The Architectural Turf of Oliver Rousseau.

5 05 2009

SF Gate has been doing some interesting pieces on early 1920’s Sunset architect Oliver Rousseau. I was stoked to realize that several of these homes were in one of my first posts. I’m familiar with this guys work, or at least familiar with his work from the outside. I’ve just never been able to put a name to it till now. Dave Weinstein of The Chronicle described the Rousseaus as “wonderfully quirky Hansel-and-Gretel homes.” I would agree. It adds another surreal layer to The Outer Sunset. From the outside it almost looks like being on the set of a movie filled with silly Euro-Disney impersonations of real houses, but then you have to remember that these homes have been standing for some 90 years now. There are high winds, Ocean Beach fog that eats metal alive, and tropical rain forest levels of humidity and mold in the air. Yet almost a century later these homes that were all built on sand dunes are still standing and going for over a million dollars and change.

I make no claims that any of these homes were actually designed by Oliver Rousseau. These were just some of the more interesting sights that have caught my eye over the years in what is generally accepted as being Oliver Rousseau’s architectural turf: 33rd Ave to 36th Ave between Kirkham and Lawton.

Oliver Rousseau 33

Oliver Rousseau 29

Oliver Rousseau 26

Oliver Rousseau 31

Oliver Rousseau 24

Oliver Rousseau 21

Oliver Rousseau 19

Oliver Rousseau 18

Oliver Rousseau 20

Oliver Rousseau 12

Oliver Rousseau 11

Oliver Rousseau 5

Oliver Rousseau 9

Oliver Rousseau 8

Oliver Rousseau 2

Oliver Rousseau 3

Oliver Rousseau 4.5

Oliver Rousseau 1

Oliver Rousseau 17

Oliver Rousseau 28-tr

Oliver Rousseau 30

Oliver Rousseau 22

Oliver Rousseau 15

Oliver Rousseau 14-tr

Oliver Rousseau was partial to towers and these neat little single person balconies.

The guy was making Super Mario levels decades before Nintendo was invented.

Oliver Rousseau 25

Little know factoid – it’s a severe zoning violation if you don’t have at least one house per block in The Outer Sunset that is not painted in some form of a loud, tacky, color.


Related Posts –

Little Boxes

Life is the Great Highway.

30 04 2009

This is another great quirky house that’s on the very last block of The Outer Sunset, right next to The Great Highway and Ocean Beach.

Life is the Great Highway 1

Life is the Great Highway 2

Life is the Great Highway 3

Life is the Great Highway 9

Life is the Great Highway 4

Life is the Great Highway 6

Crazy Guy’s House on 420

23 04 2009

Crazy Guy's House on 420 1

Crazy Guy's House on 420 2

Crazy Guy's House on 420 3

Crazy Guy's House on 420 8

Crazy Guy's House on 420 7

The Outer Sunset Has Loud, Tacky Colors.

17 03 2009

Architecture Of The Outer Sunset.2

Colors not found in nature. Colors that you would find only in cereal boxes, Saturday morning cartoons, and The 1977 JC Penny Catalog

Here’s just a few.

Architecture Of The Outer Sunset.1

loud colors1

Architecture Of The Outer Sunset.4

Architecture Of The Outer Sunset.3

Architecture Of The Outer Sunset.5

The purple itself wouldn’t be that bad, but to add on two extra floors and paint them pink and then yellow? Really, guy? Is that really how you want to express yourself?

Architecture Of The Outer Sunset.6

And this one has the winning combination of a Malibu Stacy shades of yellow, pink, and green with the added bonus of having Purple Rain living across the street.

Architecture Of The Outer Sunset.8

I actually love the blood red color of this house. This house gets an A.

Architecture Of The Outer Sunset.7

And this is one of the more infamous loud, tacky, colored structures in The Outer Sunset.

Architecture Of The Outer Sunset9

I always imagined that if The Joker had a lair in San Francisco this would be it.

Way to keep a low profile there, Joker.

Golden Gate Pharmacy

17 03 2009

golden gate pharmacy1

This building always struck me as being really odd. It has a phallic type structure sticking out which isn’t that uncommon, there are lots of phallic chimneys and towers in The Outer Sunset. It’s also painted in this tacky greenish type color, which again isn’t all that unusual. There are lots of loud, tacky colors in The Outer Sunset. But what nails it is the combination of a sickly greenish phallic structure with spots as the building for Golden Gate Pharmacy.

golden gate pharmacy 2

Normally whenever I see green spots on the wall I think “I’ve had too much fun and I better gear down before the room starts spinning” and if I were to ever see green spots on my dick I’d probably think “I just fucked something I should not have and now my life has become a horrible STD commercial.” But maybe that’s all part of Golden Gate Pharmacy’s covert marketing strategy. Don’t ask me. I don’t know.

