Vertigo Celebrates 60 Years!

Vertigo Movie Poster

The Making of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo (1958)

CAST

James Stewart
Kim Novak
Barbara Bel Geddes
Henry Jones
(Click their name if you would like to know more!)

Vertigo is one of Alfred Hitchcock's most powerful, deep, and stunningly beautiful films. At the time of the film's release, it was not a box-office hit, but has since been regarded as one of the greatest films ever made. It is a film noir that functions on multiple levels and was filmed mostly in beautiful San Francisco. The work is a mesmerizing romantic suspense/thriller about a dance with death, romantic delusion and an extreme case of acrophobia.

If you are a Hitchcock Vertigo fan, you will enjoy these fun facts about the film:

1. ALFRED HITCHCOCK BLAMED JIMMY STEWART FOR VERTIGO’S FAILURE.

Marred by mixed reviews, the $2.5 million Vertigo did comparatively less than Hitchcock’s previous movies, and was widely a recognized failure. Frustrated with its reception, Hitchcock partly blamed star Jimmy Stewart’s aging appearance. At the time of filming, Stewart—who had starred in Hitchcock’s three previous films—was 50 years old which, according to the director, was too old to convincingly play then-25-year-old Kim Novak’s love interest.

2. EDITH HEAD USED COLOR TO HIGHLIGHT THE CHARACTERS’ STATE OF MIND.

When having costume disagreements with Kim Novak about her famous gray suit, Head “explained to her that Hitch paints a picture in his films, that color is as important to him as any artist”. After a discussion with the director when Head wouldn’t relent, Novak finally understood their creative choices, “I thought, ‘He knows my point of view, he must see a reason why that would work. He wants me to feel that discomfort as Madeleine. And, of course, she should feel that way because she’s actually Judy, playing the part of somebody, so that edge of discomfort will help me.’”

3. KIM NOVAK WAS ALREADY BEING CONSIDERED TO REPLACE VERA MILES, HITCHCOCK’S FIRST-CHOICE LEADING LADY, BEFORE MILES DROPPED OUT DUE TO A PREGNANCY.

According to Vertigo: The Making of a Hitchcock Classic, Hitchcock began to have doubts about Miles’s ability to be a breakout star when she showed signs of reluctance to be shaped by the director. Thus, Hitchcock sought a possible substitute. Author Dan Aulier writes, “A few weeks before Miles reported to Stage 5 at Paramount for hair, costume, and makeup tests, Hitchcock screened The Eddy Duchin Story, a biopic featuring an actress [Kim Novak] who was being molded by one of Hitchcock's crosstown rivals [Harry Cohn].”

4. HITCHCOCK EXPLORED NECROPHILIA WHILE SHOOTING THE FILM.

Hitchcock elaborated on the most perverse scene of Vertigo: the part in which Novak’s Judy dresses up as the dead woman with whom Stewart’s Scottie is obsessed. “I indulged in a form of necrophilia,”  In the scene, Scottie can’t bring himself to have sex with Judy until every detail matches his former lover, Madeleine.

5. AN UNCREDITED CAMERAMAN CAME UP WITH THE FAMOUS "VERTIGO EFFECT."

According to associate producer Herbert Coleman, it wasn’t Hitchcock who came up with the film’s famous camera technique (which essentially involves zooming forward while pulling the camera backward); rather, it was an uncredited second unit cameraman, Irwin Roberts. “He didn’t get screen credit on Vertigo because they gave the screen credit to another close friend, [Wallace Kelley] who did all the process work on the stage,”.

6. THE PRODUCTION CODE ADMINISTRATION POLICED THE MORALS OF THE FILM’S CHARACTERS.

Considering this was the 1950s, any kind of sexual activity was scrutinized. According to Auiler’s book on the making of Vertigo, the Production Code Administration, under the leadership of Geoffrey Shurlock, wanted to eliminate several scenes that contained illicit sex. This included, but was not limited to, discussions between Scottie and Midge (Barbara Bel Geddes) about her bra and her love life, and any underwear pictured during Madeleine’s suicide attempt.

7. THE FILM WENT THROUGH SEVERAL TITLE OPTIONS.

While the source novel’s literal translation was From Among the Dead, which is the title under which the film was cast and shot, it didn’t stick. A few Paramount execs weighed in with their suggestions, which included A Matter of FactThe Mad CarlottaFace in the Shadow, and Possessed by a Stranger.

8. A MUSICIANS GUILD STRIKE AFFECTED THE FINAL CUT.

In 1958, the same year Vertigo was in post-production, Hollywood's musical status quo changed drastically. Studios were dissolving their in-house music departments, so the industry’s composers, orchestra members, and musicians had to start working freelance or were out of jobs. According to a 1996 interview with Hitchcock’s daughter, Patricia, the union had a lot of things working against them: a leader who didn't look out for them, Hollywood using cheaper old recordings from Europe, and a tense intra-union split amongst members.

“Bernard Herrmann didn’t conduct himself,” said Patricia. “It couldn’t be done in Hollywood, so it was taken to London with Muir Mathieson conducting, and they did about a day and a half there, then the London orchestra went out in sympathy with the Los Angeles musicians. And the entire unit had to move to Vienna.” During the film’s restoration in the 1990s, each country’s recording ultimately aged differently, leaving the folks at Universal to remaster its sound.

9. ALFRED HITCHCOCK CHANGED THE SETTING FROM PARIS TO SAN FRANCISCO.

The French source novel, D'entre les Morts, was set in Paris, but Hitchcock believed that San Francisco was more interesting. With the city's vertiginous streets and hilly landscape, the location perfectly matched the film’s themes. In a city where there were such extreme physical highs and lows, awful for anyone with acrophobia, Scottie’s vertigo became a character in and of itself.

10. DESPITE HITCHCOCK’S TASKMASTER REPUTATION, KIM NOVAK GOT ALONG WITH HER DIRECTOR.

Happy to be on loan from Columbia, the Harry Cohn-run studio under which Novak was contracted, Novak reveled in her experience with Hitchcock. “I didn’t find him controlling whatsoever,” she told The Telegraph“I found him a joy.” She elaborated saying, “[Hitchcock] didn’t make me feel ‘less than.’ He never said, ‘You’re not doing it right…’  What I would do after a take is to look in Jimmy Stewart’s eyes … I used Jimmy to give me what I needed to keep going and to know that I was on the right path with it … So, Hitchcock wouldn’t say anything about my work in the movie but, on the other hand, he wouldn’t complain, either.”

San Francisco Movie Locations

What's in a name?

Chinatown.jpg

San Francisco neighborhoods and how they got their names. 

With the help of my favorite daily read Curbed San Francisco, I have compiled their list for everyone on my list to enjoy! 

Alamo Square: Alamo Square Park began as a mere watering hole on a horse trail, marked by a standout poplar tree. San Francisco Mayor James Van Ness created both the park and its name in 1857, according to the San Francisco Parks Alliance. “Alamo” means “poplar” in Spanish.

Ashbury Heights: According to the Library of Congress, nearby Ashbury Street is named for Munroe Ashbury, former member of the Board of Supervisors.

Balboa Park: The park itself is probably named after early 16th century Spanish explorer Vasco Nuñez de Balboa—not to be confused with the park of the same name in San Diego. (Which was definitely named after Vasco Nuñez de Balboa).

Bayview: Naturally, the name comes by way of the proximity to the bay, although the San Francisco Travel Association credits the long lost Bay View Racetrack with pioneering the moniker.

Bernal Heights: Wealthy rancher José Cornelio Bernal once owned a quarter of present-day San Francisco, conferred on him via a land grant from Mexico in 1839. According to a San Francisco Chronicle obituary, some portion of the land stayed in the family until 1926 and the death of Bernal’s grandson of the same name.

The Castro: Several-times governor of various parts of California, General Jose Castroseems to have had a somewhat luckless life, which included losing California to John Sloat and John Fremont with hardly any opposition and then later being assassinated by bandits.

Chinatown: The city experimented with a few variations on the theme in the 1850s before “Chinatown” eventually stuck. Once upon a time, Sacramento Street was known as China Street.

Civic Center: Present-day Civic Center resulted from an $8.8 million bond ($227 million in modern currency) approved by San Francisco voters in 1912, after the 1906 earthquake devastated the previous Civic Center.

Clarendon Heights: Named after nearby Clarendon Avenue, but from where that name derived seems a mystery.

Cole Valley: The SF Streets database credits 19th century San Francisco doctor Francisco Cole as the most likely namesake for the street and surrounding area.

