March 26, 2010

Behind The Façade (And On The Market) At 2841 Divisadero

2841 Divisadero

Hidden behind the relatively unassuming Cow Hollow façade at 2841 Divisadero lies 7,615 modern square feet over four floors including with a three-story sky lit library and gallery.

2841 Divisadero Library

Public records show the property last changed hands off the market this past October. And while a listing for 2841 Divisadero doesn't currently show up on the public facing MLS, it is on the market with McGuire and asking $8,500,000.

Bonus points to the reader that can find a good link to the listing.

UPDATE: A plugged-in tipster responds with a link to the (still not public) listing.

UPDATE: As a plugged-in reader notes, the transfer in October was due to the owner's passing at ninety with friends by his side (we should all be so lucky). And another reader provides a link to the architects' (Butler Armsden) overview of the home.

UPDATE: As promised, the website for 2814 Divisadero is now live.

∙ Listing: 2841 Divisadero (5/5.5) 7,615 sqft - $8,500,000 [] [MLS]
Butler Armsden: Architecture on Exhibit (2841 Divisadero) []

First Published: March 26, 2010 6:00 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

UPDATE: The bonus points have been awarded as a plugged-in reader responds with the (still not public) listing now linked above.

Posted by: SocketSite at March 26, 2010 12:59 PM

Affidavit of Death filed on Dec. 2, 2009. Here's the obituary (October 11, 2009).

Posted by: EBGuy at March 26, 2010 1:00 PM

Are you sure about the off-market transfer? The trust on record now seems to be the same person back to at least 1994. There is a recording in Dec 2009, but it's not a transfer of title.

Posted by: formerly%whatever at March 26, 2010 1:04 PM

The MLS # for this house is 368255. It must be public because I found it in my email "in" box.

Posted by: Bean Girl at March 26, 2010 1:10 PM

Posted by: FYI at March 26, 2010 1:10 PM

This is a tough one to call. Not really a fan of the exterior or the interior. The wall art is pretty cool but any new owner is going to nix it.

Posted by: eddy at March 26, 2010 1:28 PM

This and the Royal Towers listing are why staging is sometimes a necessity. This house is just bizarre. What's with all the parrots? It looks like it was decorated by Salvador Dali's unheralded and untalented brother-in-law. 8.5 million just seems like a price plucked from nowhere. I'd price it at about 750 per foot, so around 5.7 million - which is still a lot for Divis.

Posted by: sleepiguy at March 26, 2010 1:38 PM

The views are amazing. I think the interior would look a lot better with good interior decoration, and if you're spending $9M on that house you can presumably afford to hire someone really top notch to decorate your home.

I'm not usually a fan of wall paintings, but there's something very Magritte about those chairs...

Posted by: abc at March 26, 2010 1:42 PM

love the obituary--thanks for posting the link, EBguy.
I guess obits are more interesting when you have money? Still, I love the details such as having Lerner as a roommate in college.

Posted by: obit lover at March 26, 2010 1:46 PM

Love the books. Love the skylight. Not sure they go together very well though. Maybe there's something I am missing.

Posted by: Salarywoman at March 26, 2010 1:52 PM

I think the interior would look a lot better with good interior decoration

I think the decor is great (except for a couple chairs). It seems elegant, eclectic, clean, modern, and yet cozy.

If I hadn't just weeded my meager book collection, I'd chain myself to the library stack structure at the open house and refuse to leave.

Different strokes, I guess.

Posted by: BobN at March 26, 2010 2:18 PM

Wow - it made Socketsite! Thanks for putting it up. Long time reader, occasional poster, haven't had a listing featured on here since I began working with Neal.

The website goes up Monday (we typically put it up the day before our first Broker's Tour).

In regards to the exterior - yes, it is certainly unusual. There is a reason for it. The home was designed to literally turn its back to Divisadero Street, and this was done by incorporating an expansive art wall that spans the front of the home. Once you step inside, you see see that the rear of the house plays out like a typical front side, with enormous windows that show views of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay, the Presidio, etc. We have had Lewis Butler come through, as he designed/built the house in '92, and a window can be placed on the front exterior should the new owner want to.

