House History: 415 17th Avenue
The house at 415 17th Avenue was built in 1915 by Jonathan Anderson, a 54 year old house builder. Anderson had immigrated from Sweden in 1880 and like many of his fellow Scandinavian immigrants, joined the carpentry and house building trade in San Francisco. Scandinavian contractors were prevalent in the development and construction of San Francisco's outer neighborhoods. Anderson and his family lived one block east on 16th Avenue in a house that he likely built, which has a similar facade design to the subject house but bears Tudor Revival styling. In fact, Anderson built the majority of the houses neighboring 415 17th Avenue and ranging along both block faces of 17th Avenue. Their similar facade organizations give them away as a tract development, but the variety of their styling and decorative features gives the neighborhood eclectic character. Anderson likely purchased much of the land along 17th Avenue, then built on speculation for future buyers. He would have made a pretty profit selling each for around $2,400 in 1915 dollars.
The first known owners and occupants of the house at 415 17th Avenue were Thomas McDonough, a liquor merchant, and his wife, Mary. They moved into the house in 1919 and stayed though the late-1920s. Next, Henry C. and Nora Rice lived at the house. Henry Rice had been employed as a janitor at the San Francisco Ferry Building, but at age 69, was retired by the time the family moved to 415 17th Avenue. The Rices had two adult daughters, Norma and Helen, and a nephew, William Fleming, who lived at the house with them. William worked as a receiving clerk in the advertising industry. Henry Rice died later in 1930 and Nora died in 1932. By 1940, William, then age 51, was listed as the head of the household, with his two cousins, Norma and Helen, unmarried and in their late 30s, living with him. All three appear to have worked together in advertising; William as a clerk, Norma as a stenographer, and Helen as a secretary. Although William left the scene in the 1940s, Norma and Helen continued to own and live at 415 17th Avenue into the 1980s.
The house Edwardian in style with Mission Revival overtones. It is elevated above the street on a raised basement level that is clad with handsome two-tone blonde and red brick veneer. The basement level garage entrance has hinged double-doors authentic to its 1916 construction date, when such a garage would have been a relatively novel feature. Personal automobiles were not as prevalent as they are today and most families would have only owned one, if any at all.
On the right side of the facade, broad steps lead to the entry vestibule, the opening of which has rounded shoulders and a three-part recessed wall niche above. The recessed porch welcomes visitors, who enter the house through the glazed wood entry door that is flanked by ample sidelights. A projecting square bay with a large front window dominates the left side of the first story. The window has a three-part sash with narrow transom sashes at the top and the bay is capped with a shed roof. The eaves are adorned with block modillions meant to represent exposed roof beams, or in the Mission aesthetic, “vigas.”
The second story has a three-part window at the center that echoes the large front window below and one-over-one, double-hung sashes on either side; all likely original to the house. The facade is crowned by another modillioned shed roof that reflects the one over the first story bay window. It has staunch stuccoed tabs