BUYER: Mark Pincus
LOCATION: San Francisco, CA
SIZE: 11,500 square feet (approx.),
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: The stock price of social media game developer Zynga (CityVille, FarmVille, CastleVille, and etc.) may be plummeting at an alarming rate but its iconoclast tech-tycoon founder Mark Pincus is clearly rolling in financial clover as evidenced by his recent, $16,000,000 purchase of a rather massive mansion in San Francisco’s ultra-posh Pacific Heights ‘hood.
The essentially symmetrical, red brick and grey shingled Dutch Colonial Revival residence sits down a long, private and gated driveway on an elevated 14,000 (or so) square foot lot in an area of Pacific Heights known as the Gold Coast, so called because it’s extra fancy even for fancy pants Pac Heights. The front of the house, with a suburban 7-11 parking lot-sized motor court, is all but hidden from the street while the back of the house sits high and proud with commanding bridge, bay and city views.
Marketing materials Your Mama teased up out of the internets indicates the four-floor mansion was designed and built in 1907 by noted Bay Area architect Albert Farr and originally owned by entrepreneurial businessman Edwin W. Newhall whose family has owned it for more than a century. Mister Newhall had a debilitating stroke in 1914, at which time the awkwardly located elevator was installed, and went to meet his maker in 1915. The property passed to his widow Virginia who eventually bequeathed the behemoth house to their son Edwin Newhall Jr. (and his wife) who in turn turned the house over to their only daughter Jane who occupied the premises until her death in summer 2011 at the ripe old age of 97.
The impressive (if woody) interiors spaces retain much of their original architectural details such as wood paneled walls, herringbone pattern wood floors, exposed beam ceilings, six red brick fireplaces, period light fixtures, and diamond-paned windows.
The mansion also adheres largely to its original floor plan which, while spacious and grand, has a few uncomfortable moments not conducive to modern living. The children will note, as did our eagle-eyed house gurl Svetlana, the fairly compact, galley style main floor kitchen that Your Mama imagines may (or may not) have originally been a service pantry.
The larger, original (and adjacent pantry and “Food Prep Room”) is located on the lower level and connected to the upper level kitchen via a switchback service stair that continues to climb all the way up to the (unfinished) attic. A kitchen on the lower, service level was probably a fairly standard set up in the homes of the wealthy in 1907 when residents would have maintained a small army of domestic staff to attend to their cooking and cleaning needs but it’s not exactly how most young (and very rich) people live nowadays.
Listing information we peeped shows Mister Pincus’s new pad in Pac Heights has 7 bedrooms and 6 full and 4 half bathrooms. However, our perusal of the floor plan(s) turned up 7 bedrooms (plus two more rooms that could, if desired, be pressed into use as sleeping chambers), five full and four half bathrooms plus two additional staff areas—one in the basement the other on the third floor, each with three cell-sized bedrooms and one shared bathroom.
A wide stairway and raised front porch with six Doric columns leads to the main floor living areas that include an impressive front hall with charming, arched inglenook, a living room big enough to be a ballroom with drop dead views, a smaller library with fireplace and built-in book cases, and a banquet hall-sized dining room, also with electrifying view and massive fireplace.
The lower level service areas include the aforementioned original kitchen and trio of cell-sized staff rooms plus a wine vault, exercise room, commodious storage rooms, a big ol’ boiler room, and a laundry room large enough to make Luwanda the Laundress weep with envy. A dumb waiter in the central hall on the lower level conveniently lifts groceries and other small items to the upper levels and a narrow carport at the side of the mansion shades one or maybe two, tandem-parked cars.
The monumental master suite stretches across the entire rear of the second floor and encompasses a vast bedroom (with fireplace and spine tingling view); a sizable, separate but connected sitting room/office (also with fireplace); two walk-in closets; and direct access to—depending on how you count—1.5 or 2.5 bathrooms. Three other guest/family bedrooms on the second floor each have direct (if not entirely private) access to a bathroom.
An unusually grand staircase in a sky lit central atrium connects the second to the third floors where two more large guest/family bedrooms share a divided bathroom and a third, smaller guest/family bedroom has no direct or even convenient access to a lavatory.
Also on the third floor is a downright dee-voon family room labeled on the floor plan as “The Ship Room” due to its exposed wood architecture very closely resembling the rib-like interior hull of a wood-built ship as well as an office/sitting room (with adjoining wet bar/storage area) and three more itty-bitty staff bedrooms that share a lone bathroom.
Exterior space is somewhat limited to the over-sized motor court in the front and a slender, landscaped terrace along the back of the lower level that provides (mostly) unobstructed city, bay and bridge views. The back yard slopes precipitously to a towering brick rampart that Your Mama would be quite surprised if Mister Pincus didn’t build up for privacy and/or otherwise equip with a state of the art security system that may or may not include an armed guard or two with a nervous eye tick and a hair trigger.
The Gold Coast location of Mister Pincus’s palatial new pad does not get better when it comes to San Francisco real estate with bigwig and muckety-muck neighbors like Oracle bajillionaire Larry Ellison, social world staples Gordon and Ann Getty, University of Phoenix‘s billionaire owner Peter Sperling, social networking nabob Michael Birch, Oracle heiress Nicola Miner and her novelist husband Robert Mailer Anderson, and eco-socialite author Sloan Barnett and her nutritional supplement pusher husband Roger Barnett who dropped some big bucks last year on the lavish manse of (deceased and) deliciously eccentric international social figure Dodie Rosekrans.
Mister Pincus and his wife have been on a real estate merry go round recently having just sold not just one but two separate San Francisco residences. He took a knee-knocking $960,000 loss (not counting carrying costs, improvements and real estate fees) when he sold a highly stylized bungalow in the Cole Valley neighborhood for $1,890,000 in January (2012). In March (2012) he unloaded a far more grand, four-floor mansion with six bedrooms in the exclusive Presidio Heights ‘hood for $8,200,000. He paid $8,100,000 for the towering mansion just about 2.5 years earlier.
listing photos and floor plan: Pacific Union International