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the homes

The Budde-Wreda-Dirk Residence

23 Baker

Number 23 shares the same general history as its neighbor at 21 Baker, for both its construction (1890–1891) and initial ownership by contractor Hugh Keenan. The two properties were originally on one double lot that was transferred immediately after construction was completed to Joseph Budde, the manufacturer of the celebrated Golden Gate water closet. It is not clear when Budde subsequently sold this house, but by 1906 the City Block Book indicates that Hermann Wreda owned the property.

23 Baker
Illustration by VASF member Kit Haskell

The 1910 Census lists the residents as Horatio Dirk and wife Margaret, respectively working in the dry goods and drapery industries, along with various lodgers—a pattern of multiple working class tenants that continued well into the next century.

By 1954, 23 Baker (and its then sub-divided address, 23 1/2) appear to have been jointly owned by Riley Jamieson, a maintenance janitor and Warmouth Bauer, a construction worker—the latter retained ownership until 1980, after which Lloyd Monroe took possession. The current owner acquired this staunch and handsome single-family Victorian in 1996, and soon embarked on extensive renovations.

Comparing the architectural features along the Baker Street “Keenan row,” one may notice many variations in details, while the overall consistency of the Victorian vernacular is sustained across all of these façades. Hugh never covered his own building designs with excessively ornate “gingerbread” fretwork—instead he always maintained a more restrained look with an impressive, yet dignified presence. Here, the exterior front entry portico contains a spandrel arch with a balustrade that lies below, rather than above its cornice. Pediments top the framed rectangular panels that are applied over each of the slanted bay windows on both levels. Smaller stained glass transoms containing Audubon motifs in the second-floor front bedroom echo the more elaborate combination glass and painted panes over the first-floor bay. Applied concentric circular decorations within the friezes are now attractively highlighted by the sheen of silver paint accenting the overall exterior color scheme of forest green, brown, sage, and ivory.

Renovations that were done during the 1920s included re-aligning the terrazzo stoop sideways, so as to install a garage underneath. In that same decade, interior columns were also added between the first and second parlors—where an exciting recent discovery has been a set of 9 1/2 feet high sliding pocket doors that were long hidden inside the walls. They are deemed worthy of a current restoration. Similarly, the fireplace mantels in the parlors and master bedroom were great “finds” for reconstituting the period details of the home. Hardwood floors, crown moldings, dado rails, and skirting boards throughout the house are all original; but the patterned Lincrusta that now decorates the wainscoting of the halls and parlor is a contemporary reproduction imported from England.

Several areas have been re-configured on each of the floors. A bathroom is now positioned at the end of the main hallway that would have gone straight to the kitchen at the rear. A modern kitchen facility has replaced three smaller rooms. Closets were shifted and new ones created to make room for a single, more conveniently enlarged upstairs bathroom. Skylights were added and reshaped to provide more illumination over the front and rear stairwells, and in the upper wash rooms—a key theme of improvement and revelation for the sustenance and tasteful refurbishing of this fine Victorian.

by Tamara W. Hill, with research by Bradley Wiedmaier

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

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