The Most Beautiful Homes: A Tour of San Francisco’s Amazing Haas-Lilienthal Victorian House

The exterior of the Haas-Lilienthal house in San Francisco

In 1973, his grandchildren donated the house to the Foundation for San Francisco's Architectural Heritage in order to preserve it. Since then, this foundation's office has been located on the second floor of the building, and thousands of people attend tours of the house each year. But in all this time, only two people have lived here. One of the curators was kind enough to take us through the rooms.


  • style: Victorian;
  • Year of completion: 1886;
  • Interesting Facts: The house has withstood two earthquakes as well as the times the neighborhood has been built up and is a museum of Victorian architecture and interior design.

Since 1981, the foundation has established the position of house custodian. It is now occupied by Heather Kraft. She has been living on the second floor of this building, which totals more than a thousand square meters, for more than a decade. It's quite possible that she knows the house better than anyone.

The interior of the Haas-Lilienthal House

Preserved wall upholstery, custom furniture and mahogany panels immerse visitors in the atmosphere in which the Haas once gathered around the table, coming to the house every Christmas.

Now any family can have their holiday dinner here by renting the house. Kraft keeps track of events and helps organize them. She claims that people even begin to behave differently in this house.

Wall decor in the Haas-Lilienthal home

A light touch rings the alarm bell in the kitchen. The number of lighted holes indicates which room needed help from the servants.

The interior of the breakfast room in the Haas-Lilienthal home

On the wall in the breakfast room hangs paper that used to be hidden from view. It is a sort of manual for the staff, detailing all the duties, even where to sweep the floor before breakfast and where in the afternoon, when and how to wash the trash cans and clean the paths leading to the house. Heather Kraft is still guided by this schedule at some points.

She does everything in the house herself, from minor repairs to garden work. Until the roof was fixed, she had to crawl through a narrow opening on rainy nights to put a bucket under the holes. She's very picky and doesn't like things out of place.

Interior of the kitchen in the Haas-Lilienthal house

Only one thing in the kitchen is a recent addition: a toaster. Everything else was installed back at the beginning of the last century and used by the family's personal cook.

The work surface in the kitchen

The garden is now completely at Kraft's disposal and is rarely visited because it is not included in the tour itinerary. When the Haas family first moved in, the backyard was used for sewage, and there was no garden.

Victorian laundry room interior

There's a fireplace in the corner that used to be used to heat an iron.

Mock-up of an electric train

In 1929, the family hired a designer to design a garage and an addition to the house that would house the two children's rooms. While the work was going on, the Haas lived in Europe. Kraft's car is now in the garage, and the annex can be rented and have the unique experience of living in a home with a rich history.

The interior of the children's bedroom in the Haas-Lilienthal house

A bidet in the bathroom surprises Americans, but the Haases were often in Europe, which explains the presence of the item.

An antique paper holder

Dressing table – large and comfortable.

An antique boilermaker and a curling iron

The shower has a beautifully serrated showerhead, which would look good in a modern bathtub.

Water regulator in the shower

Next to the bathroom there is a small room where the women often spent time. A portrait of the home's founder hangs here, and family photos hang on the mantelpiece.

The interior of a room in the Haas-Lilienthal house

Behind the enclosing ropes, a checkroom is mysteriously visible.

The interior of the dressing room in the Haas-Lilienthal house

On a table in the same room lies a tear-off calendar. It's open on a symbolic date – Friday the 13th.

Botany book

The house owes her ingenuity and wit to last year's event. On Halloween 2014, there was a special tour where the guides were dressed in costume and visitors were not allowed in until after sundown. The atmosphere added even more mystery to an already mysterious house. Tour guides told scary stories, and costumed actors jumped out here and there. The event was a runaway success, and Kraft intends to do it again this year.

Maid's room turned into a nursery. Toys from that period only create atmosphere, they didn't belong to the Haas family. The exception is the dollhouse, built by the same chauffeur who put together the railroad. One of the dolls is even dressed in a chauffeur's uniform.

The interior of a room in the Haas-Lilienthal house

Another keeper's idea was to display dolls that belonged to Haas' daughter under glass in the hallway. She found them in the attic and decided to decorate them this way.

The interior of the bathroom in the Haas-Lilienthal house

Blue and white tiles still look stylish.

The interior of the office in the Haas-Lilienthal house

The attic pantry has many shelves and a window in the ceiling. What is the view from it, unfortunately, is not known, because it is too high.

The interior of the library in the Haas-Lilienthal house

And while Kraft let the photographer into many of the rooms where others are not allowed, she left the door closed in one room. This is her bedroom, which is guarded from inside by Lulu the cat.

Homeowner Heather Kraft
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