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.