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San Francisco Architectural Tours

Docents at San Francisco Architectural Heritage lead tours of dozens of vintage homes.

touring old San Francisco architecture
Photo caption
Soaking up Pacific Heights history in the shadow of a painted lady


Meet a bevy of "painted ladies"—ornate Victorians—on the Pacific Heights Walking Tour offered by San Francisco Architectural Heritage. The two-hour, docent-led stroll takes you by (but not into) dozens of vintage homes. Tours start outside the period-perfect Haas-Lilienthal House, built in 1886 for $18,500, quite a sum at a time when most homes cost less than $2,000. As the walk winds through a 15-block neighborhood, crossing a few mild hills, it treats you to a smorgasbord of styles, from stately Italianates with their Corinthian columns to whimsical, turreted Queen Annes. Along the way docents spin choice yarns, including one about the scion of the Atherton clan who died at sea and whose body arrived unannounced at the family's California Street home preserved in a barrel of whiskey. Tours run every Sunday at 12:30 p.m.; cost is $8. Information: (415) 441-3000,

Photography by Melissa Barnes


This article was first published in March 2005. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.