The Aigeltinger House
Illustrations by Kit Haskell
When the widowed Caroline F. Aigeltinger of 890 Grove Street commissioned contractor Hugh Keenan in 1893 to construct the Queen Anne tower house in her side garden, she was tapping one of the few economic resources available in the nineteenth century for those who were in strained circumstances. Real estate was for her a vital safety net.
Mrs. Aigeltinger and her husband Leopold, migrants from Württemberg, Germany, arrived on Grove Street in 1882. They and Henry Froomberg, Leopold’s partner in the furrier business, purchased from John D. Collins a 50 vara lot (137.5' x 137.5') for $11,000 at the 800 block’s west end. They subdivided the property between themselves, each receiving equal frontage on Grove.The Aigeltingers settled into the Collins’ former two story gabled dwelling (erected in 1865), while Henry Froomberg constructed two sets of rental flats on his half of the property.
Caroline was widowed four years later and sometime after building 882 she sold her property to James West, a prominent grocer.
A socially well-connected family, headed by Henri Pierre Tricou rented 882 Grove in 1905. Henri, who arrived here from Louisiana in the early 1850s, worked most of his life as a notary public. His wife Mary and their four sons, Harry, Eugene, Lucien and Frank De Bayou, resided at the Aigeltinger House until the early 1920s. The James West family retained possession of 882 Grove into the 1940s when it was purchased by the extended Stenberg family, who had resided there as renters since the early 1930s.
At one time the house hosted seven members of the three generation Stenberg clan plus four boarders. The parlors were partitioned to serve as bedrooms and the two children, Bill and Jayne, slept in the attic. The senior Stenbergs, Olie and Minnie, were from Norway and Minnesota, respectively.
Jayne (1923–2011), along with her brother Bill and other family members, revisited 882 Grove in 2005. Reminiscing about life in the house, Jayne recalled that when very young, she had tumbled over the attic level banister on the third floor and plunged toward the hallway floor on the first. Fortuitously, one of her aunts was walking the hall corridor at that very moment, heard a noise, looked up and caught Jayne in her arms.
In the late 1970s, a band of saffron-robed Caucasian Buddhists from Texas, incorporated as the Chakpoori Ling Association, purchased the property for $40,000 and taught and practiced acupuncture in the house’s dining room. The present owner, Joseph B. Pecora, a native of Los Angeles, purchased the Aigeltinger residence in 1979.
A restrained example of a Queen Anne townhouse, 882 Grove has two stories, a basement, and attic. Among the design elements characteristic of its style are a corner tower, stained glass window panels, front gabled roofline, dentil trim and simple door and window treatments.
A small art glass panel in a side window, the only one of four to escape a theft sometime in the early 1970s, served as a model to replicate those of the front parlor. The third floor’s main bath features its original oak-trimmed, claw-foot tub.There are four bedrooms on this level and a fifth in the attic.
The contractor, Hugh Cornelius Keenan, 882’s Irish-born contractor, resided in the Western Addition and often practiced with Robert Cranston, one of the City’s most prominent early builders.
Adapted from “The Storied Houses of Alamo Square” by Joseph B. Pecora
— taken from the Victorian Alliance‘s “The Storied Houses of Alamo Square 2015 House Tour” catalog