San Francisco's Contender for Oldest Home Hits Market for $3.8M

With its colorful cast of owners and near-miraculous longevity, the house on 31 Alta St. may be the oldest -- and at least the most interesting -- home in all of San Francisco. And if the price is right -- the home just went on the market -- you can add your name to a list of bootleggers and seafarers who once called it home.

Known as "The Captain's Quarters" in honor of its builder and first owner, Capt. Andrews, the four-story, three-bedroom, two-bath home was built in 1852 on the slope of Telegraph Hill in central San Francisco. The good captain must have had exquisite taste, as the style and spirit of the home has remained virtually unchanged, in spite of the Great Earthquake of 1906 and a later tenant who transformed the first floor of the home into a Prohibition-era speakeasy.

And thanks to the captain's spacious and accommodating floor plan, the building has withstood its fair share of trauma, including a police break-in during its speakeasy days, and even the bygone horrors of Technicolor appliances. Some, however, claim that another home -- the Abner Phelps House at 1111 Oak St., believed to have been erected in 1850 -- is San Francisco's oldest.
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Some of the Alta Street home's many features include an original wood-burning fireplace, restored colonnaded balconies, custom built-in bookshelves, garden access from every floor and, of course, spectacular views of San Francisco Bay.

And for those attracted by the home's history, listings agent Amanda Sharp of the Paragon Real Estate Group says that the next homeowner can certainly submit the home for historic-landmark consideration.

The property currently is priced at $3.8 million, though you may have some trouble finding comparable properties in the neighborhood's hodgepodge of 1960s modernist apartment buildings and late 19th-century houses.

The closest comparable home to have sold in the area, according to Sharp, was a 1920 single-family home across the way, which sold for $4.5 million.

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