The home at 2007 Franklin Street in San Francisco has a long history. Called Haas-Lilienthal House, it was built in 1886 and went on to hold three generations of Lilienthal and Haas family members. Today it is the city’s only intact Victorian-era home that’s open to the public for tours, and is recognized as a national treasure by the National Trust of Historic Preservation.
Designed by Peter Schmidt, Haas-Lilienthal House was built in the Queen Anne style, with open gables, a turreted corner tower complete with a “witch’s cap” and a mixture of siding and shingles. The home includes a basement ballroom, multiple bedchambers, servant’s quarters, a redwood-paneled playroom and an attic. It cost $18,500 to construct at a time when most homes cost $700 to $2,000, and managed to survive San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake.
A prolific Bay Area architect, Schmidt also designed factories, warehouses, wine depots and many, many other Victorians. His major clients included Levi Strauss and C.G. Hooker, president of the Merchant’s Exchange.
William and Bertha Hess, the first to live in Haas-Lilienthal House, were very active in the local Jewish community, and participated in many charitable and cultural activities. William was also the director of Wells Fargo and was on the board of arbitration at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce. Bertha was a member of the Council of Jewish Women and was one of the first directors of the Emanu-El Sisterhood of Personal Services.
While Haas-Lilienthal House has been open to the public for tours for decades, for four years now it’s also played the role of a haunted house every Friday and Saturday in October. Dimly lit passages and unexpected surprises await those who dare enter.
We can’t wait to see what comes next for this storied San Francisco house.