Forget the famous Painted Ladies, meet SF's 'Four Seasons' Victorians

SF Gate | Andrew Chamings

The most majestic row of Victorian homes in San Francisco is not on Alamo Square Park.

Sure, the houses at 710-720 Steiner Street, often referred to as "Postcard Row," were featured in the "Full House" opening credits, have its own viral Twitter account and show up in thousands of tourist photos every day, but do they individually reflect the different seasons in resplendent, thoughtful coloring?

For the real queens of San Francisco Victorian architecture, head to 1300-1328 Waller Street, between Masonic Avenue and Del Mar Street, 10 blocks southwest of the famed Alamo Square row, and admire the "Four Seasons" houses, or "Waller Women," as some have referred to them.

Twitter | Sarah Katz-Hymen

The row of Queen Annes (for the lowdown on what a Queen Anne Victorian actually is, read our explainer here) includes four near-identical homes, each with different coloring and features denoting a season. The details on the houses are exquisite, with gingerbread trim, gabled roofs, intricate scrollwork, gold and silver accents and marble staircases. The "Winter" home is embellished with a carved snowflake above the entryway.

Open Homes Photographer

The Four Seasons Victorians on Waller Street were built in the 1890s by shipwright John Whelan. The Whelan family lived in the "Winter" home until 1905. Today, many of the original period details remain. Whelen's "Winter" home was the most recent of the row to sell, for $2.6 million in 2016.


The "Fall" home, two doors down at 1333 Waller, is finished in a deep red and gold, and embellished with leaves.  This five-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom home last sold for $1,725,000 in June 2009. The house was damaged by a fire in 2013 but survived the blaze.

Open Homes Photographer

The term "Painted Ladies" wasn't used until the late '70s, and refers to a trend that started in the 1960s when house painters decided to paint old Victorian homes in three or more colors that embellish their architectural details. The term was first used in San Francisco by writers Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen in their 1978 book, "Painted Ladies: San Francisco's Resplendent Victorians."

Open Homes Photographer

At the time of the sale of 1315 Waller, Curbed SF wrote a rare plea to buyers to give the home a stay of execution from the contractor's hammer, writing, "Just look at it. No, look at it! It is one of the most thrilling homes we have seen land on the SF market in eons." So next time you're thinking about taking a trip to the most photographed row of houses in America, maybe take a detour to Waller Street and enjoy San Francisco's "other" Painted Ladies.

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