Real Estate Report: The Hermitage on Russian Hill

There are only so many places to live on San Francisco's Russian Hill. Its buildings are a chronicle of the city's culture and history, undamaged by the 1906 fire, later threatened with destruction by hi-rise buildings in the 1960's and now preserved. The Hermitage was the last project built on the historic hill, in 1986, and there's a penthouse on the market.

The Basics: A two-bedroom, two-bath plus a half-bath penthouse, with a study, two fireplaces, two-car parking and a doorman. Asking $3,725,000 with HOA dues "currently" at $2625 a month.

Not So Basic: It's at the top of Russian Hill. The Hermitage is a luxury building with only seven units, all different in plan but similar in details- great views, high ceilings, big rooms, simple but expensive millwork. The master bedrooms and baths are private; this one has a fireplace. Kitchens from the '80s can look tired, but this one's an exception, with classic Heath tiles that still look great. Plus it's got a view through the dining room past Coit Tower all the way to Mount Diablo. Pantries, laundry rooms, and lots of closets round things out. A larger unit sold in May 2010 for $4,800,000.

EHDD is now a global firm with huge projects, but one of its founders, Joseph Esherick, started out designing houses and teaching architecture at Berkeley, went on to become one of the principal designers of the Sea Ranch project. The Hermitage was designed primarily by George Homsey, incorporating details of other buildings on Russian Hill- pitched roofs, cedar shingles, black-painted trim, balusters- into luxury housing.

Listing: 1020 Vallejo, #6, San Francisco

Update: The unit eventually sold, closing escrow on May 27, 2011 for $2,67M, more than a million dollars off the original asking price. A full image gallery is still available at the listing link, above.


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