Corona Heights: Corona Heights Park started off as a quarry dubbed Rock Hill. According to SF Parks Alliance, the city conferred the present name on it when buying land for park space in 1941.

Cow Hollow: Yes, once upon a time most of present day Cow Hollow was dairy farms—and, naturally, there were cows.

Crocker-Amazon: The Crocker part possibly comes from local railroad tycoon Charles Crocker, who once owned most of this land. Amazon Street may have gotten its name from the Amazon women of Greek myth, whom 16th century Spanish novelist Montalvorecalled in his novel about a far-off island nation ruled by warrior women and dubbed “California,” which is from where the name first came.

Diamond Heights: The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency picked the sparkling name when it created the neighborhood from scratch in the 1950s. If there was any particular reason for the diamond moniker—except for the chicness factor—it’s not evident.

Dogpatch: Similarly, Dogpatch is proverbial for the nonsensicality of its mysterious name. Other than general speculation that there must once have been a noteworthy number of dogs around, there’s little use in arguing about this one. Another speculation is that the name was derived from barflies who used to frequent an area watering hole.

Dolores Heights: One day in 1776, a chaplain accompanying Spanish explorer Juan Batista de Anza’s expedition wrote in his diary, “We arrived at a beautiful creek, which because it was Friday of Sorrows, we called the Arroyo de Los Dolores.” Although it’s no longer clear where Dolores Creek once was, the name has endured long after it vanished.

Duboce Triangle: Spanish-American war veteran Victor Duboce was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1899 but served less than a year before dying. Almost immediately after his death, neighbors began stumping to name a park after him, so great was his reputation at the time.

Embarcadero: No mystery here: the Spanish word “embarcar” means simply “to embark.”

Excelsior: The Excelsior Homestead dates to at least 1869 in surviving San Francisco records. Where that got its name in the first place is less clear, although the word itself is Latin and means (roughly) “ever upward.”

The Fillmore: Fillmore Street is named for Millard Fillmore, the former U.S. president who admitted California into the Union.

Forest Hill: The name says it all: When opened up for development in the early 1900s, it was mostly forestland.

Glen Park: Similarly, the “Glen” name is just a reference to the area’s valley geography.

The Haight: Banker Henry Haight came to San Francisco in 1850 and later served as governor. He is credited with founding the University of California.

Hayes Valley: San Francisco County Clerk Thomas Hayes owned and developed the land around this neighborhood in the 1860s.

Hunters Point: The three Hunter brothers bought this land from the aforementioned Bernal in the 19th century. Note that it’s never “Hunter’s Point”—just “Hunters Point” without the possessive.

Ingleside: According to the Western Neighborhoods Project, New York transplant Cornelius Stagg opened his Ingleside (“fireside”) Inn here in 1885. Which, alas, means we were this close to a neighborhood called “Staggstown,” but someone dropped the ball.

Jackson Square: As most people could guess, Jackson Street is named for Andrew Jackson, former U.S. president and headliner on the $20 bill.

Japantown: Originally “Nihonjin Machi,” San Francisco’s first Japanese enclave settled in what’s SoMa today. After the 1906 earthquake, survivors relocated near the present locale.

Jordan Park: Named after late 19th century landowner James Clark Jordan. Imagine if modern San Francisco tycoons got to name neighborhoods after themselves like that: Benioff Heights, Thiel Place, Mount Zuckerberg.

Laguna Honda: Yes, there was once a lagoon in this neighborhood, although it’s long since disappeared, along with the Gold Rush speculators who first built the Laguna Honda “almshouse” here.

Lake Merced: Another product of Spanish exploration and colonization, they dubbed the namesake lake “The Lake of Our Lady of Mercy” in either 1774 or 1775. (Accounts vary.)

Laurel Heights: In April of 1867, the Daily Alta California newspaper ran the following item: “Lone Mountain Cemetery has ceased to exist as articles of incorporation were filed yesterday by several prominent citizens by which a certain portion of Lone Mountain Cemetery has become legally into possession of the name of Laurel Hill Cemetery. The latter is a much prettier name, but it will be a long time before this generation will consent to the change.”

Little Hollywood: Disappointingly, SFGate says that the name stuck simply because folks in the early 20th century thought the homes here resembled those in Southern California.

Lone Mountain: It’s more of a hill than a mountain, of course, but apparently it stood out enough in the relatively flat surroundings to garner a nickname. Note that the aforementioned Lone Mountain Cemetery is probably the reason the name endured.

The Marina: There’s a marina here.

The Mission: There’s a California mission here.

Mission Bay: Modern Mission Bay doesn’t seem particularly close to the Mission, but much of the intervening neighborhoods didn’t exist at the time the name came up, and at one time the waters extended much further inland.

Mount Davidson: Adolph Sutro named the peak after George Davidson, who was a founding member of the Sierra Club. Despite the photographic evidence, he was not also a time traveling James Cromwell.

Nob Hill: People still argue about this one, but the most popular explanation is that “Nob” is a snarky elision of “nabob,” in reference to the wealthy tycoons who built their mansions here.

Noe Valley: Named for alcalde (mayor) of Yerba Buena Jose de Jesus Noe, who had so many great names it’s amazing they managed to pick just one.

North Beach: There hasn’t been a beach here in generations, of course. That’s infill for you.

NoPa: Neighbors usually resist when realtors try to create new neighborhood designations by sheer power of repetition, and many locals still cringe at the NoPa name. But Hoodline contends the name is actually a century old, so who knows.

Oceanview: A strange story, as this neighborhood was once called Lakeview, a reference to nearby Lake Geneva. But Lake Geneva no longer exists, so they changed the name to Oceanview, even though only a small part of the neighborhood affords a view of the ocean.

Pacific Heights: Note that Magellan conferred the name “Pacific” on the waters of the Western Hemisphere, meaning “peaceful.”

Polk Gulch: U.S. Pesident James K. Polk presided over the Mexican-American War, which, with the benefit of hindsight, probably wasn’t such a great thing. But it did mark the transfer of California to the United States.

Portola: Gaspar de Portola founded both San Diego and Monterey on his 18th century expedition north through California, which eventually terminated near the present day Golden Gate.

Potrero Hill: Turns out the “pasture hill” name is pretty literal, as former alcalde Don Francisco de Haro used the land granted to him to graze cattle. Lucky break that the neighborhood isn’t “Cow Hill.”

Presidio Heights: According to Gary Kamiya’s book Cool Gray City of Love, the original Spanish Presidio only survived a couple of years. Turns out adobe architecture was not the ticket for SF’s foggy climate.

The Richmond: Another one nobody can quite agree upon, the most often cited storyis that an Australian immigrant named the neighborhood after his native city, a suburb of Melbourne. Previously, all of the far western reaches were known as the Outside Lands.

Rincon Hill: “Rincon” means “corner” in Spanish. However, the geography that provoked the name to begin with no longer exists.

Russian Hill: Possibly the most oddball legacy of the lot, Gold Rush settlers discovered a cemetery atop this hill with Russian names inscribed, apparently the remains of unlucky sailors from the westward seas.

Sea Cliff: Although now one of the most wealthy SF neighborhoods, in the 19th century what would one day become Sea Cliff was mostly just a village for Chinese immigrant fisherman. “China Beach” could just as easily have become the name of the entire neighborhood rather than just the beach itself.

SoMa: For whatever it’s worth, SOMA magazine published a piece noting that editor-in-chief Ali Ghanbarian has long credited himself with making the “SoMa” portmanteau popular. Take from that what you will.

South Beach: The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency built South Beach Harbor in 1986, and as the premiums of the surrounding blocks rose they adopted the name to distinguish itself from nearby SoMa.

South Park: According to SF Recreation and Parks, San Francisco’s oldest park was “originally conceived as a London-style city garden.” Now, of course, it’s not even particularly far south, by the city’s present borders.

St. Francis Wood: Italian friar Saint Francis of Assissi, for whom the tony neighborhood is named, is also the namesake for San Francisco.

Sunnyside: German immigrant cum developer Behrend Joost, the “Father of Southwest San Francisco,” seemed to be fond of the Sunnyside moniker, naming two of his companies “Sunny Side” before granting the name to the neighborhood.

The Sunset: Once, this westernmost neighborhood was actually called “Carville,“ as early SF bohemians built homes out of decommissioned streetcars and other vehicles. The Sunset moniker was the brainchild of later developers casting around for a marketable name.

Telegraph Hill: Originally it was just “Loma Alta”—literally “high hill.” But apparently that was too obvious, so the telegraph moniker came by way of the old semaphore that long sat at the peak.

