Clark-McConnell House

Designed by architect John J. Clark and built by local contractor John A. McConnell, this lovely 1892 Queen Anne row house rests between two steep blocks that undulate up and down from Castro Street. This location became more accessible when the Market Street Cable Railway opened its line running on Castro Street from Market to 26th Street through Eureka and Noe Valleys. Today the house is coveted both for its history and panoramic downtown views.

It was builder-contractor McConnell who signed for the water connection on September 16, 1892, establishing Number 4421 as one of the first houses built on the block. He had been active in San Francisco as a carpenter and builder since 1883 and was responsible for a number of other houses in Eureka Valley, including the neighboring, slightly later 4417 20th Street, 4324 20th Street, and probably also 4328 20th Street, as well as 243 Hartford, and several other homes in the first block of Eureka. During this time McConnell himself was also a denizen of the Valley, residing on various adjacent streets.

This house presents several of the signature details that McConnell used on his Queen Anne style houses. The façade is graced by spindle work above a lovely elliptical entry—with slanted bay windows, bands of shingle work, and a gabled window to illuminate the full attic.

It is not known who may have been the original owners, but from 1899 to 1905, Irish immigrant Peter Flood lived in the house with his wife Annie and their seven young children. Flood worked as a bartender; after the Quake of 1906, he opened his own bar on Eddy Street. It was named the Oyster Loaf Café and Grill, for that delicious Victorian concoction which promised to mend wounded hearts—composed of toasted French bread spread with melted butter, cream, garlic, a touch of Worcestershire, salt, pepper, and plenty of oysters. But the Flood family moved just as this business was being established.

Beginning in 1907, the house was occupied by renters for the next two decades. Residents included Canadian Catherine McArron, the widow of a carriage maker, who took in a variety of boarders—from a bill collector to a butcher—while living here along with her children, son Drummond and daughters Florence and Stephanie.

Peter Flood sold the house in 1908 to salesman David J. Gorman and wife Margaret, but this couple never lived in the house, apparently just retaining it as an investment. Within a few years, the house again changed hands several times. Between 1911 and 1917, Australian-born Alfred T. Fawke and his wife Grace rented the home with their six children, including Alfred Jr., who, like his father, was a plasterer. Some of the beautiful plaster motifs on the ceiling of the front parlor may well have been the Fawke’s own handiwork.

It wasn’t until 1926 that the ownership and occupancy eventually settled down. William F. and Florence Hansen bought out the interests of previous owners. It may well have been during the Hansens’ residency that the back porch was enclosed and an inside bathroom added. The house remained in that family until son Frederick sold it in the 1970s during the early years of the Eureka Valley revival.

House history research and text by Eileen Keremitsis. Printed program writing and editing by Tamara Hill. Edited for the web by Jason Allen-Rouman