Get to Know: The Painted Ladies

"The Painted Ladies" are arguably one of San Francisco's most photographed attractions. You may also recognize these iconic houses from a few of their hundreds of on-screen appearances in film and television. But how much do you really know about the most famous homes in the city? Check out some of the best tid-bits we gathered from!

  • The Painted Ladies were constructed between 1892 and 1896, meaning they survived the 1906 earthquake
  • They are just seven of an estimated 48,000 Victorian and Edwardian style homes built in San Francisco between 1849 and 1915
  • The row of homes is also known as “Postcard Row” or the “Six Sisters”
  • The developer who built the houses, Matthew Kavanaugh, lived in the the last house of the row (722 Steiner): 4,600 square feet,  4 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, + a garden au pair apartment.
  • In 1896, Kavanaugh built the three matching houses beside his, which sold for $8,000 apiece.
  • In 2014, his house sold for $3.1 million, which was $900,000 below its original asking price.
  • “The Painted Ladies’ iconic hues are a relic of the colorist movement of the ’60s. During WWII, houses were painted gray with cheap war paint until local artist Butch Kardum started a movement by painting his Victorian home in vivid greens and blues, which led neighbors to doing the same. By the ’70s, houses across San Francisco were showing off beautiful colors again.
  • The red-doored home that was shown in the opening credits of Full House was actually located at 1709 Broderick Street.
  • Novelist Alice Walker (The Color Purple) once lived in one of the Painted Ladies, and later tried selling the house to Actor Michael Shannon in 1995 for just $600,000
  • While Michael Shannon did, until recently, own the largest of the houses on the row, he claims he wishes he’d taken it, because five years later it sold for $1.2 million
  • At one point, the Painted Ladies were nearly demolished due to plans to put up a freeway circling the city.

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