The Tenderloin: Named for the neighborhood in New York City, there’s a longstanding dispute over precisely what it means. Popular myth has it that beat cops made extra money for steak dinners working here, though whether they were eating off of hazard pay or bribes isn’t clear. The Tenderloin Museum, on the other hand, suggests that the name refers to the city’s “underbelly.”

Treasure Island: The island could hardly have less to do with the Robert Louis Stevenson classic, but even so here it is.

Twin Peaks: According SF Recreation and Parks, the Spanish originally dubbed Twin Peaks “Los Pechos de la Choca,” which translates into “the Breasts of the Maiden.” Just “Twin Peaks” is a little nondescript by comparison, but who can blame them?

Union Square: During the Civil War, rabble rousing minister Thomas Starr Kingwould harangue the masses here, calling for an end to slavery and victory for the Union. Maybe the fact that both of those occasions came to pass is the reason the name hung around.

Visitacion Valley: Another neighborhood named for the land grant rancho that once stood here, in this case Rancho Cañada de Guadalupe, La Visitacion y Rodeo Viejo.

West Portal: Named for the terminus of the Twin Peaks Tunnel. Which poses a Schrodinger’s Cat-style paradox: While the tunnel is closed, is the neighborhood still there?

Western Addition: The city created the Western Addition in the mid-19th century as a response to squatters creating ad hoc settlements outside the city’s westernmost borders.

Yerba Buena: Yerba Buena is the last holdout of the city of San Francisco’s original name. It translates to “good herb,” which, of course, provokes dank snickering today, but the reference is actually to the wild mint that used to grow on the hillsides.

Dig deeper and learn about a few more neighborhoods not included on the list. Thank you, Wikipedia!

List of neighborhoods in San Francisco

 

A Sweet Ride Around San Francisco in 1955

How fun is this film! This film took place well before I was born, but depicts the San Francisco I have always loved. Take this wonderful tour around San Francisco and visit many of the landmarks that are still here today. The landscape has definitely changed over time and you will see places in this movie that are no longer here, but the heart of San Francisco still remains! Enjoy!

Cinematography by - Tullio Pellegrini
Filmed with Bell and Howell's Filmorama Lens

Iconic Coca Cola Sign

Coca Cola SF

San Francisco History

Standing 112 feet above Bryant Street atop a three-story building in San Francisco's South of Market area, the Coca Cola billboard has been a landmark for drivers going to and from the Bay Bridge since 1937 -- One year after the bridge opened to traffic.

The Spencerian script of the logo with its glowing background in a shade known as Coca-Cola Red was originally illuminated with neon. It alternately twinkled and shone for the better part of seven decades, but in 2010 it began showing its age.

Seventy-feet long and 30 feet high, the new sign is about the same size as its predecessor, but the look at night is crisper and the colors seem more vibrant.

The work to remove the original lighting system and reface the billboard with 4,800 CFLs for the white lettering and strip LEDs for the background took crews working day and night. The billboard was dark for only four days.

When I return from a long trip, I can always count on one of my favorite signs to light up and welcome me back to San Francisco. I am sure for years to come.......
 

A Trip Down Market Street

NEW FOOTAGE AND SOUND! ENJOY!!

Many of us by now have seen this short film of a trip down San Francisco's Market Street in 1906. Four days after the film was made, San Francisco was rocked by an earthquake. The ensuing three-day firestorm destroyed three-quarters of the city, certainly, everything shown in this film. Mike Upchurch has recently done an excellent job of adding sounds to the film. Here is more information about the film with a link to the audio-enhanced version.

The origin of the film was an enigma for many decades, and it was long thought to have been shot in September of 1905, after being dated as such by the Library of Congress based on the state of construction of several buildings. However, in 2009 and 2010, film historian David Kiehn, co-founder of Niles Film Museum in Niles, California, dated the film to the spring of 1906 from automobile registrations and weather records. Kiehn eventually found promotional materials from the film's original release and dated the film to April 14th, 1906, and finally gave credit to the filmmakers, the Miles Brothers.

Restoration: This version was transferred from a new 35mm print made from a restored 35mm negative, taken from the 1906-era 35mm print owned by the Prelinger Archives. This version does not appear to have any digital restoration, except minimal contrast and brightness adjustments.

Post Effects: This version of the film has been digitally stabilized to remove jitter.

Resources: Sounddogs, Youtube, Horseless.com, Wikipedia, Archive.org, Streetcar.org, earlyamericalautomobiles.com, Prelinger Archives.

Accuracy: Automobile sounds are all either Ford Model T, or Model A, which came out later, but which have similarly designed engines, and sound quite close to the various cars shown in the film. The horns are slightly inaccurate as mostly bulb horns were used at the time, but were substituted by the far more recognizable electric "oogaa" horns, which came out a couple years later. The streetcar sounds are actual San Francisco streetcars. Doppler effect was used to align the sounds.

Produced by: The Miles Brothers Photographed by: Harry J Miles Sound Design by: Mike Upchurch

And to learn more about the historic film, here's a clip from 60 Minutes with Morley Safer.

FROM BROADWAY TO BELVEDERE

In 1962, architect Norman Gilroy rejected the notion that San Francisco’s historic buildings should be sacrificed in the name of progress. 1818 Broadway, a mansion that Willis Polk designed for Dr. Francis Moffitt in 1914, was slated to be razed for an apartment complex. It’s owners agreed to sell Gilroy the mansion if he moved it off the site.

1818 Broadway shown in its original location.

1818 Broadway shown in its original location.

After several months of negotiating for financing and for building transportation permits at both ends of the move, Moffitt Mansion was ready to journey to the property of some partners on Belvedere Island, which was 15 land and sea miles away across the bay. Using a chainsaw, workers literally sliced the 15-room mansion into two neat sections, each 30 feet high, 35 by 40 feet on plan, and weighing 85-100 tons.

"If you hear this particular whistle, don’t think: just run, the foreman warned. As the first house section moved onto the steep Franklin Street hill, its full weight suddenly canted onto its front dolly. With a scream like a train whistle, the impact tore a one inch steel box beam in two, knocking a two-foot hole in the street. Movers scattered like rabbits."

Chainsaw

This half of a house is ready to go! Ayen Movers claims this was the “largest and most complicated moving job ever attempted in San Francisco” It required 30-foot-vertical street clearances, navigating a 2.5 mile route through a congested area, and an elevation drop of 185 feet. Completed at night to avoid disrupting traffic, the move required lowering transit and power lines at several major street intersections to allow the sections to pass.

Here, workers jack the house up at 3:30am.

Here, workers jack the house up at 3:30am.

It required 30-foot-vertical street clearances, navigating a 2.5 mile route through a congested area, and an elevation drop of 185 feet.

“If you hear this particular whistle, don’t think: just run, the foreman warned. As the first house section moved onto the steep Franklin Street hill, its full weight suddenly canted onto its front dolly. With a scream like a train whistle, the impact tore a one inch steel box beam in two, knocking a two-foot hole in the street. Movers scattered like rabbits."

Time spent waiting for the right weather conditions was not wasted. This photograph shows the two sections being weather proofed for their sea journey. Meanwhile, temporary tracks and a ramp were being built to slide the building halves over the seawall onto the barge for transport.

A close-up shot of the track to the barge shows the amount of work and detail that went into building the ramp to slide the buildings from land to barge. A similar ramp for unloading was later built on the other side of the bay. With one of the halves of the Moffitt Mansion in the distance, it is easy to appreciate the immense size and scope of the project.

A close-up shot of the track to the barge shows the amount of work and detail that went into building the ramp to slide the buildings from land to barge. A similar ramp for unloading was later built on the other side of the bay. With one of the halves of the Moffitt Mansion in the distance, it is easy to appreciate the immense size and scope of the project.

In this shot, the house and barge with its tug captained by Master Mariner John Seaborne, is leaving the San Francisco shoreline for Belvedere Island. The trip will take one full day battling wind and tides in the Golden Gate all the way. The follow up positioning and siting work was left to Ayen house movers, and contractors were hired to restore and reconstruct the residence and landscape grounds.

In this shot, the house and barge with its tug captained by Master Mariner John Seaborne, is leaving the San Francisco shoreline for Belvedere Island. The trip will take one full day battling wind and tides in the Golden Gate all the way. The follow up positioning and siting work was left to Ayen house movers, and contractors were hired to restore and reconstruct the residence and landscape grounds.

