Hobart, Lewis Parsons
Entry Author: David
Parsons Hobart was born in St. Louis, Missouri on January
14, 1873. After graduating from preparatory schools in the
East, he attended U.C. Berkeley for a year. While there he
was influenced by Bernard
Maybeck (as were many other young students, such as Julia
Morgan and Arthur
Brown, Jr.), participating in drawing classes that Maybeck
taught in his home. Hobart left Berkeley to study architecture
for two years at the American Academy in Rome and followed
that by three years of further architectural training at the
École des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1901 to 1903.
Back in the United States, Hobart first worked in New York
for two years, and then returned to the Bay Area in 1906,
to participate in the rebuilding of the City after the earthquake
and fire. He obtained his State Architectural license in October
1906 (number B429). He opened his own office in the A. Page
Brown-designed Crocker Building (600 Market at Post). His
classical training and knowledge of steel-frame construction
stood him in good stead and he obtained commissions for several
downtown office buildings from the Crocker Estate and other
property owners. Surviving buildings of his from 1908 include
the Postal Telegraph Building at 22 Battery, the Jewelers
Building at 150 Post, the Commercial Building at 825-33 Market,
and the White Investment Co. Building at 280 Battery.
Hobart is best known in San Francisco for his work implementing
the design of Grace Episcopal Cathedral on Nob Hill. In 1903
Hobart had married socialite Mabel Reed Deming, a cousin of
William H. Crocker who donated the site for the Cathedral.
Inspired by 13th-century French Gothic architecture, the plans
were drawn and the cornerstone laid in 1910, although the
Cathedral was not considered finished until 1964. Hobart's
four-story Cathedral House at 1051 Taylor was completed in
1912 (but recently demolished) and Hobart added the Diocesan
House at 1055 Taylor in 1932.
Hobart became famous for country estates in Hillsborough,
such as Richard M. Tobin's at 360 Poett Road (1907), Joseph
D. Grant's Strawberry Hill at the end of Redington
Road (1910), William H. Crocker's New Place, now the
Burlingame Country Club (1911), George T. Cameron's Rosecourt
at 815 Eucalyptus Avenue (1913), and George Newhall, Sr's
La Dolphine at 1760 Manor Drive (1914).
In San Francisco an early example of a French-influenced residence
can be found at 20 Presidio Terrace, designed by Hobart in
1909. His second design there, 40 Presidio Terrace, followed
10 years later. On Russian Hill, Hobart's 1050 Green built
in 1913 has a distinctive Parisian look, set back from the
street with a formal garden in front. Initially four full-floor
view apartments, the building was converted to condominium
ownership in 1987. On Nob Hill, in addition to Grace Cathedral,
he was responsible for 1055 California (1920, 15 spacious
half-floor apartments averaging 2500 sq.ft. each).
Some of Hobart's contributions to Pacific Heights architecture
are 2970 Broadway, on the Gold Coast of Broadway, designed
in 1916 for attorney Sidney M. Ehrman, 2421 Broadway designed
in 1920, 2516 Pacific designed in 1921, and 2108 Washington,
a house moved to that site in 1921 and completely remodeled
in 1925 for the Tobin family.
At 2516 Pacific, Hobart's clients were Louis and Lydia Monteagle.
Louis Finlay Monteagle was a Scot, born in 1855, who arrived
in San Francisco in 1879. He was an insurance broker, a director
of the Spring Valley Water Company, on the Board of Governors
of the San Francisco Symphony and active in the Episcopal
Church. Lydia Paige Monteagle had inherited a fortune from
her parents Timothy and Mary Paige and she contributed significantly
to the cost of building Grace Cathedral.
The original house at 2516 Pacific had been designed by Percy
& Hamilton in 1881 on a 53 ft. by 127 ft. lot. The
Monteagles bought it in 1894. With a growing family and in
need of a larger house, in June 1920 they had the opportunity
to buy the adjoining 32 ft. wide lot to the east, stretching
from Pacific to Broadway, from the estate of Virginia Strassburger.
First they commissioned Lewis Hobart to design a house above
a garage on the northern half of the lot, now 2421 Broadway,
and then they embarked upon the major project of rebuilding
2516 Pacific across the entire 85 ft. Pacific Avenue frontage.
The finished result is a somewhat restrained Tudor Revival
composition with a brick exterior. A hipped roof comes down
to a thin cornice which wraps around the bay window, which
at four bays in width is much wider than would be found on
a Tudor-era house in England. Note the ogee arches on the
second level of the four bay windows, matching the three ogee
arches on the windows of the first level of the eastern side.
The arched entry has layered moldings and the columns themselves
are layered. With its brick exterior, the house imparts a
feeling of massiveness, of being rooted to the earth.
After Louis Monteagle died in 1940, the property was left
to his sons Paige and Kenneth Monteagle. Paige bought out
Kenneth's interest and lived there with his wife Louise until
they sold the house in 1948 to Samuel and Celeste Stewart.
The Stewart's sold the house in 1954 to the present owners,
the British Government.
At first the house was used as both Consulate Offices and
the Consul-General's Residence, but the British Consulate
business functions were moved downtown by 1962 and the property
has been used primarily as a residence ever since, with a
secondary role in official entertaining. Queen Elizabeth II
attended receptions there when she visited San Francisco in
1983, although she stayed at the St. Francis Hotel at that
time, but other Royal visitors have had occasion to stay in
the house on private visits to San Francisco over the last
50 years. The guest bedroom suite has direct access to a spacious
terrace with a lovely view of the Bay and the Golden Gate
The Hobart's knew that view well for themselves as they had
bought the Edgar Mathews-designed
house at 2512 Pacific in 1920. Lewis continued to live there
after his wife Mabel died in 1945, finally selling it in 1947.
Other distinctive San Francisco designs by Hobart include
the original California Academy of Sciences buildings in Golden
Gate Park (1915-31), the Alexander Building (155 Montgomery,
1921), the O'Connor Moffatt store (now Macy's, 101 Stockton,
1928, with an addition along the O'Farrell Street side also
by Hobart in 1948), the Bohemian Club (624 Taylor, 1930),
the Mills Tower (added to 220 Montgomery, 1931), and the Union
Oil Co. Building (425 First Street, 1941).
In 1932 Hobart became the first President of the San Francisco
Arts Commission, and later was appointed to the Board of Architects
for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition held on
Treasure Island, for which he also designed the Court of Flowers
and the Court of Reflections. He died on October 19, 1954
and his funeral was held at Grace Cathedral.
For an abbreviated list of Lewis
P. Hobart's architectural work click here.
Entry taken from the website of David Parry at www.classicSFproperties.com
and is used by permission. Unauthorized use of this copyrighted
material is strictly forbidden without permission from the