Hallsted House

Last month I got a call from Kent Hallsted about a very interesting project. For the last 30 years he has been working on building, decorating, and furnishing a 1/12 scale replica of a Victorian row house (don’t call it a doll house. He chose the floor plan out of a book about San Francisco Victorians called “A Gift To The Street” (which I happen to have a copy of). Later a friend found a house on Divisadero that he used to copy for the facade.

Ken’s project started out when he was working at San Francisco Victoriana, a shop that produces vintage millwork. (They happen to be where I’ve bought the moldings we have used to restore our house. They do really great work by the way.) Ken noticed how much wood they ended up throwing away after cutting off unneeded parts, and he decided to put them to use.

30 years later, Ken is now retired, and he’s living in Eureka. His model Victorian sits on a custom Eastlake styled cabinet that he also made. The detail of his creation is just amazing, down to tiny details like the gas lamps aren’t as bright as the electric ones! He still has some more rooms to finish, but as he explained to me, years ago he went through a divorce, and his wife got the furniture, and he got the house. He has since remarried, and his new wife Marcy seems supportive of his time demanding hobby.

I used Google’s street view to locate the house, and since Lori and I passed through San Francisco on our way back from spending Thanksgiving in San Jose with the family, we decided to stop by the house. It’s at 217 & 219 Divisadero if you ever want to take a look. Comparing it to the photos that Kent took in the 80s, the house hasn’t changed much except the tree has grown up so much it’s hard to get a good photo of the front anymore. The big surprise is that the house next door, which in the original photograph shows it with a remuddled exterior, is not a good match for its neighbor.