West Shore Blvd

On West Shore Road, the sections were lowered into place on newly poured concrete foundations. The view shows the house after the halves were rejoined. Amazingly, the gap between the sections was exactly the width of the first chainsaw cut made on Broadway. The original Polk drawings, found walled up in the house, guided the restoration, and damaged pilasters and moldings were replaced with plaster casts and high-quality modern-day hand carving.

The Moffitt Mansion move is testimony to how an idealistic gamble by a single architect inspired others to preserve important buildings for posterity. Without Norman Gilroy’s vision and determination to convince city officials that historic houses could still be moved and preserved, the later rescue and restoration of many Painted Lady Victorians in the Western Addition might never have happened.

This interior shot captures just one room of the residence’s restored glory.

This interior shot captures just one room of the residence’s restored glory.

8 West Shore Blvd today!

8 West Shore Blvd today!

 

 

 

Four Spirits and a Sunny Victorian

Atherton Mansion at 1990 California Street

1990 California Street  Pacific Heights

1990 California Street Pacific Heights

In 1860, Atherton moved to California. One of his numerous real estate purchases was his estate in San Mateo County, which he called Valparaiso Park. The land now forms much of present-day Atherton. Atherton married Dominga de Goñi, daughter of a prominent Chileno family. They had seven children, among them George H. Bowen, who later married Gertrude Franklin Horn, one of California's most important authors.

Atherton was a notorious womanizer and traveled often. This alienated his wife and family. His wife, Dominga de Goñi, was forced to take charge of the estate and found she much enjoyed the power she wielded. This was unfortunate for their son George, as he often bore the brunt of his mother's dominance.

After Atherton's death, Dominga de Goñi left Fair Oaks (later known as Atherton) and moved into the city. She built the Atherton Mansion at 1990 California on the corner of Octavia and California streets in the exclusive Pacific Heights district in 1881. Dominga de Goñi lived there with her son George and his strong willed wife Gertrude. George was somewhat of an embarrassment to the socially prominent Athertons, and the two strong-willed women with whom he lived constantly called his manhood into question.

In 1887, George found his living situation unbearable and he accepted an invitation to sail to Chile. Ostensibly he was going to visit friends, but in actuality he sought to prove his mettle and earn a place of honor in his family much like his father before him.

The trip proved to be his undoing. George Atherton developed kidney problems during the voyage and died. The ship's captain preserved George's remains by storing the body in a barrel of rum, which was shipped back to the Atherton household several weeks later. However, there was no indication that the cask contained anything more than rum and when it was opened by the Atherton's butler there was quite a stir caused by the sight of his former master.

The ship’s captain preserved George’s remains by storing the body in a barrel of rum, which was shipped back to the Atherton household several weeks later.

George's body was dried out and buried, but shortly thereafter, his spirit apparently decided to avenge itself on the women who'd tormented him in life. Dominga de Goñi and Gertrude reported being awakened at night by knocks at their bedroom doors and by a cold and disturbing presence. The phenomenon grew so troublesome that Dominga de Goñi sold the mansion and moved out. Subsequent tenants also have been unsettled by phantom knockings and roaming cold spots. None stayed very long.

That is until 1923, when the property was purchased by an eccentric Carrie Rousseau. She lived exclusively in the house's ball room surrounded by more than 50 cats until her death in 1974 at the age of 93. Since then the mansion has been remodeled into several apartments. However, the manifestations still occur. Residents report moving cold spots, wind blowing through closed rooms, voices in the night, and knocking sounds.

A séance conducted by Sylvia Brown identified several spirits active in the house. Three were female spirits, "who just don't like men," and a "frail" male spirit. She believes the home is still haunted by the ghosts of Dominga de Goñi, George, and Gertrude Atherton, and Carrie Rousseau.

1990 California Ball Room

Coffee Dan's - Open all Night

“There will be dancing to the tinkle of a piano; there will be songs and it will never, never close, not even for fire!

No one should forget San Francisco’s riotous Coffee Dan’s. The original club opened in 1879 as a cabaret located in the basement below Daniel Davis’ restaurant on the southeast corner of Sutter and Kearny. After the earthquake and fire of 1906, Dan moved his club to Powell and O’Farrell Streets. Like its predecessor, it opened for breakfast, serving customers long past dinner with entertainers that belied the apparent low station of the café. Posh city magazine The Wasp proclaimed Coffee Dan’s the rendezvous for San Francisco’s elite in their May 20, 1916 issue.

Coffee Dan's O'Farrell Street
Coffee   Dan

Coffee Dan

Dan died in 1917 and son John Davis took over management. It was Prohibition and Coffee Dan’s was now a “ham & egger.” Ham & egger was code for a speakeasy, and Dan’s sold more ham and eggs than anyone in the city. Access was via a slide down to the basement level at the first location. Ladies with skirts and dresses soon learned of the slide’s pitfalls, requiring that special Coffee Dan’s grip. Some used the stairs made available for the less adventuresome.

The nighttime entertainment was great jazz, offering far more than just good liquor. Frank Shaw performed at Coffee Dan’s. The club also featured John Davis’ wife, Ruby Adams, an incomparable jazz singer. Small wooden mallets were provided for applause, and the tables took a beating. The dishware was cheap and breaking dishes signaled the highest level of appreciation. Calling for service also required rapping on the table with a mallet or dish. Hold your coffee cup below table level, and a waiter would fill it from his hip flask.

Dan’s gained international fame when featured in 1927’s early talkie, The Jazz Singer with Al Jolson. Frank Shaw recording of A Night at Coffee Dan’s in 1928, captured the spirit of the club.

Leveraging off the fame, Davis opened Coffee Dan’s houses in Los Angeles and aimed for New York, Detroit and Cleveland. San Francisco’s Coffee Dan’s relocated to the famous 430 Mason Street address, just off Geary and below the Cable Car Theatre in 1932 after Davis lost his lease. All remained as it was: slide, hammers and entertainment.

The club went legitimate after the repeal of prohibition but retained the fun and nighttime entertainment. It still claimed the title as the noisiest joint in the city throughout its existence and was a favorite of sailors in WWII. Coffee Dan’s remained open through the 1950s, and then slipped away with minimal clatter.

Today, the club at 430 Mason is known as Slide, a modern day speakeasy that celebrates its predecessor at that location.

Slide

Slide

The City of Jewles

The City of Jewels - 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition

"The Innocent Fair" is a documentary from amazing rare nitrate film footage from the 1915 Panama-Pacific exposition shot in San Francisco.  The historical silent film reels were found in 1961 in Tiburon and subsequently employed by Ray Hubbard as the basis for this piece that he wrote and produced for KPIX-TV. 

While the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition was held to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal in 1913, it was also seen by city planners and dwellers as a stage to show off the city's - albeit hasty - resurgence and recovery following the earthquake and great fire of 1906. Today's only remaining specimen of the exhibit is the Palace of Fine Arts, however, the exposition left its stamp on the city, through its innovative architecture and city planning, yielding civic projects and developments that remain visible today, for example in the design of present day Civic Center with its Civic Auditorium and the contemporaneous structure of the emerging City Hall.

THE CHUTES!!

It is early morning on a sunny day, November 2, 1895.

The Chutes

In this picture from about 1895 of the Chutes we can see Haight Street running from the center of the image to the upper right; Page Street is one block beyond. Clayton is parallel to the top fence and runs off to the left, with Ashbury one block above it.

Gate to the Chutes in the Haight, a popular amusement park.

Gate to the Chutes in the Haight, a popular amusement park.

Inside view of the Haight Chutes

Inside view of the Haight Chutes

As the cable car you have been riding up Market Street makes a turn onto Haight Street and passes the Protestant Orphan Asylum at Buchanan, you notice a change of scenery. The houses are farther apart with fields in between where you can see a few cows and horses grazing. As you crest the hill at Baker, you notice the Calvary and Odd Fellows cemeteries off to the North. Buena Vista has been recently reserved as a park by commissioners, Ashbury, Clayton, Shrader, Stanyan and Cole.

Today is the opening of San Francisco's newest attraction, The Chutes at the end of Haight Street and the crowd is already gathering. The skeletal 60 ft. structure stands starkly alone in the early morning sun. The attraction will prove so popular that an elevated model railroad, balloon ascensions, boxing exhibitions and a zoo will be added in later years. It is claimed that the gondola, a boat on rollers, reaches 60 miles per hour as it hits the water of the artificial lake at the bottom of the tower. That's the thrill: hardly anyone has ever gone that fast up until now.

