Muscat Daily - - FEATURES -

In 1906, El­iz­a­beth Les­lie Meyer­feld mar­ried Leon Lazare Roos. Her fa­ther, who owned a chain of theatres, promised the cou­ple a new house.

Un­der any cir­cum­stance, a new house would be a sub­stan­tial wed­ding present. But given that the new­ly­weds were in San Fran­cisco, a city that had just seen 56 per cent of its pop­u­la­tion ren­dered home­less by an earth­quake and the re­sul­tant fire, the area’s real es­tate was in a par­tic­u­larly acute state of flux.

“This was right after the earth­quake,” said Mark Roos, the cou­ple’s grand­son. “There was a lot of move­ment from the Van Ness neigh­bour­hood [which was used as a fire­break dur­ing the earth­quake] to the Pre­sidio.” The cou­ple chose a plot of land on Jack­son Street. It “was the first house on the block,” Roos said.

After com­mis­sion­ing, then re­ject­ing, an ini­tial set of plans, the el­der Rooses, who were both in their early 20s, hired prom­i­nent lo­cal ar­chi­tect Bernard May­beck to build a 9,000sq ft, Tu­dor re­vival-style house. Con­struc­tion of the home, made en­tirely of red­wood (“the ba­sic, avail­able build­ing ma­te­rial of the time,” Roos said), took two years and was achieved for what Roos es­ti­mated was “less than US$50,000.”

The house has been passed down through gen­er­a­tions. A full cen­tury later, Roos and his wife Sarah have put the house on the mar­ket, list­ing it with Nina Hat­vany for US$16mn.

Two res­i­dents, five ser­vants

When the house was com­pleted in 1909, the house had two bed­rooms for its own­ers, as well as staff bed­rooms for chauf­feur, up­stairs maid, down­stairs maid, but­ler and wash­er­woman. Staff quar­ters oc­cu­pied most of the base­ment and at­tic.

The first and sec­ond floors were pri­mar­ily ded­i­cated to en­ter­tain­ing. When Roos’s grand­mother built the house, “she was very en­gaged in her so­cial life, in the lit­er­ary and the­atri­cal worlds,” he said. “So I’m ab­so­lutely sure that en­ter­tain­ing was a pri­mary re­quire­ment.”

The ground floor has a mas­sive, vaulted ceil­ing cov­ered in red­wood pan­elling, with a large pic­ture win­dow over­look­ing San Fran­cisco Bay. There’s also a grand, for­mal din­ing room on the same floor.

Once Roos’s fa­ther Les­lie was born, ar­chi­tect May­beck was re-en­listed to mod­ify the house. He added an up­stairs liv­ing room that served as a nurs­ery.


May­beck also en­closed sev­eral of the house’s porches. “They were less than use­ful” when open to the el­e­ments, Roos said, “given the weather in San Fran­cisco”.

By the 1930s, the house had reached its cur­rent size - 10,313sq ft - with seven bed­rooms, six full bath­rooms, and one half-bath. (Four of the bed­rooms have en suite baths.) Sub­se­quently, there were only mi­nor mod­i­fi­ca­tions.

Roos’s fa­ther, who was an at­tor­ney, mar­ried a physi­cian named Jane Schae­fer. After her hus­band’s pre­ma­ture death in the 1960s, Jane be­came close to her mother-in-law (“they trav­elled to- gether,” Roos said), and even­tu­ally moved into the house to take care of her. “When my mom moved into the house, we were al­ready in a dif­fer­ent sort of world,” said Roos. “So two ma­jor things were done: The garage was changed so that you didn’t have to en­ter it through a long, nar­row drive, which was fine for a chauf­feur and not great for a prac­tic­ing physi­cian. And the kitchen, which had a sep­a­rate but­ler’s pantry, was mod­i­fied to be one large space with a break­fast room.”

There were a few other tweaks: The laun­dry room was moved up­stairs, and bed­rooms were shifted, even added to the third floor, for in­stance. But most of the changes were made so “you could run the house with far fewer peo­ple,” Roos said. Soon after, Roos and his wife, both freshly out of grad­u­ate school (Yale for him, MIT for her), moved back to San Fran­cisco and into the house.

Three gen­er­a­tions

They raised their chil­dren in the home. Then, when Roos’s mother died in 2016, her will stip­u­lated that the house be sold. “Ba­si­cally, the fam­ily is dis­persed, and there are a lot of ben­e­fi­cia­ries,” Roos said. “So it’s time to sell it.”

Prospec­tive buy­ers will find an in­te­rior that’s been up­dated but largely un­changed since it was first con­structed. “The clear in­ten­tion has been to pre­serve the house and not to change it,” Roos said. The chan­de­liers in the main room are orig­i­nal, as are most of the house’s or­na­men­tal de­tails.

The house is sit­u­ated so that many of its rooms have un­ob­structed views of the bay. From the third-floor bed­room on the north side, Roos said, “you can sit in bed and look at the Golden Gate Bridge”.

De­spite a cen­tury of fam­ily mem­o­ries, Roos, who now lives in his fam­ily’s coun­try house in Marin County, said he doesn’t re­gret putting it on the mar­ket. “It was re­ally won­der­ful to live there for 30-plus years - and to raise our chil­dren there and to share it with our mom,” he said.


The house was built by a prom­i­nent San Fran­cisco ar­chi­tect

The kitchen

A sit­ting area

The land­ing that leads to the sec­ond floor

The house has a small, land­scaped out­door area

There are orig­i­nal de­tails in al­most every room

Four of the bed­rooms are en suite

The main en­trance. Most of the house is con­structed of red­wood

The din­ing room

The liv­ing room, with orig­i­nal mould­ing

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