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Liberty-Hill Historic District in San Francisco
4 February 2004
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Liberty-Hill Historic District
Bounded by 20th, Mission, Dolores, and 22nd Streets
The following description of the Alamo Square Historic District is excerpted from the San Francisco Planning Code: Article 10, Appendix F.

The Liberty-Hill Historic District is an intact representation of nineteenth century middle class housing and developmental practices. It is one of the earliest residential "suburbs" to be developed in San Francisco, with major development starting in the 1860s and continuing until the turn of the century. Because the fire following the 1906 earthquake was stopped at the Twentieth Street boundary of the district, it contains examples of all architectural styles prevalent during the developmental period.

The houses range in size from the small workingman's cottages on Lexington and San Carlos Streets, with their uniform facades and setbacks, to the individually built houses found on Liberty and Fair Oaks Streets, with varying architectural facades and setbacks. While there are only a few grand houses in the district, a number were designed by architects well known in the Bay Area, including Albert Pissis, the Newsom brothers, Charles Shaner, William H. Toepke, Charles Havens, and Charles J. Rousseau.

The suburban quality of the Liberty-Hill area is retained to this day. It is enhanced by extensive street tree plantings and the very low incidence of commercial establishments in the residential areas. The great majority of district businesses are on Valencia Street, an historic and unifying commercial corridor, as compared to the typical San Francisco pattern of a grocery store or saloon on nearly every corner.

The district is significant in its representation of San Francisco development modes of the period. The San Francisco Homestead Union, the earliest such organization in the City, owned and subdivided one block in the District in the 1860s. The Real Estate Associates (TREA), the largest builder of speculative housing in San Francisco in the 1870's, developed Lexington and San Carlos Streets as well as a number of other sites in the District. Other blocks were purchased by real estate developers and sold lot by lot.

The initial residents in the Liberty-Hill Historic District comprised a mix of professionals, laborers and small scale entrepreneurs. There have been a number of famous residents and visitors to the District, including James Rolph, Jr., John Daly, Susan B. Anthony and Lotta Crabtree. In addition, the district is associated with both the last alcalde of San Francisco under Spanish sovereignty, Jose de Jesus Noe, and the first mayor under American rule, Washington Bartlett.

Seventy percent of the buildings in the District are Victorian, with forty-two percent being Italianate, twenty percent Stick and eight percent Queen Anne. Approximately one third are architect designed. 163, or over half of all buildings, are classified as contributing to the Victorian character of the District, while 74 are potentially contributing in that reversal of inappropriate alterations could restore the original character of the buildings.

Map courtesy of San Francisco Planning Department
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