By 1896 on November 19, 13,634 patrons had paid the 10 cents admission for the rip-roaring 10 second ride down The Chutes. That day, Professor Markesburg made a parachute drop nearby while hanging from his teeth. Soon afterward a competitor made a drop hanging by his toes. "Man Fish," ate, drank and smoked under water. Antonio Pirri rode a bicycle down The Chutes and into the lake and was immediately surpassed by "Arion," who pumped his bicycle over a live trolley wire sixty feet above the lake. The courageous Albert Richards thrilled crowds by making a 60 foot dive into two feet of water. In 1897 a theater was added where the crowd was entertained by circus acts. Neighborhood residents could hear lions roaring at night. "Little Egypt" excited the most interest in 1899 with her "hootchy kootchy" dance. 1900 saw many theater productions including Nora Bayes. The fact that she had just finished a successful run at the Orpheum was a sure sign of the Chutes popularity. The year's entertainment ended with a holiday production, "Ten Days in Fairyland" by a juvenile company. At end of the year 1901, a huge Christmas tree was erected bearing a present for each child in the audience.

In 1902, The Chutes had outgrown its Haight Street location and was moved to the Richmond around Fulton Street and 10th Avenue. Now near the entrance to the DeYoung Museum!!

For seven frolicking years from 1902-1907 , the Richmond District was home to the "largest pleasure resort in America" -  the Chutes   at Fulton and 10th!

For seven frolicking years from 1902-1907, the Richmond District was home to the "largest pleasure resort in America" - the Chutes at Fulton and 10th!

ECCENTRICITY AT IT'S FINEST!!

In 1896, Willis Polk designed this "Cottage" for William Bowers Bourn II. The exterior is clad in clinker brick and was financed from the Mother Lode vein of gold that created one of San Francisco's greatest fin de siècle fortunes.  Over the years the home became a curiosity and fell into disrepair before being purchased by the current owners in 2010.

We found an article from 1998 written by Jack Boulware that we thought you would enjoy!

William Bourn, who was head of the Spring Valley Water Company, had made a fortune from his  Empire Mine  near Grass Valley. In 1897 he commissioned young  Willis Polk  to design this handsome town house in the Carolingian style at 2550 Webster Street. It is a masterpiece of the bricklayers' and stonemasons' arts, with beautifully carved decorations and fine fixtures. Nothing like it was being built in the city in 1897.

William Bourn, who was head of the Spring Valley Water Company, had made a fortune from his Empire Mine near Grass Valley. In 1897 he commissioned young Willis Polk to design this handsome town house in the Carolingian style at 2550 Webster Street. It is a masterpiece of the bricklayers' and stonemasons' arts, with beautifully carved decorations and fine fixtures. Nothing like it was being built in the city in 1897.

California Historical Preservation 2015 Award Winner -  2014   Plath & Company renovation

California Historical Preservation 2015 Award Winner - 2014 Plath & Company renovation

California Historical Preservation 2015 Award Winner -  2014   Plath & Company renovation

California Historical Preservation 2015 Award Winner - 2014 Plath & Company renovation

The Fortress on the Hill

Once, she partied with the Rolling Stones. Now, shunned by family and sued by friends, aging eccentric Arden Van Upp has retreated to her mansion.

Something about the narcissistic Bay Area compels affluent people to push the limits of eccentricity. They reinvent themselves, shun responsibility, and pursue a good time. The party started with the birth of the Barbary Coast, and continues on up to Willie Brown.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in stately Pacific Heights, where gargantuan homes are owned by scions of old-money California, people who park imported cars in the driveways and keep ketchup bottles on the table.

One especially creepy-looking mansion sits next to the Italian Consulate, at the top of Webster Street. It's something else altogether.

The only person living inside the 27-room Bourn Mansion is Arden Van Upp, along with her white Chinchilla Persian cats. She's lived there for 25 years, a small-town girl from Vallejo who came to San Francisco and reinvented herself as a wealthy landlord and society eccentric.

With its enormous second-floor ballroom, and two-story stained-glass windows, the Bourn Mansion was an ideal place for throwing wild parties in the '70s. Great meals, fine wines, good drugs, the promise of sex in the air. Celebrities showed up: the Rolling Stones, Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone, the Pointer Sisters. Porn films were shot there.

Arden Van Upp  on the right

Arden Van Upp on the right

But that's all over now. The four-story Bourn Mansion stands in extreme disrepair. An estimated $2 million of work is needed to meet earthquake safety codes, more than the building is worth. The roof leaks and the wallpaper peels. Recent visitors say everything stinks of cat urine. The back yard is knee-deep in weeds, and garbage is heaped in a compost pile. Raccoons poke around in the filth. The party's over.

Arden Van Upp no longer answers the phone. She peeks out a window to see who's knocking on the door, but never answers. It could be process servers after her for more building code violations, or because tenants at her rental properties have filed more lawsuits. One Christmas Eve, it was her own family, accompanied by police and firetrucks. They were searching for Van Upp's 89-year-old mother, whom Van Upp had spirited away and hidden from her siblings.

In a city that encourages people to live without regard for the rules, occasionally the walls of self-invention crumble and fall inward. In the case of Arden Van Upp, the high-society patina has grown tarnished. Former friends avoid her. Many have sued her. Her family refuses to speak to her, except through attorneys.

And to Van Upp, apparently, none of this is her fault.

With its good weather and healthy economy, the community of Vallejo, northeast of San Francisco, was an ideal place to raise a family in the 1930s. Sabin Rich coached sports in local schools, his wife, Doris, raised their four children. By World War II, the Riches were dabbling in real estate. The nearby shipyards of Mare Island Naval Station drew a constant stream of new tenants to the area. The Rich family purchased homes and moved them onto vacant lots, eventually building up a nice collection of properties in Vallejo and Benicia. Doris formed the Solano-Napa Rental Housing Association.

Early on, oldest daughter Arden distinguished herself from her brother and two sisters, developing a strong resistance to authority and a deep love for animals. According to her siblings, the family's pet sheep once got out of hand and knocked down her younger sister, Myrna, who was a toddler at the time. Arden's parents had the sheep taken away and slaughtered. Arden cried and cried over the loss of the sheep, Myrna says, but seemed little concerned with the well-being of her sister.

While beat-generation youth wore berets and played bongo drums, Arden Rich attended San Francisco State, studying to be a nurse, then got a job at the Napa State Hospital. She married a sailor from Mare Island named Van Upp, moved to Los Angeles, and had a child. But the couple soon divorced, and Arden Van Upp returned to Vallejo. Doris and Sabin Rich raised Arden's daughter, Tammy, in their home.

In the late 1960s, Van Upp moved to San Francisco and struck out on her own. She bought two rental properties -- an apartment building at 1019 Ashbury, and another at 2807 Steiner -- and worked as a public health nurse in the projects.

One day Van Upp's real estate broker, George Rowan, took her to see a property he thought might interest her -- a 27-room mansion in Pacific Heights built in 1896 by architect Willis Polk for William B. Bourn II. Owner of the Mother Lode's most productive gold mine, Bourn launched the utility company that became Pacific Gas & Electric. The early San Francisco millionaire had commissioned the town house on Webster Street as a grand place to throw parties. When Van Upp first saw the house, it was a steal, available for $185,000.

"The murals, gorgeous floors, the woodwork -- this is a true mansion," says Rowan, who is still a Bay Area real estate broker. "It is a real treasure. It could end up a gift to the city."

But somebody else was also eyeing the Bourn Mansion, a young Yale-educated doctor who lived in San Mateo. His name was Lawrence E. Badgley.

The charismatic, clever Badgley had a reputation in the rock 'n' roll scene. He cut a dashing figure as the "Dr. Feelgood" character who accompanied the Rolling Stones on their 1972 tour, which was documented by Robert Frank in the film Cocksucker Blues. The debauched road show of backstage booze, drugs, and teenage groupies was recounted in sleazy detail by Truman Capote for Rolling Stone magazine.

In July 1973, Van Upp and Badgley decided to become partners in purchasing the Bourn property. The two agreed that, in the event of a split, one would buy the other out. If they couldn't agree on who should get the house or a fair buyout price, an arbitrator would get to decide.

Van Upp was in her mid-30s and Badgley was 29 when the deal was cut. As soon as they took control of the property, the parties began. Van Upp moved in immediately, Badgley within a few months.

Like most parties in the 1970s, the Bourn Mansion soirees were pretty wild, remembered by some who attended for their fine wines and lavish meals. For years, neighbors talked about one party where a chorus line of women in ostrich feathers and low-cut outfits walked out of the mansion to greet elderly gentlemen in a waiting row of black limousines.

