William Westerfield House

This gorgeous specimen in San Francisco was built for German-born confectioner William Westerfield in 1889.

After arriving to San Francisco in 1870, Westerfield had a chain of bakeries by the 1880s. This 28-room mansion, plus a carriage house and rose garden, was designed for his family of six. When Westerfield died in 1895, the house was sold to John Mahoney, who is known for the St. Francis Hotel and Palace Hotel after the 1906 earthquake.

By 1928, the home was known as the “Russian Embassy,” after being sold to Czarist Russians, who turned the ground-floor ballroom into a nightclub called Dark Eyes and used the upper floors for meeting rooms.

Twenty years later, it would be converted to a 14-unit apartment building. Spaces were rented to African American musicians who played in the neighborhood jazz clubs for the next 20 years.

The home also belonged a cast of interesting people including The Calliope Company (a 50-person commune mentioned in The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test) and the Family Dog (famed music promoter Chuck Helms’ production company), and underground occult filmmaker Kenneth Anger.

By 1970, rehabilitation efforts began on the house and lasted through 1986 through various owners.

Located on the corner across from Alamo Square, the house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a San Francisco Landmark.

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