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the homes

1976 California

Henry W. Hyman House

1976 California
Illustrations by Kit Haskell

This home, originally numbered 1946 California Street, was built in 1883 by architect Peter Schmidt of Schmidt & Havens for Mr. Henry W. Hyman, owner of Hyman Brothers. The cost of building this home was $19,000, five hundred dollars more than the house this same firm designed three years later for the Haas-Lilienthals at 2007 Franklin. The land (a then common but now unusually large lot of 35' x 137') cost $7,500. J. Furness was the contractor for the project.

Mr. Hyman was a successful merchant. He was the head of Hyman Brothers, a mercantile firm that shipped and sold products from Hawaii such as sugar, rice and coffee. His younger brothers were also a part of the firm. The firm was very successful and afforded his brother Joseph a home nearby at 1916 California Street. His brother Morris lived at the corner of Sacramento and Buchanan.

Mr. Henry W. Hyman was born in Prussia in 1842. He married Julia Stodole in 1867 and they had seven children. There were three live-in servants (one from Ireland, one from Norway and the other from Japan) according to the 1890 census.

Mr. Hyman retired in 1901 and died in 1905. His wife Julia died in 1915.

The Hyman House is a transitional Italianate/Eastlake comprised of approximately 8,000 square feet and was originally decorated in the high aesthetic movement style. It is remarkably well preserved, still possessing original painted ceilings in the second parlor, foyer and upstairs hall; original woodwork throughout in addition to its original and highly decorative lincrusta (in a striking Asian design) in the foyer and upstairs hall; built-in sideboard with a carved female bust; 14 foot tall pier mirror in the hall; original light fixtures; banisters and newel posts; faux walnut graining on most moldings (made of redwood) and faux marble mantel. The exterior is intact except for the mansard and turreted roof which were most likely removed when the home was remodeled in 1895. The extensively ornate facade contains a beautiful column-supported pedimented portico. The bay windows are adorned with three-quarter height colonnettes as well as substantial and decorated window hoods and framing. The cornice of the home is lined with dentils, brackets and other decorative wooden elements. The garage was added around the 1920s. The current owners are currently in the process of restoring the home.

— taken from the Victorian Alliance‘s 2006 “Grande Dame Victorians... Along the Fireline in Pacific Heights” catalog

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