Rowan remembers getting a phone call one evening from Badgley asking if Rowan wanted to meet the Rolling Stones. Rowan arrived at the band's Fairmont Hotel suite, and soon members of the Stones and their entourage were piling into Rowan's antique Oldsmobile, heading off for a tour of the Bourn Mansion.

"Mick Jagger didn't come. He was occupied with a young woman," says Rowan. "Rod Stewart's wife liked it the best."

But the merriment masked a growing tension between the two party hosts. Badgley and Van Upp apparently were feuding. On New Year's Eve 1975, Badgley abruptly moved out of the mansion, claiming he was suffering great emotional and mental stress, and feared for his well-being.

The split launched a nasty legal struggle that would last for more than two decades.

The notorious "Feelgood File" has occupied the San Francisco courts for 23 years, one of the longest-running civil cases in the city's history. Badgley and Van Upp have each spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, declared bankruptcy, and burned through several sets of attorneys in their real estate partnership-turned-death match.

"It used to be more fun," says a court clerk, heaving a portion of Van Upp's file onto the counter. "It's kind of quieted down lately."

Contained within the bulging folders of the Feelgood File is the chronicle of a passionate and bilious battle. Badgley wanted Van Upp to sell her share of the mansion to him. Van Upp swore the house was rightfully hers, and that Badgley would never get it.

As the fight escalated, Badgley essentially argued that Van Upp was unfit to own the house. He claimed Van Upp was illegally renting out rooms and never shared any profits with him. Some rooms were rented without his consent, he claimed, while others were let in exchange for food stamps, maintenance work, or even flower arrangements for the house.

Badgley alleged that Van Upp threw parties where booze was sold illegally and teenagers smoked marijuana. In one particularly bizarre soiree described in court documents, hundreds of black people supposedly showed up for a Halloween party with their skin painted pink.

The house was also used as a set for porn films, which Badgley claimed could expose him to personal liability. Court documents dutifully list the 8mm loops in question, the 1977 Swedish Erotica titles Moving Parts, Tea Time, and The Swizzle Stick, which starred the prodigiously endowed John Holmes.

In the course of the suit, Badgley demanded a complete accounting of Van Upp's finances. She informed the court that she scribbled all her bookkeeping records on scraps of paper and threw them in boxes. She also admitted letting a maintenance crew have free rent, and giving the crew's boss the keys to her Porsche 928.

The very week Van Upp's accounting records were due in court, they were conveniently stolen from the trunk of her Mercedes, which was parked in front of her home. A former tenant later confessed he took the boxes and dumped them at a carwash. Van Upp claimed the thief was hired by Badgley. She also said she had been the victim of three other thefts -- coincidentally, all of financial documents.

Van Upp proved herself capable of attacking Badgley as well. After Badgley moved out of the house, she claimed she received 60 phone calls in 24 hours, the voice on the other end saying, "Die bitch, you're dead!"

Van Upp argued in court filings that Badgley paid people to move into the house and spy on her, and even rented an apartment across the street so that he could look directly into her bedroom window. She claimed that over the years, parties thrown by Badgley's friends resulted in a rape, a murder, and a guy passing out drunk and setting a bed afire. Badgley shouldn't be given the house, Van Upp said, because he never helped at all with regular payments or maintenance. In fact, Van Upp argued, Badgley actually owed her no less than $150,000.

Throughout the late 1970s and all of the 1980s, the mountain of legal paperwork grew. Court reporters typed up motions for continuances, arbitration conferences, motions granted and denied, declarations, complaints, and stipulations to interlocutory judgments.

Badgley's attorney, David Birenbaum, entertained bored court clerks with his expansive vocabulary, tossing out terms like subterfuge, poppycock, horsefeathers, bilge water, hokum, the tooth fairy, and "kaleidoscopic madness."

"The Bourn Mansion became a sort of hotel of convenience for a conglomeration of transient roomers and boarders, with Ms. Van Upp as the ruling matriarch," Birenbaum claimed. "The defendant has dipped deep into a sewer of desperation in concocting her story of stolen records as a diversionary gambit."

In between court appearances and filing appeals, Van Upp kept renting her apartments and throwing parties. A Bourn Mansion houseboy named Steve Dobbins, now a local theatrical producer, staged a version of Tom Stoppard's play The Real Inspector Hound inside the home.

Badgley, in turn, continued his medical practice, and opened a business called the Human Energy Church, which published books and sponsored seminars on homeopathic cures for AIDS.

On March 19, 1992, 19 years after the pair bought the Bourn Mansion, a judge ruled against Van Upp, and singled out her accounting methods as "a vague hodgepodge with no proof of accuracy or reliable evidence of linking to the property in question."

Badgley was awarded $590,557.50, plus $52,500 in attorney fees.
George Rowan and others familiar with the case say that Badgley ultimately did sell his interest in the building to Van Upp. But she was forced to declare bankruptcy, sell one of her properties, and refinance two others to pay off the bills -- her payments to Badgley, another $300,000 to her attorneys, and over $100,000 she owed to the city.

Badgley now lives in Eureka, Calif. Neither Van Upp nor Badgley responded to requests for interviews for this article. As of December 1998, Van Upp's bankruptcy case was still pending.

For Van Upp, the fight over the Bourn Mansion has been just one of many legal problems.

Dr. Robert Horan and Dr. Jan Lazlo sit in the neon-lit lounge of the Holiday Inn on Van Ness. When the waitress takes their order for coffee, they wink at her and ask that they not be disturbed, unless it's by beautiful women.

Handsome and stocky, the 48-year-old Horan wears a dark suit and tie. Lazlo is 72 and retired, dapper in a blue newsboy cap, blue sweater, and a necktie sporting 49ers logos. He walks with a cane from a recent mugging on BART.

The two men socialized with Arden Van Upp from the mid-1980s through 1994. They attended her dinner parties in Pacific Heights, and Horan lived in one of her apartments. They have a few words to say about her.

"I'd like to strangle her," says Lazlo in his Transylvanian accent.
"She needs a checkup from the neck up," says Horan.
When they met her in 1983, Van Upp looked to still be living in the 1960s, with long straight hair and a hippie dress. She was chatty, dropped names, and seemed to be some sort of society columnist. Upon meeting the doctors, she asked them how much money they made. Horan told her he was a chiropractor, his clients were the 49ers and the Oakland A's, and he owned racehorses. Lazlo described his youth in a Siberian camp, and his experiences training jungle cats for the Ringling Bros. circus. He worked as the physical therapist for the jockeys at Bay Meadows. Van Upp invited the two men to dinner parties at the Bourn Mansion.

Both remember the dinners were excellent, the wines, champagne, and guests carefully chosen. Lazlo would roll up his sleeve and show off the scar where a Bengal tiger had chomped on his arm. Later in the evenings, people would go joy riding in Sid Silverberg's Rolls-Royce.

"It was the San Francisco 'in' crowd," says Horan. "Through her parties, I met lots of ladies." Both nod and sip their coffee. Those were the days.

But as they got to know Van Upp better, they noticed traits that seemed peculiar for a woman who owned a few million dollars' worth of real estate. Van Upp didn't tell many people that she was a landlord. Much of her time seemed to be spent circulating at parties, sifting through people to find wealth. Nobody ever saw her drink or use drugs. She never had a boyfriend. She almost always took public transit. She never used credit cards, and never seemed to have any cash on hand. She attended free wine-and-cheese receptions almost every day. If someone took her to lunch, she would steal the sugar packets.

Horan turns the Holiday Inn's sugar caddy over in his hand, and mimes stuffing the packets into his coat pocket. "I've seen her do this before!" he laughs. "Like a squirrel, hoarding the nuts."

Van Upp talked about her lengthy court battle with Badgley. Horan watched her borrow $30,000 from her mother to pay attorneys, so they wouldn't pull out of the case.

In 1994 Van Upp rented Horan an apartment in her building on Steiner, a top-floor unit on the Pacific Heights hill, with a great view of the bay. One afternoon he walked out onto his balcony, leaned on the railing, and it collapsed. He fell 28 feet into the weeds. Horan filed a lawsuit against Van Upp, claiming two herniated discs, numbness, and blurred vision.

"If you looked at a videotape of it, it probably looks humorous, but I could have been killed," Horan says.

When his attorneys tried to notify Van Upp that she was being taken to court, they ran into a problem. She seemed to vanish off the face of the Earth.

Horan's lawyers mailed four letters to Van Upp's house, and left numerous phone messages. A private investigator tried at least 47 times to serve her with court papers at the mansion. Although it appeared she was living in the house, she never answered the door or responded to any of the letters or phone calls.