Needless to say, the inside of the house is like something you have never seen. Even the most critical agents we have brought through have been impressed with it. That doesn't mean it's for everyone - obviously, it's not a traditional family house, leaving us a specific segment of the market. The person who buys it will be looking for something one of a kind, and this is it.

If any of you would like floor plans or the brochure emailed, I'd be happy to send it ( Check back on Monday for

- Sam

[Editor’s Note: Cheers. And as always, thank you for plugging in.]

Posted by: Sambo at March 26, 2010 2:30 PM

The street exterior is hateful. It is an illustration of why so many have a visceral dislike for the arrogance of modernism.

Posted by: lark at March 26, 2010 2:34 PM

"the arrogance of modernism"... wow, what a generalization! How about "the arrogance of Victorianism"? So much for celebrating diversity! This is a busy block of a busy street, and if the original owner wanted to turn the house's back to the street, you might argue that is arrogant or even hateful. But that doesn't make the entirety of a legitimate movement like modernism those things.

Posted by: Tom at March 26, 2010 3:10 PM

I think I've seen more hateful modern exteriors. I absolutely love some of it, the rest, not so much. But the parts I really didn't like were mostly about the colors and finishes. I kind of like the chairs on the wall even if I'm not sure I'd want to live with them, and I'd want to add that living room window.

Not for everyone, but I think it would work for a family fairly well actually. They don't stay little very long and having high school and college aged kids myself, I am seriously coveting the library areas.

Good luck, Sambo!

Posted by: kthnxybe at March 26, 2010 3:15 PM

Sweet pad. Glimpses of an amazing art collection. The late owner and his partner had style, it appears.

Posted by: midcentfan at March 26, 2010 6:33 PM

This is actually a "remodel" of an early 60's era Wurster, although only a small portion of an original wall remained to qualify as such. There was a serenity to street facade of the Wurster as well as in the interior courtyard, with contemporary sculpture, water and bamboo. Lots of light and varied views throughout. A special and unique home, and the "remodel" is too, although not as appealing as the original.

Posted by: archbuff at March 27, 2010 12:52 AM

No antiquarian book collector wants sunlight on his books. The architect claims this is a house for a collector of rare books, art and antiques. Even collectors who love modern architecture would want something very different.

Posted by: Conifer at March 27, 2010 2:56 AM

@conifer. I would assume that anyone who is a serious book collector would have insisted on UV protected glass.

Amazing place with eclectic collections. Some to my taste, some not. (Okay, more not.)

Amazing architectural design, but does anyone else think that at certain angles inside, it looks like a cellblock at Alcatraz?

Posted by: jlasf at March 27, 2010 9:53 AM

Pretty impressive.

Personally, I'm a fan - total diversion from anything else you will find in Pacific Heights. For being built in '92, it still looks tremendously progressive/forward thinking. I just don't think you'll see this level of architecture/design copied and reworked.

If 2342 Broadway listed for $14M went into contract, I think this has a shot at around $8M. Going to take a unique buyer, but possible.

Posted by: Agent 415 at March 27, 2010 11:55 AM

@jlasf. That was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw the pics of the library. Reminds me of a prison w/ the railings and the way the areas are stacked.

Posted by: bornnraised at March 27, 2010 12:59 PM

Remind me, why would anyone possibly want to look out on Divisadero?

Posted by: Jim at March 27, 2010 4:10 PM


yes, I wonder the same thing? and to pay $8.5 million for the privilege?

I enjoy the lovefest between the editor and broker though

Posted by: jackson at March 27, 2010 4:38 PM

I actually think it is a great house, if pricey. The point I was trying to make is that there is a very good reason for a blank street facade.

Posted by: Jim at March 27, 2010 4:46 PM


what do u think is so great about the house?

Posted by: jackson at March 27, 2010 4:47 PM

Is there a reason for the "ç" in facade in the title that I'm missing?

Posted by: eddy at March 27, 2010 4:50 PM

@eddy: no, I would say probably not

Posted by: sfgirl at March 27, 2010 5:06 PM

- spatial quality and flow
- recognition of client's patterns of living
- quality of light
- understanding of site and orientation toward desired views and away from undesirable views
- quality of detailing

This is what architecture is about. It is not about surfaces, moldings, fixtures or decorative embellishments. (that is what decoration is about).

To Eddy, façade was properly spelled façade not facade, in traditional usage, although facade became popular when English language typewriters did not have a ç key. Computers do.

