by Woody LaBounty
A closer look at an OpenSFHistory image.
With the 100th anniversary of the Westwood Park neighborhood upon us, we were excited to scan and put up a few dozen early images of the bungalow residence park under construction in a recent upload.
The images, mostly close-ups of houses under construction or just finished, are all dated with a circa 1920 date until we get better information investigating and identifying each building. Many have signboards propped on the front porches identifying homebuilders Nelson Brothers, Walter E. Hansen, or Bauer & Quinn, and architects Charles F. Strothoff or Ida F. McCain. We believe photographer Gabriel Moulin is the author of the album.
This year, the Westwood Park Association is celebrating its founding in 1917, when the first residents arrived. Resident historian Kathleen Beitiks has a commemorative history being published for the occasion, and the community nestled on the south side of Mount Davidson has a small party planned next month. Preparations for the building and selling of this “residence park,” however, began earlier than 1917.
Archibald S. Baldwin was an experienced real estate man with the firm of Baldwin & Howell. He surveyed Adolph Sutro’s properties for his heirs in 1910, and subsequently pulled together the investors to create the Residential Development Company, which bought Sutro’s rural and forested land around Mount Davidson for development. The company sold off tracts to Mason-McDuffie, Newell-Murdoch, and Fernando Nelson to create the master-planned developments of St. Francis Wood, Forest Hill, and West Portal, but Baldwin held back ninety-three acres fronting the north side of Ocean Avenue for an experiment.
With Westwood Park, Baldwin & Howell didn’t target doctors and lawyers as customers, but instead focused on their clerks. In August 1916, Baldwin made the his plane clear: “We propose to put Westwood Park on the market at conservative prices, placing it within the reach of those who desire moderate priced homes in highly artistic surroundings. This will be one of the first subdivisions of this character to be offered in San Francisco.”1
Westwood Park would have most of the amenities of other residence parks: looping, curving streets; wide lots with reserved yard space and front setbacks; buried electric lines; landscaped medians and ornamental concrete lamp posts. Louis Christian Mullgardt, well-known for his work at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition and the de Young museum, designed the handsome entrance gateways and pillars. While Ingleside Terraces offered Craftsman-style homes and St. Francis Wood took on an Italian Renaissance Revival theme, Westwood Park had its own signature style: the bungalow.
Characterized by wide front porches and deep-eave roofs, the single-story bungalow design is simple, but attractive. Homes have economical floor plans, what would be called “good flow” today, and are embellished with rough-hewn elements, natural coloring, and brick or stone foundation facades.
Baldwin’s experiment was a success. Despite a pause due to building materials restrictions during World War I, Westwood Park completely sold out by 1925.
Read more about Westwood Park on Outside Lands:
1. “Worked is Rushed in Westwood Park Tract,” San Francisco Call and Post, August 12, 1916, page 10, column 3.