Knockout Views From A Perfect c.1940 WursterAuthor:Philip Ferrato
If Bay Area architecture fans perk up when they hear the name William Wurster, the opportunity to own a home designed by the renowned architect would set them drooling. And here to drive them mad is Wurster’s Helen B. Rich House, built for an heiress to the Wrigley fortune in 1940.
Among the finest extant examples of William W. Wurster’s discreetly luxurious pre-WWII houses, the Rich House is sited on a quiet cul-de-sac on Telegraph Hill, perched above North Beach, and possessing astonishing, unobstructed views of San Francisco Bay, framed by Wurster’s impeccably detailed, deceptively simple interiors.
Recently restored by Mid-Century experts Gabrielle and Michael Boyd of BoydDesign, the property was in excellent almost-original condition when the Boyds acquired it; they undertook only to remove some unsympathetic interior partitions and refresh what was original. Although it was originally constructed as a 2-unit building, it’s easily suited to life as a triplex. The garden level, currently used as a guest suite and office, fits seamlessly into the duplex above while retaining a measure of privacy. All four levels are joined by a grandly sweeping staircase terminating on the top floor in addition to an elevator and secondary internal staircase.
The top floor kitchen is new (created out of the original kitchen and butler’s pantry) and designed by Michael Boyd in the spirit of the original but open to the living/dining area, reflecting today’s much more casual way of entertaining.
The kitchen on the guest level is original, however, and beautifully restored.
The current owners, Gabrielle and Michael Boyd, have always identified themselves as “stewards” of modern architecture. It’s an important distinction and guiding principle of BoydDesign, their multidisciplinary design and consulting firm specializing in advising the owners of historic modernist residential properties in both restoration and careful, thoughtful renovation. Below, a glimpse of the home’s lush garden, attributed to Thomas Church, a frequent Wurster collaborator.
173 Chestnut Street, Telegraph Hill
4-bedrooms, 2-baths, 2-half baths, 2-car parking
Photo Credit: Rob J. Photography for Sotheby’s International Realty