Arts and Crafts Architecture
Picture Tour

Brown - Scott - Smith House (page 2 of 3)

Front and side view of an exceptionally fine English Arts and Crafts inspired townhouse. Photo by Howard J. Partridge.

General View from the Southeast
James Nash Brown - Alice Scott - Reginald Knight Smith House
San Francisco, California

Ernest Coxhead's 1895 house design is a spare, sharp-edged composition that he enlivened with a little well-placed and often exaggerated classical detail.  Note the enormous keystones above the windows in the foreground, the generous string course halfway up the building, and the grandiose entrance portal on the right.  Historians usually describe the design as a Jacobean or Georgian Revival.  The Georgian label is not too convincing; the design lacks the perfect axial symmetry, paired end chimneys, and broader, more horizontal massing that typify the style.

The influence of the English Arts and Crafts Movement is also visible in the design.  The general forms and massing take their cues from the English Queen Anne style that had become one of the movement's primary sources of inspiration.  This influence is also evident in the design's "honest" brick construction, its relative lack of surface decoration, and its somewhat asymmetrical and seemingly functional arrangement of doors and windows.  Coxhead enjoyed making his designs look as if they had evolved over time, which meant he was not afraid to introduce a certain level of quirkiness to his designs.  This may account for the boxy, big windowed appendage along the street corner and the oversized front door (see next image), whose offset placement play nicely against the implied symmetry of the main block.  The house was one of the first houses in San Francisco wired for electricity.  It must have been remarkably well built, surviving major earthquakes in 1906 and 1989.  Photograph taken from the adjacent park in 2001 by Howard J. Partridge.

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