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On the Market: The Historic Filbert Cottages in San Francisco’s Russian Hill


On the Market: The Historic Filbert Cottages in San Francisco’s Russian Hill

July 22, 2017

San Francisco’s Filbert Cottages were built in 1907 by William Bush to house survivors of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake; over the years, the four modest structures—at 1338 Filbert St. in the city’s Russian Hill—have served as apartment housing and even a design school, but by 2000 they had fallen into complete disrepair. A controversial development proposal around that time prompted the city to designate the property landmark status in 2003. Four years later, a San Francisco family bought the property with the intention of making only modest improvements—but soon realized the landmark status would demand a far more rigorous approach.

They engaged Oakland architect Jerome Buttrick of Buttrick Projects A+D—a member of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory—to head the rehabilitation, and the architect walked a long and winding design and approval path with the owners. “We had innumerable roadblocks thrown at us regarding approvals and technical construction matters,” Buttrick says. “But restoring a decaying, historic part of the city with a garden visible from the street gives the project a purpose greater than itself.”

Ten years later, the Filbert Cottages are now for sale as four condominiums with a shared garden and underground parking, three bedrooms each and 12,000 square feet in all. Let’s take a closer look.

(View the listings at Realtor for more.)

Photography by Andres Gonzalez, courtesy of Buttrick Projects A+D.

filbert cottages kitchen modern rehab san francisco unit a
Above: Buttrick added cathedral ceilings with shiplap paneling in each space.

“The tenacity of the owners in seeing this through cannot be overstated,” said Buttrick. “They had no idea when they started, but they stuck with it all the way.”

living room filbert cottages san francisco unit a black fireplace 1
Above: The living room of the streetside cottage has black accents in the fireplace surround, chandelier, and structural I-beam overhead. The light fixture is Gear Suspension from McEwen Studios in Berkeley, and the fireplace surround is a Buttrick design of steel with patina and wax, fabricated by Irongrain in Oakland.
living room stair filbert cottages san francisco modern chandelier
Above: In the living room of the same cottage: a gray Venetian plaster detail wall by Level 5 Design in Berkeley.
kitchen modern rehab filbert cottages san francisco unit d
Above: The kitchens are by Bulthaup, with Miele appliances and quartzite countertops.

Natural light enters the kitchen via a split skylight that feeds light to both the kitchen and the master bedroom immediately above it. The compact cottage design allowed for only one window in each kitchen, so Buttrick augmented it with the bi-level skylight. “You want to fight for more, better daylighting, always,” he said.

filbert cottages san francisco cathedral ceilings oak wood floors unit b
Above: The windows and doors in the main areas are single glazed, reused from the original cottages. The interior walls are painted in Benjamin Moore’s China White, with ceilings in White Heron. The floors are wide plank French white oak from First, Last & Always.
filbert cottages san francisco oak closet powder room
Above: Each cottage has a powder room made of the same French oak. For the design, Buttrick was inspired by a project he visited in southern France (see Travels with an Architect: A Restored Chateau in France, Farm Included). “Always look to the South of France for inspiration,” he said, “especially if your client is French.” (His is.)
oak stairway san francisco filbert cottages rehab
Above: A steel and oak stairway connects the three floors in each unit.
master bedroom filbert cottages san francisco built in closets
Above: Each master bedroom has built-in cabinetry designed by Buttrick and fabricated by Brian Eby.
On the Market The Historic Filbert Cottages in San Franciscos Russian Hill portrait 10
Above: Each master bath has radiant underfloor heating with white ceramic tile from Ann Sacks.
marble bath inside shower rehab cottage ground floor
Above: A ground-floor bathroom has a Calacatta d’Oro marble bathtub installed in a walk-through shower. The white glass tile is from Ann Sacks and the floor tile is white thassos marble.
filbert cottages san francisco gray exterior green roof
Above: Immediately in front of the first cottage is a car lift linking the street to an eight-car garage beneath the cottages. The lift rises to street level to receive (or deliver) a car through the fence gate, at right. The lift is camouflaged with a green roof of succulents.
exterior garden filbert cottages san francisco brick path landscape
Above: The exterior siding is reclaimed redwood shiplap from the original cottages, paired with new cedar siding cut to match and painted in Benjamin Moore’s Floral White.
exterior filbert cottages san francisco rehab nighttime
Above: Though not visible here, parts of the exterior have zinc rainscreen siding—which creates an air gap between the screen and the building to allow for drainage and evaporation of moisture—as well as zinc downspouts running the height of each cottage.

The landscaping by Marta Fry Landscape Associates features boxwood hedges and plum trees and is visible from the street. Around 70 percent of the brick pavers were reused from the original cottages.


before photo san francisco filbert cottages 3
Above: Housing as many as 10 apartments at one time, the Filbert Cottages had fallen into a state of disrepair by 2000. Photograph by Frank Deras.
before photo san francisco filbert cottages 1
Above: During the 1940s, designer and artist Marian Hartwell lived in one of the cottages, where she headquartered the School of Basic Design & Color. Photograph by Frank Deras.

For more historic rehabs, see:

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Frequently asked questions

What are the Historic Filbert Cottages?

The Historic Filbert Cottages are a collection of five charming cottages located in San Francisco's Russian Hill neighborhood. They were built in the 1850s and are some of the oldest surviving residential buildings in the city.

How many cottages are there?

There are five cottages in total, each with its own unique layout and character.

Are the cottages for sale?

Yes, the cottages are currently on the market and available for purchase. The entire property is being sold as a package.

What is the asking price?

The asking price is currently $6.2 million for the entire property.

What kind of renovations have been done?

The cottages have been carefully restored to preserve their historic character, but also updated with modern amenities such as new kitchens and bathrooms.

What is the location like?

The cottages are located in San Francisco's Russian Hill neighborhood, which is known for its charming streets, great restaurants, and stunning views of the city and bay.

Is there outdoor space?

Yes, each cottage has its own outdoor space, including a shared garden patio and individual balconies or decks with views of the city or bay.

Are the cottages move-in ready?

Yes, the cottages are fully renovated and move-in ready. You could also choose to rent out one or more of the cottages for additional income.

Is there parking available?

Unfortunately, there is no parking available on the property. However, there are public parking garages nearby and street parking is available with a permit.

What is the square footage of the property?

The overall square footage of the property is not listed, but each individual cottage ranges from approximately 600 to 1,300 square feet.

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