Tuesday, July 30, 2013

San Francisco's Painted Ladies

Colorful.  Feminine.  Frou-frou.  Photogenic. Historic.  And high maintenance!  These dames are very high maintenance.  Buying one of these old Victorian homes in San Francisco is a huge commitment.  Forget about travel or buying designer clothes if you own one of these ladies.  Your income will be spent on paint!  And endless home repair.  But, oh my, how wonderful!  If I didn't have such a bad case of Wanderlust, I would still be living in San Francisco right now, and I would have traded my apartment overlooking the Bay Bridge for a bright blue and yellow home further out in the avenues.

Actually, I remember when Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen's book entitled "Painted Ladies--San Francisco's Resplendent Victorians" came out.  It was 1978 and I had been living in the city for a year.  How I coveted these Victorians with their narrow steep stairs and alley-like interiors.  Huge windows overlooked tiny gardens in the back.  There were hardwood floors, high ceilings and architectural details that never stopped.  They were beautiful and stylish as all get out!

About 40,000 of these houses were built in San Francisco between 1949 and 1915.  Most of them were painted a very blah gray until the 1960's when Butch Kardum painted his home bright blue and green.  Some people were horrified, but Victorian owners were intrigued.  This guy was on to something.  One by one, neighbors combined their own favorite combinations and a garden of colorful homes popped up all over the city.

I spent a wonderful morning (in the fog) a couple of weeks ago walking around the Haight-Ashbury district, taking pictures, enjoying and coveting the Painted Ladies of San Francisco yet once again.

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