San Francisco Landmarks
The following is excerpted from the San Francisco Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board Final Case Report dated 16 March 1977:
On the northwest corner of Scott and Pine Streets stands a stately Italianate residence constructed in 1870, continuously occupied by the same family for the last 107 years. The Ortman-Shumate residence is of further interest because of its extensive gardens in a city that has few private gardens of any size. [Webmaster note: This seems inaccurate to me. Every residence on my block has a small private garden, and for most San Francisco residential neighborhoods outside the commercial core, rear yards are typical.]
On February 25, 1870, John Frederic Ortman purchased this large lot. According to members of the family, the Ortmans, then living at the northeast corner of Washington and Mason Streets, often drove to this area, the site of their future home, for picnics, and fell in love with the location.
Ortman, who was born in Germany in 1829, came to California in 1851. He apparently did not proceed to the gold fields, but instead obtained a position as a grocery store clerk and later owned his own grocery business. In the 1860's or thereabouts, he married Jane Merchant, a young Irish lady. A few years after moving to Scott Street in 1870, he retired from the retail business, the Directory of 1876 listing him as a "Capitalist".
In the disaster of 1906, Ortman suffered severe losses, all of his property having been insured by German insurance companies which, in contrast to the English companies, refused to pay calling the Earthquake an act of God; nevertheless, he rebuilt and at his death in 1912, his estate was valued at $600,000, mostly in real estate. One of his daughters and her husband, Dr. Thomas E. Shumate, moved into the house.
Prior to 1890, Ortman owned the entire block frontage from California to Pine, and he built residences for his two daughters when they married in the 1890's. He further enlarged his holdings some time between 1894 and 1906 by acquiring an adjoining lot to the west on California Street. This lot was taken by Emerson School when they demolished the wooden school on Pine Street and built the present concrete building in the 1920's.
The loss of this lot resulted in the loss of the Shumate cow, one of the last, if not the very last, cows owned by a private family in the Western Addition.
In 1959, a further expansion of the Emerson School resulted in the demolition of two houses leaving only the original house on the original lot.
Dr. Albert Shumate, one of the Shumates three children, resided here in 1977 when the property became a San Francisco landmark. Dr. Shumate served as President of the California Historical Society and as the first President of the San Francisco Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board.