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See The Painted Ladies in SF

A row of Victorian era houses in San Francisco known as the Painted Ladies

Whether you live in apartments for rent in downtown San Francisco or another place of abode in this great city, you’ve undoubtedly heard talk about the Painted Ladies. But you may not know the whole story regarding this important part of the history of San Francisco.

Believe it or not, many people have a tendency to walk through life and barely notice their surroundings. This is hard to do in San Francisco as far as the Painted Ladies are concerned, but it’s certainly possible. So today we’re going to do our best to share information about this important history with you today.

When you’re through reading this, we hope you have a full understanding and working knowledge of the painted ladies. We’d like to fill you in on the reason they exist, the history behind them, and other pertinent information.

So if this sounds even remotely interesting and educational, please stick with us to learn more about this fascinating San Francisco phenomenon. Bear with us to find out more of what it’s all about.

The History of the Painted Ladies

The painted ladies are actually Victorian and Edwardian houses and buildings that were repainted during the 1960s using three or more colors. These colors were there to enhance and embellish the architectural details of these properties. Specifically, they really wanted these properties to stand out and look absolutely amazing in this wonderful city.

At this time, these homes were not known as the painted ladies. It wasn’t until 1978, when the book published by Michael Larson and Elizabeth Pomada that the name for these properties finally stuck. The name of the 1978 book is Painted Ladies: San Francisco’s Resplendent Victorians.

It was an interesting time in the history of San Francisco because Victorian houses were not predominantly painted this way. There was no historical precedent for deciding to paint these homes multiple colors, and when they finally did repaint these properties, other cities all across America started to adopt this idea.

At this time, you can currently find different painted ladies in Baltimore, Maryland, Lafayette Square in St. Louis, New Orleans, Columbia Tusculum in Cincinnati, Springfield Massachusetts, Cape May New Jersey, and Toledo Ohio.

Obviously the trend definitely caught on all across the United States. But the painted ladies were a San Francisco original from the 1960s. So this great city has the distinct honor of being the original and the first of its kind.

More Information about the Painted Ladies in San Francisco

San Francisco really had a penchant for Edwardian and Victorian style houses because they built roughly 48,000 of them between 1849 in 1915. When Queen Victoria finally passed away in 1901, that’s when they started building Edwardian homes.

When these homes were first built, they were often painted using bright colors. The fashionable colors were very loud at the time, and they typically picked choices including orange, red, yellow, blue, and chocolate. So the color schemes were definitely bright, different than what people were used to, and very attractive in their own way.

Things changed once World War I and World War II came into the picture. Plenty of these homes were repainted during this time, and once they were painted, they were done with battleship gray, because this Navy paint was available in surplus so it was easy to acquire, which is the reason why so many of the future painted ladies look very drab and dull because of their fresh coat of gray paint.

At the same time, roughly 16,000 of these Victorian homes were destroyed and completely demolished. They were taken down because the raw materials were needed elsewhere. So, many of the homes in the Victorian and Edwardian style – about one third of them – disappeared because of the war effort and the need for those particular materials.

But many years later in 1963, a cultural renaissance came about and the beautiful painted ladies were reborn once again.

The Artistic Style of the Painted Ladies in San Francisco

Whether you realize it or not, an artist in San Francisco named Butch Kardum is the man responsible for the beginning of the Painted Ladies craze in 1963. In fact, he is the one that chose the intense greens and blues to paint the exterior of these Victorian houses. In truth, he actually started off with his own house, although some of the neighbors were critical of the bright colors. On the other hand, there were many neighbors that really enjoyed his color scheme and design, so they started to copy what he did on their own houses.

As you can imagine, Kardum and his design was soon a big hit, and he became a color designer along with other artists including Jason Wonders, Bob Buckter, and Tony Canaletich. They completely transformed the neighborhood and rid these beautiful homes of their dull and gray ugly paint and began painting dozens of these houses with their bright, beautiful colors. Before long, entire streets in the neighborhood had houses painted with multiple bright colors. And in the 1970s, also known as the colorist movement, entire neighborhoods and streets were completely transformed.

Have you ever seen the opening sequence for the TV show Full House or its recent spinoff Fuller House? If so, pay close attention to the homes in the opening credits. This is known as Postcard Row, and it’s one of the most famous examples of the painted ladies.

Appreciate the Beauty of the Painted Ladies Living in Apartments for Rent in Downtown San Francisco

The Towers at Rincon are an extra special place to live in San Francisco because of their luxury and their wonderful amenities. According to their website, “Our studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom luxury apartments for rent in downtown San Francisco are designed for the ultimate in excellence and comfort.
Due to the unique shape of The Towers of Rincon, each apartment has a layout and view unlike any other, including vistas of the North Bay, Financial District, Bay Bridge, Ferry Tower or South of Market.”