How old do you think this San Francisco mansion is


Dec 12, 1999
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This mansion is located exactly on the spot where Dr. Dodge and his family lived. However, I don't think it's his house. If you think it's older than 1916, then it Dodge's residence. If not, then it was probably built on Dodge's property, after his residence was destroyed. Any thoughts?

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Dec 2, 2000
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Jan, have you considered checking with the cities building authority? (Or whatever they call themselves.) If anybody would have a record of when this structure went up, these would be the guys.

Nice looking place. Wish I had the moolah to afford it.
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Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Dec 12, 1999
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You're right, Michael, the building authority is my next stop. But I wanted to get some input from our esteemed membership anyway. Interestingly, if you check the map on the site, most properties were listed in the wife's name. For example, 2129 Laguna was listed under "Ruth V. Dodge," Dr. Dodge's wife. This surprised me because I had believed that women couldn't own land, etc., at that time. My guess is that the husbands put the property in their wives' names to keep the homestead from being subject to any judgment, or collection.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I'm not much on tort laws and practice in 1912, so I wouldn't really know. (Tax law loopholes perhaps?) Sounds logical though. You might want to make a research project out of that.

Oh, and good luck with the Building Authority. Government bureaucracy could try the pateince of Job.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Right again, Michael, I called the S.F. Building Authority yesterday. Someone there looked it up on a computer, and told me "1977." I said, "Geez, that can't be right. The building looks like it could have been from before 1900." Then the BA person said "Really." So now I have to go down there, on Mission Street, walk in, make the request, then make a second appointment to view the building records.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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1977? That's cute!

I wonder if this individual had access to the photo you do? Architecture like this hasn't been used for private homes in nearly a century. Not as a matter of routine anyway. I take it that's real stonework in the structure? Translate that to mean "Damned expensive"

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Nov 27, 2005
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California is and has always been a community property state. Our system dates back to when we were a Spanish colony. Women have always been able to own property here in their own name as well as rights to half of any property acquired during the marriage, absent certain exceptions. (There are always some!) Of course this all comes from living in such a beautiful sun drenched area - oops we are talling abut San Francisco - so sun enveloped with dark, gray miserable fog - of course that does prepare them for our great electricity crisis - but I digress.

It could be that the property was hers from inheritance or a previous marriage. David H.
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Yes, David, California is a community property state, but nonetheless, as you're probably aware, the actual title to property still trumps the community presumption. The thing here is that so many of the properties are identified in women's names - - it couldn't all be attributable to inheritances. This, incidently, was a very wealthy neighborhood in San Francisco, at the time. Many of these old mansions are still there.http://content.communities.msn.com/isapi/fetch.dll?action=show_photo&ID_Community=jshomispictures&ID_Topic=26&ID_Message=833

By the way, I don't like the fog either, so I live in the East Bay, and work in Oakland.
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Here's Dr. Dodge's house, from 1912.

Actually, this was a very famous mansion in 1912. It formerly belonged to Henry T. Scott, and President McKinley stayed there in 1901. Here's the picture:
http://content.communities.msn.com/isapi/fetch.dll?action=show_photo&id_community=jshomispictures&id_topic=56&id_message=875

If you compare the looks of this house to the fire insurance maps, it's obviously the Dodge house. Additionally, the information that I have is that it was located at the southwest corner of Laguna Street and Clay Street, which is where 2129 Laguna, the Dodge's address, was in 1912.

I'm still looking up the building records on 2151 Laguna, but it seems unlikely that the present structure could have evolved from this.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>it seems unlikely that the present structure could have evolved from this.<<

Agreed on that. For one thing, the previous building appeared to be larger then the one that exists now. I still don't beleive that the present building dates back to only 1977. I think the chap at the Building Authority got his wires crossed on that one.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Actually, Michael, don't be misled by comparing the sizes shown on the maps, because the scales are different. In fact, the old structure and the new one are the same, or the newer structure is larger. Right now, I'm guessing that the Scott mansion burned down, and that the present structure was built up on the old foundations --because things like the walkway, entrance, etc., all seem to be the same. I'll find out for sure in a week or two (after I get the building permit records).
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Good luck in your detective work, Jan. I'll be looking forward to what you dig up. If you can find out for sure when the presnt house went up, you may be able to backtrack a year or two to find out what happened to the old one. I would think that the Building Authority would have a record of it if the old place was simply demolished.

Or try the newspaper morgues. If the old hovel burned down, I doubt that the newsies would have ignored it. House fires have a funny habit of attracting attention.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Mystery solved, at least in part. 2151 Laguna, the building that's at the corner of Clay and Laguna streets in San Francisco (where the Dodge residence was in 1912), is not a converted mansion, but originally designed as a three-story apartment building -- by San Francisco architect Henry Smith -- for owner, Frank Booth.

