Today Chris & I set off for Lafayette park in Pacific Heights! The walk ended up being way more about a historic mansion than the park though.
After hiking up several hills (it’s not called Pacific Heights for nothing) Chris & I ended up in the middle of a lovely park! Not only did it have several picnic tables and a dog park, but it also boasted sights of the Bay and Alcatraz.
The most fascinating thing to us though was a massive mansion that we could see peaking over the park. Looking up in San Francisco can be hard because there’s normally poop all over the sidewalk and you don’t want to step in it. There’s also always the question of if it is human or dog poop. Majority times it’s human.
Anyways, I’m glad we looked up today because without it we wouldn’t have seen the crest of what we now know is Spreckels Mansion!
Completely covered by massive privacy hedges, it was hard to figure out what the mansion was. I tried looking on Google Maps but it was unlisted, and there was no grand entrance. This led to Chris & I Googling on the sidewalk, some might say a very SF thing to do. I don’t know what people did before Google! I could not continue my walk without figuring out what that house was! We even turned around and walked back up a massive hill to get a better look at it. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is. It was more than worth it though.
Spreckels Mansion, a French Baroque chateau with 27 rooms, was designed by Aldolph Spreckels for his wife Alma in 1912. It is Alma Spreckels who truly has the fascinating rags to riches history though. Born in 1881 in the Sunset to a poor family, Alma would become to be known as the “Great-Grandmother of San Francisco.”
At the height of 6ft, Alma was a sought after model for sculptors and artists alike. Today she can still be seen on the monument that stands in Union Square. After a courtship of five years, Alma (24) married her sugar daddy Adolph (50). Legend says that Adolph saw the completed statue of Alma in Union Square and demanded to meet the woman behind it.
Speckles mansion is owned today by none other than the famous novelist, Danielle Steele. Her residency there has caused many complaints because of the obnoxious privacy hedges, (Chris & I walked the entire grounds and couldn’t see in one bit) and reportedly she bought 25 public parking spots for her guests at parties. It was wonderful stumbling upon that history, but it is a shame that so much money and time has been spent keeping it hidden. Steele makes it very obvious that she wants to keep the poor people out.
I loved walking around Pacific Heights! It’s a gorgeous part of the city filled with amazing houses and soaring views. In this city you never know when you’re going to go on a walk and end up on a Victorian house hunt!
I could spot Alcatraz through the trees.
Spreckels Mansion before the hedge takeover.
Spreckels Mansion today.