"She's very slippery," says Jessica Rudin, a member of Horan's legal team at the time. "I'd never had such a hard time serving somebody. I did everything I possibly could to locate the woman."

Van Upp didn't show for her appointed court date, so the court awarded Horan $104,629.50. Only then did Van Upp write the judge a letter, asking that the judgment be set aside. Van Upp claimed the award was no good because, as she typed in all caps, SHE HAD NEVER BEEN SERVED.

The court dismissed the case. Horan was furious. His attorneys resigned. In 1998, four years after the accident, Horan offered to settle with Van Upp for $5,000, and her attorneys accepted. Horan says he tried to call her after it was over, but she hung up on him.

The "in" crowd went their separate ways. Van Upp focused on her party referral service, where for $50 a year customers are faxed a weekly list of free or nearly free parties and events in the Bay Area. She still went to functions almost every night, but no longer hosted parties. Every time a visitor knocked, a curtain parted on the top floor, and someone looked out to see who it was.

"I don't hate Arden," Horan says. "It seems like she's not a happy person. It's almost like she's gone underground."

Caselli Street winds through the hills between Twin Peaks and the Castro District, lined with orderly rows of residential homes. Spoiling this view, as it has for years, is a broken-down, abandoned Victorian building. Until this year, 58 Caselli was another of Arden Van Upp's properties. It is her biggest real estate disaster.

The windows and front door are boarded up. The second floor's wall has been ripped away, and hoses, boards, and pipes end in midair. The back yard and basement are filled with crumbling bricks, a busted toilet, piles of wood and garbage. Amid all the rubbish, a clock ticks away on a nail, set to the current time.

"You see Safeway shopping carts in front," says a neighbor named Robert, whose mother lives next door. "Homeless people go in there when it's cold."

Robert says nobody has lived in the house for at least six years. He considered buying the property, but it was too tangled up in the courts. The neighbors have filed numerous complaints about the deserted structure, but as Robert says, "What good does that do?"

This building made its debut in court files in 1984, when the city and county first declared it a public nuisance. The legal owner, Tammy Van Upp, aka Tammy Manouchehri-Zadeh, was ordered to either repair or demolish it. But she never showed up in court. Sheriff Michael Hennessey issued a bench warrant for her arrest. Five years later, Tammy surfaced and told the court she had been living abroad, and thought her mother was taking care of the property. She then transferred the deed on the building to one "Dee Rich." City attorneys were confused. Who was Dee Rich?

Among her other quirky personality traits, Arden Van Upp is prone to sign different names to different pieces of paper. She is known to the courts, banks, and various government agencies as Arden Van Upp, Dee Rich, D. Rich, Marilyn Dee Rich, Arden Von Driska, Arden Dee Rich, Arden Dee Van Upp, Rosalind Rich (her sister's name), Myrna Rich (her other sister's name), Dee Van Upp, Arden Rich, Dee El Malik, Arden El Malik, Mrs. Sam Sloan, Mabel Warwick, and, in a nod to the other gender, Lester Barney.

Arden Van Upp assured the court she would fix the code violations, but no improvements were ever made. A later inspection found even more violations, including an illegal swimming pool and extra dwelling unit. Van Upp argued that she had tried to renovate the property, but then filed Chapter 11, which blocked further legal action against her. Her legal sidestepping did not sit well with the city. A demolition permit was issued for a second building at the rear of the property, and it was torn down.

Six more years went by, and after Van Upp again refused to appear in court, she was penalized $101,481.04. A letter arrived from Van Upp. She again moved to set the judgment aside because she was never served. Unbelievably, the case was dismissed.

In June of 1998, Carlos Castro of Ace Construction says he and a partner purchased 58 Caselli. They paid $430,000 to Van Upp's attorneys, who had assumed ownership. The new owners inspected their purchase. The roof was caved in. The interior was so gutted that bums and squatters were forced to sleep in the back yard. According to Castro, the building once operated as a male cabaret, back in the late '60s.

"In the basement were torture chambers," he says. "We found some chains down there. It's incredible. These big banner posters of what they were. It was so weird."

Castro and his partner plan to tear down the building and build three condos on the property. Their building plans are already on file with the city.

"It's 15 years of total neglect," he says. "She just let it go."

Wayne Jebian walks into his bedroom and points at what looks like a black metal box with a stovepipe running out of it. The rental listings for his apartment advertised a fireplace. This is it. When Jebian asked PG&E to inspect the "fireplace" he was told it was a gas heater, and it was a complete fire hazard.

"It's basically a TV stand," says Jebian.
Jebian and his fiancee, Deborah Davidson, have lived for a year at 272 Downey. New to the city, the young couple spent months looking for an apartment, a task made doubly hard because they had two dogs. Amazingly, they found a vacancy in the Upper Haight. Everyplace else had a waiting list, but, for some reason, people weren't elbowing each other to rent 272 Downey.

As soon as they moved in, the upstairs neighbors warned them about their landlord. Her name was Dee Rich.

Although the apartment hadn't been cleaned since the previous tenants left, Jebian and Davidson were charged a $300 cleaning deposit. The unit had no heat, the windows leaked, and the electricity went out frequently. If they used an electric baseboard heater, the bills ran up $300 extra per month. The walls and ceiling were peeling plaster and stained with water leaks. The bathroom faucets rattled, and the toilet wouldn't flush unless you held down the handle and counted out 11 seconds.

Jebian and Davidson told their landlord about the problems, but she always seemed to have excuses. They noticed she was kind of odd. When she first met them, she lied and said she was the rental agent, instead of the landlord. She acted distant, she mumbled, she didn't finish her sentences. She didn't get along with women much. She was extraordinarily cheap. She never trimmed any of the vegetation outside the building, except ivy. For some reason, she hated the ivy. She seemed to go through a lot of contractors and tenants. Using her key, she wandered into their apartment while one of them was taking a shower.

Jebian and Davidson spent $2,000 renovating the apartment and making it livable. The windows still leak, and it still has no heat. Because of a clause in the rental contract, they will never be reimbursed.

The couple filed for reduction in their rent with the Rent Board, citing a decrease in services, and their hearing is scheduled for Jan. 4. They have given up on San Francisco, and plan to move back east and get married, but now they don't have rental references or credit. As this article goes to press, Van Upp has served them with an eviction notice.

"We thought that we could live with her," says Jebian. "We would pay her on time, and she would leave us alone. We ended up dealing with Dee."

Dealing with Dee Rich, aka Arden Van Upp, has been a way of life for tenants of 272 Downey for many years.

In 1983 Ann Moore and John Hardesty moved into 272 Downey. In addition to the refuse water pouring onto their window from an upstairs washing machine, and the brown water coming out of their faucets, they noticed problems that would mirror many of Jebian and Davidson's complaints 14 years later: an illegal parking space, no heat, windows that didn't open, intermittent electricity, mice and roaches, and a landlady who entered their apartment without notice or permission.

Actions filed by the city and county against Van Upp didn't seem to help, and neither did the Rent Board, so in 1986 Moore and Hardesty stopped paying rent for eight months, hoping Van Upp would correct the conditions. She responded by serving to evict them, claiming they never provided her with keys to their apartment.

Moore and Hardesty took her to court. She claimed she had never been served, but this time the judge didn't buy it. Moore and Hardesty settled for $60,000 from Van Upp, and the case was dismissed, six years later.

A maintenance man who lived in the building recalls another incident from 1997. Two girls were living in the same apartment, 272 Downey. One day their toilet plugged up, sending raw sewage out into the driveway. Van Upp refused to pay for a Roto-Rooter call.

"There's turds floating in the driveway," the maintenance man told her. She still refused to pay any bills. The tenants ended up footing the bill.

"She's your classic, basic slumlord," says the maintenance man, who begs anonymity. "She likes to think of herself as not normal. It gives her license to be eccentric, to be inconsiderate, uncaring, and complain about how the world is treating her. She thinks she's eccentric, but it's not eccentric. They have some nobility, some flair of some kind. She's at the other end, the butt end."

Although many other court cases remain on file against Van Upp, real estate broker George Rowan, her friend for 30 years, scoffs at the complaints.

"The lady's one of the most honorable people I've dealt in business with," Rowan says. "She keeps everything in nice shape. The woman has been maligned. I wouldn't be surprised when you visited them, if the tenants dumped garbage everywhere. A tenant never sees a mouse, it's always a rat."

Rats and garbage aside, Van Upp's biggest and most emotional legal battle isn't with the city, her tenants, or her business partners. Her toughest adversaries are people she's known nearly 60 years -- her own family.