Now here's the typical Titanica irony in the story, the building plans are dated June 30, 1919, i.e., the date that Dr. Dodge died!

Interestingly, I found that Dr. Dodge put a new roof on 2129 Laguna on Sept. 23, 1911, for an estimated cost of $40.--
 

Mike Herbold

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Nice work, Jan. You uncovered a lot of interesting little details. The Laguna Street apartment building plans being approved on his death date is sure a strange twist. Any idea, BTW, when the Dodges moved from the Laguna address to Powell Street?

(In another little bit of irony, we had hail down here a few days ago (yes, every few years we have winter in Southern California for a few days) and our roof was damaged. Wish I could get by for $40.)
 
Dec 12, 1999
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http://content.communities.msn.com/isapi/fetch.dll?action=show_photo&ID_Community=jshomispictures&ID_Topic=57&ID_Message=879

Here's a photograph of a house similiar to the Dodge home that still exists. It's on Jackson and Laguna Street, about two blocks down from where the Dodge home was. The door at the entrace is the original, and it's huge. In fact, the whole place looks pretty original, unlike many of the preserved homes of yesteryear.

Check out the pictures of the Spreckels mansion on that page too, it's enormous.

Thanks, guys. I really enjoyed the research. And I want to follow up with the County Recorder to see when Dodge left that area and went to 840 Powell. Obviously, he must have been experiencing a decline in wealth.

Mike, we got the hail, too. Mount Diablo's peaks have more snow on them than I've ever seen.
 
Dec 12, 1999
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"It's a small world after all . . ."

Boy, it is ever. Henry T. Scott, who owned 2129 Laguna Street before Dr. Dodge acquired it, and had President William McKinley stay over at his residence as a guest, was one of the public figures whose name was raised in connection with the 1906-1907 graft prosecutions in San Francisco (see conversation "In The Footsteps of Dr. Washington Dodge").

Scott was chairman of what was then called Pacific States Telephone and Telegraph Co. In 1906, the company bribed the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, with $50,000. The object was to keep out of the city any competing telephone franchise. Board member Louis Glass was indicted for bribery and graft, along with Theodore V. Halsey. The rest of the board, including Scott, testified before the Grand Jury to the effect that they didn't know how the funds had been paid to the Supervisors. Scott apparently wasn't indicted.

Subsequently, on Oct. 12, 1908, a committee appointed by the mayor issued the "Report On Causes Of Municipal Corruption In San Francisco," which identified Scott, and other powerful businessmen in San Francisco, and stated the following:

"Whether boards of directors which have on them many men of integrity in their private affairs, but which are unable to discover that large sums are being paid as bribes to secure benefits for their companies, and which retain benefits after they discover they have been stolen, would be any more efficient in discovering or punishing such frauds on their patrons, is a matter for the present and future officials of the city to solve . . . we feel it is within our jurisdiction to report the names of the prsons who ssat on the boards of directors either during 1906, in which times the briberies where committed, or in 1906, when the briberies were disclosed".

The corruption was so rampant that relief funds secured for the victims of the 1906 earthquake were even embezzled.

As set forth in the "Footsteps" conversation, the criminal element bombed one (D. H. Gallegher's) supervisor's house, mugged a newspaper editor, shot the prosecutor, and kidnapped another editor.

The leading crook, Abraham Ruef, who was eventually sent to San Quentin prison, was indicted in 1906. Then, there occurred a ploy that's akin to the famous Watergate Nixon-Cox "Saturday Night Massacre," i.e., when he was indicted, Ruef tried (through then acting mayor Gallegher) to fire D.A. Langdon and get himself appointed as district attorney. Fortunately, a judge denied that.

After Ruef was finally arrested and imprisoned, (in the St. Francis Hotel --because the police were crooked too, and their jail couldn't be used), he sought release under a writ of habeas corpus. A drunk judge granted the petition. The attorney for the D.A.'s office walked out of the courtroom, in frustration.

Guess who that attorney was? None other than Hiram Johnson, who later prosecuted Dr. Dodge in connection with the Poulsen Wireless Corporation scandals in 1919!!

This litigation so depressed Dr. Dodge that he mortally wounded himself, and died, on June 30, 1919. Incidentally, Dodge's attorney was Gavin McNab, the man Dodge had admonished not to run for mayor in 1905, because San Francisco Bulletin editor Fremont Older threatened to expose McNab's agent's bribery of a state senate committee, if McNab ran (see "Footsteps" conversation).
 

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