Josue House

This delightful residence was built in 1891 for Arthur Josue for the sum of $2,553.

It was designed by architect Charles K. Kirby, Jr., in the Queen Anne style. Its most prominent feature is an unusual gazebo-like tower with an open-porch structure that sits over a bay window; the turret projects upwards and to the right of the entry portico with a slightly curved profile to its conical witches cap roof. One of the first buildings situated on this block, it originally presented itself as a small and graceful country home rather than as a grand city residence.

The junior Kirby was born in Boston in 1871, moving with his family to San Francisco in 1878. He trained with his father C.K. Kirby, Sr., and then struck out on his own professionally by 1883. Unfortunately he designed very few buildings in the City before moving to Fresno in the early 1900s; he retired in 1924 and passed away in 1936.

Owner Arthur Josue was born of German parents in Costa Rica in 1862. He arrived in the United States in 1881, became a liquor dealer, and was the proprietor of Granger’s Saloon at 30 California Street by the time that this residence was constructed. He married Tillie in 1884 and resided in the house with their two daughters and one son, according to the United States Census records of 1900.

The restrained scale of the modest exterior belies a much larger home within—now divided into a primary single family home, plus two lower units—and each opens onto private decks and onto the lush garden area. The main level consists of a formal entry foyer, a reconfigured open-plan living room with a wood burning fireplace and an adjacent dining room that reveals and faces towards panoramic downtown views. The master bedroom on the upper floor also features a gracious fireplace and a modernized bathroom with a soaking tub and a sky-lit shower.

The present appearance of 253 Collingwood Street is more Colonial Revival than Queen Anne. Originally it may not have had the shingled roof surface; in fact, since many recent San Francisco real estate sales records erroneously list its date of construction as 1906, this may point to the time when such changes were made on this home.

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