Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Crocker Mansion or Huntington Mansion? - Spite Fence

From: "Digi Numetro"

I've been wondering about this for a long time so I thought I would see if anyone can answer this question.

Please see the photo below.

In many historical photos of San Francisco, including the famous 1878 Eadweard Muybridge 360 degree panorama photo of SF taken from the Mark Hopkins mansion tower, the Crocker Mansion is located next to the Huntington Mansion on California Street (now where Grace Cathedral and Huntington Park are located).

In all of these historic SF photos, there is something called the "Crocker Spite Fence" that can be seen that was built to surround and "spite" the only property owner who would not sell to Charles Crocker when he built his mansion atop Nob Hill.

But the Crocker Spite Fence (as it is written about in historical accounts and pictured in the Muybridge panorama photo is shown as being part of the Huntington Mansion, next door to the Crocker Mansion.

So why is the "Crocker" Spite Fence located on the Huntington Mansion, next door to the Crocker Mansion, and not vice-verse? Does everyone everywhere that has the mansions identified the way they show in the photo below just have it wrong, with the mansion names reversed? All articles written say that the "Crocker Spite Fence" was part of the Crocker Mansion, or course, but everywhere that I can find photos of the two mansions, they are identified the same way.

In the detail of the Muybridge photo below, and in many other photos that I have found in books and online, the Crocker Mansion is identified as being the dark colored home to the left of the light colored Huntington Mansion with the "Crocker Spite Fence" built in to it. This can be seen in the Muybridge panoramic photo. ...

—Digi Numetro

Crocker Mansion or Huntington Mansion? - Spite Fence

Crocker Mansion or Huntington Mansion? - Spite Fence

Crocker Spite Fence Map

Crocker Spite Fence Colton-Huntington mansion shape

San Francisco Call, May 6, 1904, page 11
San Francisco Call, May 6, 1904, page 11.


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...


You are fooled by perspective. Note where the Crocker property line fencing is in the view you sent. The Spite Fence is clearly on the Crocker block, not the Colton (later Huntington) block.

[See second photo above.]


6/09/2011 1:39 AM  
Anonymous Bruce C. Cooper said...

From the SF Call, May 6, 1904, p11:

Conveys "Spite" Fence Lot

A deed was recorded yesterday showing the transfer from Thomas J. Barbour to W.H. Crocker and his sister of the lot in the rear of the Crocker home on California street, on which the "spite" fence was maintained for years. The fence has been removed and the lot will be made part of the garden surrounding the home.

6/09/2011 6:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: "Digi Numetro"

... I think I see what you are saying about the perspective ... so you are saying that the spite fence was not built in to the white colored Huntington Mansion, but around the Yung residence on the back corner of the Crocker property behind the Huntington Mansion, correct?

But the spite fence seems to clearly be built in to the white colored, Huntington Mansion in all photos that I've see of it. Please see the revised photo that I've attached below. If what you are saying is the case, wouldn't the roof of the Huntington Mansion perspectively extend to where the green line is that I've added?

Your description makes sense, but the cut of roof on the Huntington Mansion appears to indicate otherwise.

I think if I could find another image of the spite fence from a different angle, it would settle this question and probably prove you correct. ...


6/09/2011 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Note that the main part of the Colton/Huntington mansion is in an "L" shape, but that there are some additions inside the "L" - perhaps a conservatory and/or solarium. While optically it appears that the spite fence is in the same block as the Colton/Huntington mansion, and perhaps even attached to it, if you study the photo closely you will see that the spite fence is indeed in the block containing the Crocker mansion, not the one with the Colton/Huntington mansion. ...


6/09/2011 11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From: "Digi Numetro"

Thanks for that deed notice... that's an interesting addition to the history, images and links that I've collected on this subject.

After closely studying a large version of the Muybridge photo, I am convinced that Kyle and you are right. Kyle sent me a reply a little earlier and we exchanged a few comments back and forth. The Huntington Mansion is somewhat L shaped and gives the illusion of being built around the spite fence that actually sits behind the Huntington Mansion from that angle... by George (or Kyle and Bruce) you both solved the conundrum!

As a reward for your brilliance and answering a question that even a known SF Historian could not answer, I included the links to 5 short San Francisco history films that I've made in the last few months.

Part four of the "A Flight Through Time in San Francisco", below, at the top of the list, is my most recent effort, and the other parts, one, two and three are below that... then there is my very first one "San Francisco History 101" at the bottom.

Recently I made a huge 22 foot, 19,315 pixel wide digital image composite of the Muybridge photo that is almost perfect and quite a bit of work and reconstruction went in to making it seamless, covering the seams and structural imperfections where the 13 images came together... this huge image is included as a teaser portion toward the end of "AFTTISF - Part Four", linked below. And there is quite a bit of archival SF film footage included and custom image animation techniques that I've learned and created in the past few months.

In part one, the second link below, there is panoramic animation of a very large 1862 drawing of San Francisco with today's landmarks superimposed over the animation. And in part two, there is panoramic animation of a more current large photo taken in 2009 from Twin Peaks. Part three is a spoof on "2001: a space odyssey" in a San Francisco context, and the original, "San Francisco History 101" is a bit more, well primitive effort among my other more advanced techniques that I've created recently.

Each main video screen link goes to a large, full browser page, 720p HD video player, and then there is a link below each screen to the normal video player on YouTube... part three is posted on, which has only one video player option. With all of these, it is a good idea to click the link, allow the video to start loading (buffering) and then click the pause button, allow the video to buffer for five or ten minutes, then click the play button to view glitch-free SF movies... all of these productions are under 15 minutes each.

Thanks again for your help solving this puzzle.


[Links below]

6/10/2011 2:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


LARGE HD 14.58 A Flight Through Time in San Francisco Part Four The Turn of the Nineteenth Century VIDEO LINK

14:58 - "A Flight Through Time in San Francisco - Part Four - The Turn of the Nineteenth Century" - VIDEO LINK


12:00 - "A Flight Through Time in San Francisco" - VIDEO LINK

LARGE HD - 14:51 - A Flight Through Time in San Francisco - Part Two - VIDEO LINK

14:51 - "A Flight Through Time in San Francisco - Part Two" - VIDEO LINK

HD - 11:56 - A Flight Through Time in San Francisco - Part III - Three Million B.C. Through the Future and Back - VIDEO LINK

LARGE HD - 08:22 - "San Francisco History I0I" - VIDEO LINK

08:22 - "San Francisco History 101" - VIDEO LINK

6/10/2011 2:03 PM  

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