With its creative mix of grandiose curb appeal, opulent living space and over-the-top grounds, this historic Neoclassical-style estate in the prestigious Presidio Heights neighborhood is indeed a one-of-a-kind property … albeit with a fascinating, if not storied, past that begins with its origins as a brick and sandstone replica of the Le Petit Trianon at the Palace of Versailles.
Originally designed by famed society architect Franklin S. Van Trees and built in the early 1900s for prominent Bay Area family Marcus and Corinne (Cora) Koshland — him an heir to a wool company, and her a founder of the San Francisco Symphony Association and one of the first directors of the San Francisco Opera Company — Le Petit Trianon (also known as the “Koshland House”) was inspired by the couple’s visit to France during a European vacation and modeled after the original world-renowned building at the Versailles Palace in France constructed from 1763-1768 by King Louis XV.
“One of things that makes this home so unique is its extraordinary history,” says listing agent Joel Goodrich, director of the estates Division for Coldwell Banker Global Luxury. “When it was first built for a prominent San Francisco family in 1904, they had 500 hand-delivered invitations sent to San Francisco society for a Marie Antoinette-style ball.”
From its start to its current pristine state, however, things started to go a little sideways for the property, beginning with damage to the façade that occurred during the city’s 1906 earthquake and fire. It survived the disaster, with the exterior restored, and was purchased by financier Walter E. Buck in 1955 for $100,000. It was sold to attorney Paul Renne in 1977 for $525,000, and then the house changed hands again before being sold to Charles Pankow and his wife, Heide Betz, in 1982.
Several years later, it was purchased for $18 million by CNET co-founder Halsey Minor, who recruited top designer Michael Smith for an expensive renovation before ultimately abandoning the house, leaving it in ruins following the financial crisis. Then, in 2015, there was a stint by a squatter — “self-described artist and nomad” Jeremiah Kaylor — who was later arrested and served five months in prison.
All of this was followed by the estate’s most recent purchase by venture capitalist and current owner Ron Jankov, who bought it for $12 million in a trustee sale in 2016 and then set out on a three-year, multimillion-dollar renovation before listing it for $30 million in 2019. Reportedly, Jankov never moved into the property. Along the way, it was named to the National Register of Historic Places; hosted some of San Francisco’s most important social, cultural, artistic and philanthropic events; and served as the site of the San Francisco Decorator Showcase on two separate occasions.
Found on a sprawling parcel of land at the corner of Washington and Maple streets, the breathtaking estate welcomes via a seemingly endless façade showcased by four two-story high Corinthian columns and sweeping, curved double marble Palladian-style staircases punctuated by frosted glass lamp posts flanked by greenery, and crowned by classical acanthus leaf details and balustrades.
Once inside, almost 18,000 square feet of lavish living space is introduced via a circular entry sporting patterned marble flooring, a domed ceiling, slab marble walls, columns and French doors overlooking interior gardens. Among the main-level highlights: a three-story marble atrium boasting a grand marble staircase, solid marble Doric columns and a stained-glass skylight; a massive Moroccan-style formal dining room/family room with barrel-vaulted beamed ceilings, a tiled fireplace and carved Atlantean figures; gourmet kitchen with Calcutta marble countertops and high-end appliances; and library adorned with a carved marble and wood fireplace.
Heading to the dwelling’s two upper levels, one finds a wealth of bedrooms — including a guest suite occupying an entire wing, replete with a wet bar/kitchenette featuring banquette seating and marble countertops, spa-like bath with soaking tub and den/dining room with terrazzo tile flooring. Also on this floor is a family room/library adorned with the original beamed ceiling, wainscoting, a marble fireplace and lovely views of the bay.
The lower level, meanwhile, holds the original Hall of Mirrors-inspired, Versailles-style ballroom that has since been transformed into a chic modern nightclub — consisting of a raised stage, Calcutta Viola marble-clad bar with inset lighting and trio of refrigerators. There’s also a catering kitchen equipped with top-tier appliances, as well as a spacious butler’s pantry with a duo of wine fridges.
Topping it all off? Expansive resort-like grounds designed in a classic French style with winding parterres, lush greenery and formal garden bedecked with modern sculpture. Lastly, a cobblestone driveway with parking for up to eight cars and a two-car garage round out this special home’s appeal.
“This is San Francisco’s architectural crown jewel — timeless, elegant and unforgettable,” says Goodrich. “It’s truly one of the world’s most extraordinary private residences.”