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the homes

The Hawkins Residence

1915 Oak

This two-and-a-half floor residence is a good example of the Queen Anne Style with its triangular top, curved arched porch, spindle work over the second floor windows, and assorted decorative motifs covering the façade. Built in 1894 as a speculative residence, 1915 Oak Street is a cousin to 1979 Oak Street—both were built the same year by Philip John Haver, a contractor/builder.

1915 Oak
Illustration by VASF member Kit Haskell

While Mr. Haver was active from 1889 till the early part of the 20th century, his output of buildings is not large. He first appears in the San Francisco City Directory in 1887 and resided at 3681 24th Street by 1890. He was born in New York in 1854 of German parents and is listed as a carpenter in the 1900 United States Census. He was married with one daughter and had the flats at 3681–3683 24th Street built for himself and his family. In June of 1889 he designed and built three two-floor residences on the north side of 25th Street west of Shotwell Street (3250–3274 25th Street), and in 1891/1892 he designed and built four two-floor residences on the east side of Castro Street south of Hill Street (855–885 Castro Street). Compared to his previous buildings, these two residences on Oak Street are quite elaborate and more detailed. It is possible that he employed an architect for these two homes. In 1920 he is residing in another building he built in 1868 Page Street. He died in May of 1945.

The water records show that service to the house was turned on May 4, 1894 and in September of 1894 Mr. Haver sold the residence, which was then numbered 1907 Oak Street to Georgiana Hawkins and her family. The 1900 United States Census has the following:

Georgiana Hawkins, 40 widow, born in Louisiana

Arthur Hawkins, 24, son

Beatrice Hawkins, 22, daughter

Clarence Hawkins, 21, son

Georgia Hawkins, 20, daughter

Georgiana Hawkins is listed in the San Francisco City Directory as an adjuster at the United States Mint. After her death in the late 1920s, her children continued to live in the residence with the eldest Georgia Hawkins occupying the house until her death in 1964.

After the last of the Hawkins family had died, the residence became a rental property and was taken over by The Church of the Good Earth Commune. Founded in 1968 by ex-convict hippies, the church claimed pot as their sacrament and preached love and peace. All was not peace and love as the house became the target of many police raids, culminating one evening in January 1971 when plainclothes SFPD narcotics officers burst into 1915 Oak Street and arrested 23 people for possession of marijuana, hashish, and LSD. Women and babies were hauled out unto the street and the men were roughed up and pummeled with billy clubs. A complete history of this period is contained in the bestseller “Season of the Witch” by David Talbot, chapter 17, pages 156–168. Later, in the 1970s, the commune was infiltrated by the White Panthers.

There have been some interior changes over the years. A stairwell skylight was added on the third floor in the 1920s and the garage was added in 1930.

by Gary Goss

— taken from the Victorian Alliance’s “2014 House Tour” catalog

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