Real Estate Report: Vintage Marina Mansion Looks to the Past $6.9M


Where: 3560 Baker Street, Marina District
Asking: $6.9M
What: Built in 1929 across from the Palace of Fine Arts, this grand Spanish/Mediterranean Style house was designed by architect Sidney A.Colton– and according to a 1976 landmarks survey, was once a “badly remodeled Pueblo Revival.” Pueblo or not, it looks great today. Inside and out, the meticulous renovation created a great place to live while preserving prime architectural details from California’s early 20th Century terra cotta and tile industries– which began in the Central Valley near Fresno to manufacture sewer and water pipes and evolved into a decorative arts powerhouse in the 1870s.

The development of hollow terra cotta blocks revolutionized building in California at the turn of the 20th Century. Easily ordered from catalogues, lightweight and fireproof, they allowed architects to create multistory structures with thick, dimensional walls and deep recesses which mimicked adobe, or the stuccoed structures they and their clients had seen in Spain and Italy. Easily cut and trimmed, the blocks permitted builders to run electrical, gas and plumbing lines concealed in the walls, which would later be stuccoed or plastered. Despite its utilitarian beginnings, the terra cotta industry responded to the period’s demand for historical details, producing trim like this house’s barleytwist columns (above) and the grand living room fireplace, all created to look like artisan-carved stone.

A Life Well-Lived: the property has one of the few kitchens we’ve seen with a beamed ceiling– probably a grand dining room in a former life:

Details: Below, a Mayan Batchelder fireplace in the media/family room; great forged ironwork details in the lighting fixtures and stair rail; glazed tiles on the front steps; the wet bar tucked under the stairs.

More: Visit the agent’s dedicated site for the property for floor plans and dozens of additional images. For a look back at how the terra cotta industry evolved from manufacturing sewer and water pipes in the 1870s to decorative art in the 1920s, visit Gladding McBean, plusif you really can’t get enough Arts & Crafts tile, we recommend a look at Ernest Batchelder’s masterwork in Los Angeles. Last but not least, there’s the laundry room: