Open House Obsession: Grand Pacific Heights Mansion Reinvents Itself, Somehow Fails to Sell for $12M

Where: 2800 Pacific Avenue, Pacific Heights
When: Sunday, July 14 from 2:00PM to 4:00PM
What: One of Pacific Height's grandest mansions, designed by Beaux-Arts architect Ernest Coxhead and built in 1899, this 6-bed, 5-bath mansion served as San Francisco's party central in the '70s when it was owned by a very merry widow, the late Lee Herbst Gruhn. It first came on the market in late 2011 for $12.5M, reduced as far as $9.75M and delisted a few times until reappearing, like a vision, completely overhauled as a fundraising show house and listed for $11.995M. Like any house with spaces assigned to ambitious decorators, this one has its moments. The living room (top and below) plus the entry hall, and dining room:

In addition to a second level of luxe bedrooms and baths, there's a midcentury, glass-walled penthouse with views– currently done up as a spa:

Set back on its lot on it's own little hill, Coxhead's exuberant neo-Georgian design was once more subtle and sober– the window frames were black and the original dark red sandstone trim has been painted a bright white:

As per the listing agent, he roof of the garage is "ideal space for tented outdoor events" just in case the rest of the house isn't big enough. Below, the Versailles Room:

The kitchen is huge, with an open southern exposure and butler's pantry– both adjacent to that tent-ready garage roof. Mrs. Gruhn know what she was doing.

Downside: In the past two months in San Francisco, four houses on this scale and in the $8M-$13M price range have come on the market and quickly closed escrow. Diagonally across the street, a Tudor Style mansion designed by architect Angus McSweeney and in perfect condition is on the market for $10M. Here, the fatal combination of an ambitious asking price, too much work to be done and poor design choices– some dating back to dear Mrs. Gruhn– are conspiring to keep the house unsold.
More: Despite being called "Herbst Manor" by the realtor, 2800 Pacific Avenue has nothing to do with the Herbst family but somehow "Gruhn Manor" doesn't have the same ring. Here's a look at a previous incarnation from 2011, but be sure to check out the current agent's dedicated site, with extensive photography, floor plans, and florid brokerbabble. The bathrooms alone are worth a visit. Below, the perfect guest room:

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