The Koshland House
Illustrations by Kit Haskell
This beautiful home is an excellent example of an Italianate Victorian built by The Real Estate Associates. Of the thousand or so homes that were built by this company, this is one of the two hundred or so that remain. This stately home was built in June of 1875 for Mr. Simon Koshland at a cost of $5,500 which included the side garden.
The Real Estate Associates was the energetic endeavor of Mr. William Hollis. Born of a pioneer family in Iowa in 1839, Mr. Hollis grew up beside the Mississippi. Arriving in California in 1852, he tried his luck in the gold country, then moving to San Francisco about 1860. He was a law student and Grand Scribe of the Sons of Temperance. He then drifted into real estate. Later, he lived with his wife and two children in several of the homes that his company built. He died in 1895.
In its heyday, 1874 to 1876, The Real Estate Associates employed 300 to 400 workmen at a time, paying each about $25 for a six-day, sixty-hour week. Their speed record was forty-one houses built from start to finish in five months. In one month they cut down and carted away thirty feet of serpentine rock across Market Street from the New Mint.
The Real Estate Associates tracts were all done in the style called Italianate. It’s the most classic, least flamboyant Victorian style. The bay is half an octagon and the siding plain with horizontal grooves. Quoins were typically added on the corners of the building in alternating fashion.
Mr. Simon Koshland, for whom 1848 Pine Street was built, was born in 1825 in Ichenhausen, Bavaria, Germany, and before the age of 20 he immigrated to the U.S.. He became a citizen in Philadelphia where he met and married Rosine Frauenthal.
Directories show Mr. Simon Koshland in Sacramento in 1853 as a wholesale clothing merchant working with his brothers Nathan and Max. He then seemed to have followed the trajectory of Nathan, who came to San Francisco in 1858 because it was the center for shipments to Canada. By the time Mr. Koshland bought 1 848 Pine Street, Koshland Brothers was a significant firm of commission merchants and dealers in wools, hides and furs.
This was a close-knit patriarchal family: sons went into the family business, children lived at home until they married and grandchildren came back. Simon’s habits of attention to his Temple and unostentatious charities have been emulated down the generations as the Koshlands became an extremely important San Francisco family.
It was Simon’s son Marcus who built the famous home at 3800 Washington Street which was modeled after Madame de Pompadour’s Versailles chateau, Le Petit Trianon. The home was completed in 1904 and was inaugurated with a Marie Antoinette costume ball. Simon remained at 1848 Pine Street until his death in 1896. It was only after his widow Rosine’s death about 1911 that the family sold the house. By 1908, Simon’s sons Abraham, Jesse and Joseph all lived in Boston and Marcus was the only partner left in San Francisco.
Marcus’ son Daniel was a president of Levi Straus, a co-founder of the San Francisco Foundation. The Koshland Family also donated the land at the corner of Page and Buchanan Streets for a public park.
This beautiful Italianate Victorian retains much of its original exterior appearance as it did when it was built in 1875 except for the front east side of the first story, which was bumped out to accommodate an elevator from the garage area added beneath the side garden. Quoins were added along with a balustraded balcony atop to fit in with the original design of the home. The front windows on the second story are arched whereas the first floor windows are modified arched windows, both of which are double hung. The original portico also adorns the front of this home, crowned with a second story balcony. The semi-circular marble stairs also remain at the street level, welcoming guests as they have for over 130 years.
— taken from the Victorian Alliance‘s 2006 “Grande Dame Victorians... Along the Fireline in Pacific Heights” catalog