2080 Washington Street Between Gough and Octavia
This French Baroque chateau was designed for Adolph and Alma de Bretteville Spreckels by George A. Applegarth, graduate of the
École des Beaux Arts in Paris. (Applegarth reputedly hung out with Jack London, and the pair would bicycle
from the Bay Area to Yosemite where they climbed Half Dome.)
To accommodate his grand chateau, Spreckels bought and combined several prime lots with views of the San Francisco Bay
and the Golden Gate. Mrs. Spreckels insisted on saving the existing Victorian houses. Six house on Jackson Street and two on
Washington Street were moved.
Adolph Spreckels was the son of sugar tycoon Claus Spreckels. He inherited and expanded his father's empire, to include sugar cane
in Hawaii and sugar beets in the Salinas Valley along with the necessary refineries.
Alma le Normand de Bretteville, the daughter of poor Danish immigrants, was born in the Sunset District. Her beauty and taste for
fine art led her to model for local artists most notably for sculptor Robert Aitken who placed her likeness atop the Dewey Monument
in Union Square. At about this time, Alma was introduced to Adolph who courted her for five years
before marrying her in 1908 when her was fifty and she was twenty-four.
Alma continued her interest in the fine arts. She purchased a number of major works by Auguste Rodin and commissioned Applegarth
to design the California Palace of the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park to house them. This building, a copy of the Palais de la Légion
díHonneur in Paris, is now part of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. It houses Alma's Rodin collection and is by far the loveliest
and best sited of San Francisco's museums.
Adolph Spreckels died in 1924. Alma de Bretteville Spreckels died in 1968.
See the Encyclopedia of San Francisco for
the complete story of Alma and Adolph.