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

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.