2799 Pacific Avenue: Built 1894
Wanting to move from his home on Pine Street near Van Ness Avenue, Dr. C. N. Ellinwood commissioned architect Eugene Freeman Smith to design this home, first known as 2739 Pacific Avenue and later changed to 2799 Pacific Avenue, a number believed to be better suited for a corner home. It is among the earliest homes built on the crest of Pacific Heights after the extension of transit lines. This academically correct Colonial Revival was under construction from 1893 to 1894 and then the doctor and his wife, Elizabeth moved in and raised their four children.
The interior, with its formally arranged rooms, displays a very high quality of extant decoration. Aside from its 106 windows and 14 fireplaces, the building features a spectacular interior dome containing approximately 8,000 pieces of stained glass.
The house is ripe with multi-generational drama. In 1850, Divisadero was the dividing line between the City and the Presidio, and the Ellinswood House was one of the earliest homes located right at the boundary. Dr. Ellinswood was one of the officers in the U.S. Public Health Service and founder of the Marine Hospital of the Presidio. In 1902 he became the president of Cooper Medical College, which would eventually become Stanford Medical Hospital. By 1907, he was forcibly removed from the presidency following a financial management controversy over funneling funds earmarked for the now famous Lane Medical Library.
His descendants continued to own 2799 Pacific for over 100 years, including a bizarre 50-year stint from 1928-1978 when the house sat vacant and was rumored to have been used by the CIA to spy on the nearby Russian consulate. A later descendant, Alice Ellinwood, lived in the house alone and bankrupted herself in an attempt to restore it.
The home was completely reborn in 2000 by architect Lewis Butler and designer Paul Wiseman in a project that spanned 3 years and cost more than 10 million dollars. This renovation added a swimming pool, fitness center, caretaker's apartment and a spa with a 75' lap pool. By 2009, the mega mansion went into foreclosure, with a mortgage balance due of $11,363,000 and an unmet minimum bid of $10,000,000. Shockingly, no one showed up with cash in hand, so the bank had to forcibly kick out the defaulting owners in 2011.
Now..... this stately home has been lovingly cared for since 2012. If you drive by 2799 Pacific during Halloween or Christmas, you will be in for a wonderful treat. These famous homeowners know how to decorate for the holidays!