SF Victoriana v.2

Local friends and family know I like taking cross-town walks, so a planned lunch downtown was another excuse to make a quick 5 mile, zero-carbon footprint (except on my soles) hoof from home to table. My usual 100-minute exercise was interrupted by several scenes along the way, extending the time another 30 minutes!

My first distraction was a tiny, delicious little custom sewing shop. Laden with love and care, this local shop presented itself with a cute storefront and encourages you to peek inside. The treasure trove of lovely ingredients sparks the imagination and reminds you to think about art and what you wear.

Further along McAllister Street, between Masonic Avenue and the Civic Center, are a potpourri of beautiful Victorian homes. These are well known in San Francisco as “Painted Ladies”. They continue to mature into beautiful streetscapes that can only be fully appreciated by foot.

The heavy timber buildings were built at the turn of the century, when San Francisco was flush with wealth from the “Rush” of the Gold Rush. Local craftsmen, who must have been trained as carpenters in Europe, and artisans detailed and built custom one-of a kind residences for the nouveau riche. The gentle weather in the Bay Area allows these incredible structures to survive beyond a natural lifespan, along with the healthy, inherently bug-resistent redwood bones.

The beautiful entryways, frontages and detailing are definitely “look at me” attractions. I have driven along this route many times, but have only just come to notice and appreciate these buildings recently by walking through the neighborhood.

If you remember from last month’s February posting, I showed pictures of a house with a giant Valentine dangling outside (shown to the left below). Intrigued with the artwork at the time, I didn’t make a mental note of where it was. This time, as I walked on the same street and the block before the house, I wondered where the Valentine house had been located. No sooner had I pondered this question, when it appeared!  A new outdoor greeting for Easter was proudly displayed.

The re-discovery of the hanging artwork brought a sheer feeling of glee to me. In addition, a tiny toy mailbox was perched on the garden wall just outside the house. There were colorful sheaves of paper hanging next to it, with a dog-chewed pencil attached. A sign invited comments to the artwork! I was so inspired and delighted by this opportunity. I showered the artist with kudos for caring and sharing and stuffed my note into the pumpkin-colored mailbox.

I was late to lunch, but  glowed all day.

PS. Plans for this summer’s travels are being finalized, so stay tuned!