Posted by: Jim at March 27, 2010 5:08 PM


interesting. you sound like an architect, however, oftentimes, the quality of the architecture adds nothing to the intrinsic value of a property.

in other words, the architecture here creates really no value because the location is unattractive.

furthermore, the quality of architecture you describe here can easily be replicated, but it would add value if it were replicated in a better location versus Divisadero at a steep incline.

$8.5 million can buy much better in San Francisco's 94115 and 94118 zips

Posted by: jackson at March 27, 2010 5:23 PM


Your posts are... bizarre. You seem confused - the property doesn't look out to Divis. That's sort of the whole point, and has been discussed a lot in this thread. Secondly, no - this architecture cannot easily be replicated. Like it or dislike it, it is one of a kind.

Posted by: Agent415 at March 27, 2010 6:14 PM


Given the difficulties and hazards in building in San Francisco, I'd argue that it's a challenge to replicate any building, let alone this one.

Posted by: Other Lurker at March 27, 2010 7:16 PM

@Jim, Thanks for the çlarrification.

@Jackson, are you also @John?

Posted by: eddy at March 27, 2010 7:57 PM

got it. what you are saying is that I am confused because I disagree with whoever you are that the property is way overpriced which is contrary to your pocketbook. Watch, in the fullness of time, the market will tell you the same thing.

btw, the property does overlook Divisadero which is why its address is 2841 Divisadero...Divisadero has a lot of traffic and for that main reason, it is not an attractive location on a comparative basis.

btw, I am quite familiar w/building in San would not be complicated to replicate this property's architecture.

Posted by: jackson at March 27, 2010 9:26 PM

Jackson - relax, dude. The property is built to overlook the West, not the East (Divisadero). So odd that you're still arguing this, lol.

Posted by: Agent415 at March 27, 2010 10:47 PM

If I'm not mistaken the skylight is tilted toward the northern side of the house. Direct sunlight would never hit the books.

Posted by: BobN at March 28, 2010 1:08 AM

This is clearly a special house. Obviously not for everyone, though special San Francisco. I think some relatively minor changes could transform this very interesting space into something spectacular. To the seller: take your time. To the buyer: hire the right designer, don't scrimp and enjoy a one-of-a-kind treasure.

Posted by: Joshua at March 28, 2010 4:05 PM

UPDATE: As promised, the website for 2814 Divisadero is now live.

Posted by: SocketSite at March 29, 2010 8:38 AM

I would live here, just a couple things i would change. The entry since its a wheel chair ramp and blow out the front for a window!

Posted by: SoshEstate at March 29, 2010 4:18 PM

Having been in the house many times, I wish there were before and after photos prior to the staging for the public to see. What's left is a portion of the important contemporary artwork, some of the family portraits, very few pieces of the antique furniture, and mirrors-- unfortunately some has been re-arranged or re-hung throughout-- as well as the piano, and books, all of which will go to family after the sale.

The value of the contents far exceeded the value of the house itself: museum quality American and European antique furniture, Oriental carpets, priceless Continental and Oriental decorations and objets d'art, silver displayed (and in the vault), and of course the vintage wine! Most was dispersed to family, a small fraction going to auction or chairity.

Vestiges of a bygone era that fit very nicely and comfortably in a very modern setting! To me, the place now seems a bit contrived and cheapened by the staging, but perhaps better than if it had been left bare.

Posted by: Old Guard at March 30, 2010 2:14 AM

sold $7,581,250

[Editor's Note: As reported, closed escrow today, and don't forget those invitations to the housewarming. Cheers.]

Posted by: Conifer at July 12, 2010 2:25 PM

Those odd closing prices always indicate that there was some serious negotiating leading to a "let's split the difference" discussion. -11% from asking and under $1000/psf for a pretty prime location and prime views. Divis is less ideal, but it's a pretty good sale. The seller here had less emotion to the final sale price so this is a pretty good market comp for a good quality view property in D7. Doesn't bode well for either fillmore house featured here recently, or the other one not featured here.

[Editor's Note: Now Playing At The On Fillmore: Big Views And The Blues, This Ought To Be Interesting On An Apples-To-Apples Basis, and 2846 Fillmore.]

Posted by: eddy at July 12, 2010 2:40 PM

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