Weekly Top Ten Real Estate Hot List Tue: 1-2-2013
We only have to look at a grand old home to spur our imaginations and wonder what history it hides behind its elegant exterior. This Italian Renaissance manse in San Francisco’s prestigious Pacific Heights neighborhood is one such home. From its hilltop perch, the four-story grand mansion overlooks panoramic views of the Golden Gate, Alcatraz, Angel Island and the Marin Headlands from almost every room. It is one of San Francisco’s most historic and beautiful homes.
What is not generally known is that President Herbert Hoover’s wife, Lou, initially purchased the land under this house in 1921 before her husband became president. By 1921, Hoover had already amassed his fortune as a mining engineer and was seeking investments. As there was a canyon between two compressed shale rock outcroppings where the tennis court is now located, Hoover understood how difficult it would be to build on the land, so in 1925 he sold the lot to Ornithologist (he studied birds)Milton S. Ray.
Ray, along with three structural engineers, devised a cantilevered design for spanning the canyon to build the existing house and tennis court. Ray then commissioned architect Henry Clay Smith to design the house within the cantilevered plan. This achievement propelled Smith into fame as the “hilltop architect.” It is noted that the original plans have stayed in the possession of the current owner, including the original permit application.
Years later, the home was purchased for $93,000 by real estate developer, Mitchel L. Mitchell from his friend, Milton Ray, shortly before Ray’s death. Mitchell’s lack of flamboyance and quiet demeanor gained him the reputation in San Francisco as the “Shyest Millionaire.” His youngest daughter, Gladyne Mitchell, has continued to own the property until the mansion’s recent sale.
As further proof of the U.S. housing market upswing, this grand mansion sold in early December. Consisting of 10,000 square feet it has 8 bedrooms, 8 baths, elevator, 4-car garage, floor-to-ceiling windows, hardwood floors and detailed architectural elements.
Originally listed in 2006 for $55 million, the property has undergone several price cuts and was most recently listed at $34 million. It closed on December 11th for a reported $28,250,000, making it the third most expensive private home sale in San Francisco history.