Charles Theodor Pfarrer House

This Colonial Revival residence has a fascinating mixture of decorative motifs. While the leaves of the second-floor string course molding have a free-flowing Art Nouveau feeling, the lower string course’s wave moulding and the shouldered window surround are Georgian. At the roof line, the dentil, egg-and-dart, and acanthus consoles trio are Classical. An Eastern influence can be seen in the onion finials atop the pilasters flanking the entry.

The house was built in 1911 for Charles Theodor Pfarrer, a Bank of California employee. The builder from nearby Church Street, Charles Koenig, estimated the construction cost at $7,000. Koenig was an active contractor from the early 1890s into the 1930s. He had started with his brother William, later an architect. Charles Koenig was listed as an architect in 1896 and doubtless designed this house.

When Pfarrer purchased the vacant lot in 1890, the parcel included the handsome three-flat building at 3512-3516 21st Street. Before 1911, various Pfarrer family members lived in one of the flats. There once was also a small building, now long gone, in the yard between the houses. The Pfarrer family included Alexander and Benedict, listed variously as architect, hotel proprietor, carpenter, contractor, and builder of various Victorian houses, two on the 1000 block of Noe. The family business was discontinued around 1900.

Charles Pfarrer moved into the new corner house with his wife, their two young children, and his wife’s sister. He had come from Switzerland in 1880 and became a citizen in 1888. His wife was born in California of German parents. They kept the house and the three-flat until 1921, when the lot was split and the buildings were sold separately.

The styles inside continue to combine, harmoniously. The dark, heavy board-and-batten wainscot and the straight, hard staircase spindles reflect the Arts and Crafts movement. They contrast with the Ionic columns between the two parlors.