On Christmas Eve 1994, a commotion was in progress at 2550 Webster. Police and sheriff's patrol cars were parked outside. A hook-and-ladder truck from the Fire Department had extended its ladder to an upper-story window of the Bourn Mansion. The courts were once again trying to serve Arden Van Upp. This time, she was accused of hiding her 89-year-old mother.

When the front door was opened, and Van Upp was approached by a process server, she claimed she was her sister Myrna. Police officers and firemen were wandering about the mansion, gawking at the murals and antiques, and admiring the vintage Chevy Camaro in the garage, with the ceiling caved in on it.

"It was like a Mack Sennett comedy," Neel Rich says. "It's unbelievable."
Van Upp was fighting her brother and sister over the estate and medical care of their mother, Doris. Three weeks earlier, Arden had gotten fed up with the process, put Doris in a car, and driven her to San Francisco. On that Christmas Eve, Arden's siblings were trying to find out if Doris was being kept at the Bourn Mansion.

Relations between the Rich siblings first deteriorated when Neel, a retired engineer and Arden's older brother, started looking into the specifics of his mother's estate. Doris owned the family's 14 rental units in Vallejo and Benicia, worth at least $1.5 million, and she indicated she wanted to readjust her will. Neel, Myrna, and Arden visited an attorney, to begin assessing the family legacy. They say they came upon an ugly realization. The way Arden was able to buy San Francisco real estate on a public nurse's salary, pay her many sets of attorneys, and live the life to which she was accustomed was by using her mother's money. The Riches say Arden took almost $700,000.

"My sister would come over with blank checkbooks, and my mother would sign them all," explains Myrna. "That happened several times. My sister was an R.N. She knew that my mother was having trouble remembering. I don't understand. We weren't raised to be dishonest with money."

Myrna asked her mother why she loaned Arden so much money.
"I felt sorry for her," Doris answered. "It's because nobody likes her."
Neel and Myrna quickly started the long process of sorting out all their mother's finances. But Christmas 1994 was a tough one. Doris Rich was still missing.

A court order was issued for Arden Van Upp to relinquish her mother. The following month, Solano County court investigator Beth Rhea knocked on the door of 2550 Webster. Arden was to meet her there and release Doris. There was no sign of either Arden or Mrs. Rich, but Van Upp's daughter Tammy let Rhea into the building.

Rhea noticed immediately that the first floor was very dark and cold. Extension cords were running everywhere. She went up the stairs to the upper-story room where Doris had apparently been staying the past several weeks. In the room was a simple bed, a chair, a stinky cat box, and newspapers on the floor.

"There was a leftover bowl of food from supper the night before," Rhea remembers. "And the cat box. I mean, I have cats too, but this was gross. Undergarments stained with feces, hanging on the fire grate. There was no way to get up and down. People had to bring her food up the stairs. It was not a real safe place for her."

Arden Van Upp still refused to divulge the whereabouts of her mother, so on Jan. 10 she was arrested and deposited in the Solano County Jail. She was released three days later, when Doris Rich was discovered in an Alameda hospital.

Both Neel and Myrna Rich now say the furor over their mother has quieted down. Doris Rich is receiving medical care. Her estate is now in order. Arden is allowed to visit her. But everybody knows this is only a break in the action.

"After she passes away, it's gonna be another big mess," says Myrna.
"Oh, we go to court all the time!" Neel says cheerfully.
Badgley and Van Upp have each spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, declared bankruptcy, and burned through several sets of attorneys in their real estate partnership-turned-death match.

Van Upp didn't tell many people that she was a landlord. Much of her time seemed to be spent circulating at parties, sifting through people to find wealth. She never used credit cards, and never seemed to have any cash on hand. If someone took her to lunch, she would steal the sugar packets.

"She's your classic, basic slumlord," says the maintenance man. "She likes to think of herself as not normal. It gives her license to be eccentric, to be inconsiderate, uncaring, and complain about how the world is treating her."

"She keeps everything in nice shape," Rowan says. "The woman has been maligned. I wouldn't be surprised when you visited them, if the tenants dumped garbage everywhere.

HOUSE ON TELEGRAPH HILL

1951 Murder Mystery filmed in San Francisco

As Karin, Victoria finds herself living in a mansion on San Francisco's Telegraph Hill. She's now married, pretending to be the mother to a son, and the next in line to the Dernakova fortune. Things at first appear to go well for Victoria but then strange things begin to take place and Victoria doesn't know what to make of them.

1951  Movie Poster

1951 Movie Poster

This is an overall view of the house, seen early in the movie.   But this is a painting!   It's geographically consistent with the Julius' Castle location, even down to the glimpse of Alcatraz Island in the Bay.

This is an overall view of the house, seen early in the movie.  But this is a painting!  It's geographically consistent with the Julius' Castle location, even down to the glimpse of Alcatraz Island in the Bay.

The house that Victoria now claims as her own was a grand Victorian.  All of the interiors were built and filmed on a 20th Century Fox studio set but the exteriors were created by building a facade around a real building - the Julius' Castle restaurant on Telegraph Hill.

Victoria and Chris in front of the convincing  Victorian facade .

Victoria and Chris in front of the convincing Victorian facade.

Here's a photo still of  Julius Castle  taken while 'The House' facade was being set up.

Here's a photo still of Julius Castle taken while 'The House' facade was being set up.

J ulius' Castle today , little changed, at the north end of the  Montgomery Street  cul-de-sac 150 feet below  Coit Tower .  Sadly, the restaurant closed down in 2008 after 84 years of operation.

Julius' Castle today, little changed, at the north end of the Montgomery Street cul-de-sac 150 feet below Coit Tower.  Sadly, the restaurant closed down in 2008 after 84 years of operation.

301 Union Street  on the corner of  Montgomery , a two block walk from  Victoria's house . 

301 Union Street on the corner of Montgomery, a two block walk from Victoria's house

Union Street  is seen dipping down into  North Beach  before climbing west to the top of  Russian Hill

Union Street is seen dipping down into North Beach before climbing west to the top of Russian Hill

Victoria drives home, crossing  Union  and heading down  Montgomery .

Victoria drives home, crossing Union and heading down Montgomery.

other than the trees blocking the view of the distant bay, nothing has changed that much.

other than the trees blocking the view of the distant bay, nothing has changed that much.

here's how this corner looked  circa 1870 .  The house on the corner is the same one, with the original brick walls.  Behind it is  Telegraph Hill  with a building housing a telescope on the peak. the corner building has been plastered over (the windows and doors still match) and  Coit Tower  has ruled the hill since 1933.

here's how this corner looked circa 1870.  The house on the corner is the same one, with the original brick walls.  Behind it is Telegraph Hill with a building housing a telescope on the peak. the corner building has been plastered over (the windows and doors still match) and Coit Tower has ruled the hill since 1933.

Fortuitously Victoria lands in a pile of sand and for the second time in the movie narrowly escapes injury.  Trivia but tragic -  the actor who comes to her aid (  Charles Wagonheim  , kneeling below), was murdered years later in his Hollywood apartment in 1979 when he was 83.

Fortuitously Victoria lands in a pile of sand and for the second time in the movie narrowly escapes injury.  Trivia but tragic -  the actor who comes to her aid (Charles Wagonheim, kneeling below), was murdered years later in his Hollywood apartment in 1979 when he was 83.

1227 Montgomery , alongside  Montague Place , now has an added garage with a patio built over it.

1227 Montgomery, alongside Montague Place, now has an added garage with a patio built over it.

LAW AND ORDER

San Francisco April 14, 1934.

This east side view, looking south, of Montgomery Street shows several commercial buildings including Conradi Ltd Mt. Wines, Washington Broom Company, Italy Restaurant and a "walk up" where you could board for $1 a day. The Gold Rush-era building seen housing the Chicago Specialty Co. in more recent years became the law offices of flamboyant San Francisco attorney Melvin Belli.  Just to the right, the E. Martinoni building became home to the exclusive club Villa Taverna in 1959. This Barbary Coast block of yore is now part of the Jackson Square Historic District. The next corner? The famous landmark: Transamerica Pyramid.

Photo Credit: Shorpy

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A LITTLE SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY

The Blue Fox in the 1960's.

In its heyday, the restaurant attracted celebrities such as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe. Joan Crawford stowed her own case of vodka there!

Located at 659 Merchant Street between Kearny and Montgomery, The Blue Fox closed it's doors in 1993 only to be reopened by the landmark restaurant Alfred's Steakhouse in 1997.  As time goes by, this location will be shuttered again when Alfred's serves its last steak on December 31st.