Crazy Guy’s House.

16 02 2009


There are 3 things that instantly come to mind whenever I think of the suburbs.

There’s The Wonder Years. This sick with nostalgia feeling of different, goofy, outdated, salad day moments in all these different suburbs and Navy housing units that I grew up in. And this isn’t a recent phenomenon. Generations of Americans have been raised in the suburbs since the post-WW2 boom and they each have their own goofy, outdated, corny memories of growing up in those housing units that are special to them.

There’s swimming pools & punk rock. There’s everything from the Bad Religion punk rock, Blink 182 suburban punk rock, and straight edge punk rock as a rebuttal to the conformity of the suburbs. During the droughts of the 1980’s Los Angeles homeowners would let their backyard pools run dry to conserve water and that in turn directly created the vertical skateboard movement. Last year, people were abandoning their homes because they couldn’t make their mortgage payments in such great number that there was an explosion of West Nile virus in southern California because nobody was maintaining all these polluted swimming pools. Punk rock & The Law of Unintended Consequences.

And then there’s The Home Owner’s Association, the mafia of the suburbs. Drunk on power and accountable to no one, they are The Law of the suburbs. Leave your Christmas lights or Halloween pumpkins out too late after the holidays and the first time you’ll get a warning, the 2nd time you’ll get a ticket. If you want to build a fence or make a landscaping change you need their blessings. If you want to paint your wall you have to get written permission from them beforehand. Even if it’s the same color. Revolutions have been fought over slighter grievances.

That’s why Crazy Guy’s House is so ironic.


At 90 some years, The Outer Sunset has got to be one of the oldest suburbs on the West Coast. Yet, there’s no Home Owner’s Association out here. Because there’s no way in Hell that this house would exist in any other suburb in California that had one. I’m part of the David Best fan club and I’m all for transforming trash into art…but sorry, sometimes trash put up on a pedestal is still just trash. Crazy Man’s House is a windmill of crap. On a windy day you can hear Crazy Man’s House from half a block away. If I lived near this guy it would drive me crazy over time, yet in the 14 years that I’ve lived out here not only has he not been forced to take his shit down, but dude has actually added to his collection.




That’s why life in The Outer Sunset is so surreal. Like a David Lynch movie. Or a bad youtube video. It’s own little piece of the Twilight Zone where the laws of physics, zoning violations, and common sense don’t always exist. It’s very weird.

Nice purple succulents though –

crazy guys house succulant

Little Boxes

7 02 2009



little boxes

I’m familiar with the repetition in The Outer Sunset. I’m a Navy Brat and a product of the suburbs. The suburbs were tattooed onto my personality’s basic operating system at an early age. Most of the people I knew and grew up with were from the suburbs. You can take one basic floor plan, tweak it a few different ways, and then zerox that off to build entire blocks. Entire neighborhoods. Entire zip codes. They’re building a new suburb near my parent’s house in San Diego that will be bigger than the city of San Francisco. The cycle of Life continues…

Henry Doelger is the Easy E of American Architecture. I really dig this guy. As a child, Henry Doelger supported his family by selling bathtub gin and homemade beer at his “hot dog stand” in Golden Gate Park during the early 1900’s. As an adult, Henry invested the profits from that endeavor to buy real estate and build homes in the sand dunes of The Outside Lands. People called him crazy, but the man built a big chunk of The Outer Sunset and became one of the godfathers of this art form that we now refer to as the suburbs.

The song “Little Boxes” was written about a piece Henry Doelger did in Daily City. What’s ironic is that song is now the theme show for Weeds, a show about drug dealers who rent homes under aliases and use them just to grow pot. These days pot growing houses, along with the sex slave prostitution human traffic racket are the dominating black market cash crops of The Outer Sunset.

What’s funny though is that The Outer Sunset really isn’t cookie cutter art.

It really isn’t.

There’s a lot of diversity and guts out here. It’s very unique like that.






And this is one of my all time favorite pieces. To me, it’s the architecture equivalent of a Frank Sinatra song. Good art never goes out of style.