Arts and Crafts Architecture
Picture Tour

Bowman House

Exterior view of a Shingle Style house. Photo by Howard J. Partridge.

Front (South) Elevation
George F. Bowman House in San Francisco, California

The prolific Samuel Newsom was the architect of this house, designed and built sometime around 1892.  One of my books dates it to 1890 and claims it was for a member of the E. T. Sheppard family, who lived next door.  That may be so, but old San Francisco city directories list Bowman as the first resident in 1893.  It is an early example of the California interpretation of the Shingle Style, designed by a man more often associated with Victorian flamboyance than quiet and casual charm.

The Newsom brothers omission from the pantheon of architects who founded the "First Bay Tradition" may be due in part to the colorful Willis Polk, who dubbed them the "Gruesomes" of the architectural world.  He derided their designs as superficial and without an understanding of the styles being imitated.  That seems pretty harsh, considering the overall quality of the house pictured.  It is a marvelous concoction of Queen Anne and Colonial forms covered in shingles, one that seems to have set the tone for its later and better known Shingle Style neighbors further down the street.  The entrance composition with its zigzagging steps and rounded tower form; the way each floor overhangs the one underneath; and the hooded oriel window bulging out at the apex of the roof, are all executed with great panache.  The house has aged quite well, showing only a few signs of possible remuddling.  The second floor casement (or sliding glass) windows probably replaced originals that were either single or double-hung.  Photograph taken in 1999 by Howard J. Partridge.

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