Our trusty, local realtor, Joan Loeffler, has turned me onto a rumor that someone just paid over $600,000 in cash for the above. A building with no finished interior walls, bare unprepared floor boards and a rear part of the house that needs a lot of work (Just look at the photos at the bottom of the article). Not only are there questions over who has laid down that chunk of change, but also what do they plan to do with it?
460 Hamilton Street is a part of the Portola’s rich history and many in the neighborhood are hoping the new owners plan to celebrate that history by restoring the property to honor its original glory. Built on a large lot (approx. 70 by 140 foot), easily able to support two large modern family homes, a contractor would be tempted to smash the building to the ground and redevelop the entire plot. But the house’s age is going to make that avenue of development very difficult, if not impossible. I spoke with Christopher VerPlanck, a well known San Francisco historic researcher, and he told me that;
…as a building that is certainly over 50 years old, the Planning Department will require the owner to hire someone like my firm to research its history and write a Historic Resource Evaluation (HRE) that analyzes its potential eligibility for listing in the California Register. If it is eligible, the owner would need to prepare a focused Environmental Impact Report (EIR), which would be prohibitively expensive. If they are smart, they will just build on the back of the property and restore the house. I can’t say for sure whether it qualifies for listing but it is a well-preserved example of a Craftsman bungalow, a type of house that is rare in most of San Francisco (except for Westwood Park).
So plans to remove the entire building are unlikely to pass and would find opposition, not only by the city, but also the neighborhood. Many Portola citizens living around the area have already been writing letters informing potential buyers of how they feel. There will certainly be action taken if they see plans for this beautiful building to be desecrated.
However; the current state of the home is not exactly “move in ready”. Plans to renovate the house, by the previous owner, have never materialized, even after many filed permits and money invested. Clearly someone needs to roll up their sleeves, dig deep into their pockets, and bring this house back from the dead.
460 Hamilton, a short history
So while the future is unknown, I did some digging and found a wonderful history to this place. The house was built in the early 1900’s and one of the first residents was John M. Colbert (1884-1942). Arriving from Ireland in his early twenties, he operated Colbert’s Pet Store at 2902 Mission Street in the city. John bred, raised, and sold Irish setter dogs. They were raised in kennels, located at the back of 460 Hamilton Street. Some of the dogs were shown in AKC dog shows. John passed away in 1942, at the age of 58 and shortly after that the pet store and kennels were sold. The house at 460 Hamilton then passed to the Robinette family, through John’s daughter, Mary.
I was able to get in touch with one of Mary’s daughters, Marianne. She told us that John owned the property before he married her grandmother, Elizabeth Miley Colbert, in 1912. Elizabeth and her sister, Mary Ellen Miley, actually grew up in the Portola, living on the 300 block of Woolsey Street. Marianne’s mother, Mary Cornelia Colbert, who inherited the house, married George Robinette and they raised eleven children in the house! Marianne was sibling number four and was the first girl of the family. Mary lived her entire life at 460 Hamilton Street and married George, who had been stationed at the military quarters, that the army had setup at the Portola Playground. George and Mary continued to live in the house until they passed away in 2002 and 2004 respectively.
It was then in 2005 the house was sold for a whopping, now get this, $1,285,000! Even in the crazy boom of the high tech industry, that was a high price to pay for such a property. Unfortunately, the new owner quickly ran into problems and the house was left dormant for many years. Slowly there were efforts to restore the house, which resulted in the photo’s you see below. But either the money or the interest ran out and 460 Hamilton once again went up for sale this past month.
Even in its dilapidated state, and at an asking price of $454.500, there were 12 offers to buy. So the story, for now, ends here at the rumor one of those offers was around $600,000. I’ve made an attempt to contact the new owners and as soon as we find out more, the Portola Planet will report.