Landmark Victorian Mansion Restoration Projects
1057 Steiner Street, San Francisco, CA-- The Chateau Tivoli

Rodney Karr and his partner Bill, purchased the Chateau Tivoli (the Jackson/Kreling Mansion), at 1057 Steiner Street, in San Francisco, in 1985, in a state of disrepair. Between 1985 and 1990, they were involved in a massive restoration project, which took over six years, cost in excess of $750,000, and involved the continuous work of numerous carpenters, painters, artists, and tradespeople. This landmark mansion is known as "The Greatest Painted Lady in The World", and has received numerous awards, including the "Best Landmark Restoration of a Victorian Home, in California", in 1990. Rodney and Bill supervised all creative work including the choice of twenty two colors for the exterior, including over fifteen thousand dollars alone in gold leaf. They also supervised room by room the design, decoration, and furnishing of each of the twenty two rooms within the Chateau Tivoli. They opened the mansion as a bed and breakfast inn, in 1990, and continued to operate it until 1996 when it was sold, and they moved to Walnut Creek, CA. It continues to operate as a successfull bed and breakfast inn to this day.


Exterior of the Chateau Tivoli - color design was done by Rodney Karr and Bill in 1989, and involves over 22 shades and colors and over $15,000 in gold-leafing


1057 Steiner at Golden Gate. Chateau Tivoli.1890. Queen Anne/French Revival. William Armitage designed this massive twenty-two-room dwelling for Oregon lumber baron Daniel B. Jackson, who made it grander still by having his architect add the four adjacent party-wall houses to look like a continuation other 1057's fašade around the corner along Golden Gate Avenue. You can even read its name, "Seattle Block," on the central gable. Unfortunately, the four houses are no longer painted to match.



The second owner, Ernestine Kraling, owner of the Tivoli Opera House, was followed in 1930 by a Yiddish school, which made it a cultural center for thirty years. By the time psychologist Rodney Karr and his partner Willard A. Gersbach bought it, the place had become a commune and a center for New Age groups. They found it run down and stripped of interior woodwork and columns.

Russell Epstein took eleven months to restore the exterior, from top to bottom, using color designs by the owners who were inspired by the pink fireplace tiles in the dining room.

Seventeen colors, plus gold leaf, were used on the exterior; frame green, deep river green, frieze pale green, Portland blue, aubergine, raisin brown, light turquoise, dark turquoise, light and dark clay, dusty rose body color, deep rose trim, duval rose, gray, white, moss, and hickory. The owners spent $6,000 on 23-karat gold leaf to give this magnificent building a paint job worthy of the architecture.

The Baroque top frieze, with musical notes and two designs, was stripped and remade on-site. Portions of it had to be built up and replastered. The classical English Adams relief frieze at cornice level had to be stripped, and in many places was restored by making new molds. Acanthus leaves and other decorations were worked on with dental tools.

Much of the relief had to be stripped and resurfaced. Wood trim had to be duplicated. The siding was extremely soft, so special care had to be taken with it. The entire fašade had to be hand sanded after torch stripping. Balustrade spindles were removed for stripping.

The owners rededicated the house in celebration of the Harmonic Convergence in August 1987. The house is available for rent for special occasions. In June 1990. Chateau Tivoli will become [became] a bed-and-breakfast with six one- and two-bedroom suites decorated with faux finishes and Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers.

As a cultural center, the Tivoli will offer facilities for seminars and meetings and will also provide guests with the opportunity to attend musical and literary events in the grand style of the Victorian salons.



Exterior facing north on Golden Gate Avenue - photo by Douglas Keister

Pg.49 (Above). 1057 Steiner. This overview of the side shows the cresting restored to bring the only patterned shingled roof in San Francisco back into proportion. The cresting was fabricated by Bay Area Ironworks from Rodney Karr's designs and installed by the Barton Construction Company. The double entry and facing have been completely rebuilt, and the fence is new.


Exterior shot of the front entrance

Pg. 49 (Right and below). 1057 Steiner. Entry-way. Aubergine high-gloss latex was used on the front columns, which resemble the columns at the Palace of Knossos on Crete.



Detail of the exterior




Interior of the Chateau Tivoli

Pg. 52 1057 Steiner. Front Parlor. The woodwork in the entryway and front two parlors had to be re-created in plaster and new wood. A century ago, Victorians used faux-grained plaster because it was cheaper and easier than wood. Redwood was also faux-grained and stained, especially for interiors where the look of oak was desired. The Wedgwood frieze echoes the Wedgwood tiling in the dining room. Lincrusta Walton was added and painted to go with the exterior Adamesque detailing. Lincrusta is a three-dimensional pressed linoleum or rubber like wall or ceiling covering that can be purchased in rolls and is still available in catalogs. It can be painted or stained to order.

Pomada, Elizabeth et. al., (November, 1989), The Painted Ladies Revisited, Published by E P Dutton ; ISBN (soft cover): 0525485082



Double Parlors


Master Bedroom Suite (Tetrizini Suite)


Dining Room


Master Bedroom Suite (Tetrizini Suite)


Duncan Bedroom


Sitting room of the Tetrizini Suite


The Crocker Bedroom


A day of filming Rodney Karr and his friend Jehanah's return to the Chateau Tivoli, their previous home.


Rodney and Jehanah's return



Rodney and Jehanah's return



Rodney and Jehanah's return



Rodney and Jehanah's return



Rodney and Jehanah's return



Rodney and Jehanah's return



Rodney and Jehanah's return



Rodney and Jehanah's return



Rodney and Jehanah's return



Rodney and Jehanah's return



Rodney and Jehanah's return



Rodney and Jehanah's return



Rodney and Jehanah's return



Rodney and Jehanah's return