Whittier Mansion

Also known as: California Historical Society Building
2090 Jackson St., San Francisco, California


Historic American Buildings Survey California Historical Society Collection Photograph: ca. 1910 Photo Copy: October 1960 SOUTH ELEVATION

Photo taken for the Historic American Buildings Survey


Street View 


Built for William Franklin Whittier between 1894 and 1896, this massive Arizona sandstone building has passed through a number of interesting owners. Occupied as a residence until the early 1940s, it was sold to the German Reich in 1941 as a San Francisco consulate. Seized by the Alien Property Custodian (later transferred to the Attorney General of the US) during WWII, it was auctioned in 1950 to Mrs. Echo Leonetti. From her it passed to George and Mary Barton, thence to Robert Wilhelm and Isabell and Paul Dessez, and finally to the California Historical Society in 1956. Mortimer Adler's Institute of Philosophical Research occupied part of the building from 1952 to 1956. It is one of the few major houses of the later 19th century to survive to the present day, and is an interesting combination of massive Richardsonian Romanesque with Period styling. The architectural details of the interiors are exceptional in material and in preservation; they reflect studious variations of historical sources which marked the end of 19th century American architecture. -- Historic American Buildings Survey

San Francisco Designated Landmark No.75

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on April 26, 1976
Reference number
Architectural style
Mixed architectural types
Area of significance
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic function
Single dwelling
Current functions
Museum; Business
Period of significance
Significant year

Update Log 

  • January 29, 2017: New Street View added by Bill Eichelberger
  • April 28, 2012: Imported photos from HABS/HAER