(320/11) 750 O’Farrell Street; Cristobal Apartments. Apartment building with forty-seven two- and three-room units; 4B stories; brick structure; giant bracketed iron balcony, galvanized iron cornice, masks in upper level piers, fretwork band across base; two-part vertical composition; Renaissance/Baroque ornamentation; vestibule: marble floor and wainscoting; lobby: marble steps and wainscoting, art nouveau heads with cornucopias; signs: “Cristobal Apartments” flank entry; alterations: security gate. Original owner: Franklin Realty Company. Architect: August Nordin. 1913.
The Cristobal’s fanciful ornamentation was a hallmark of its designer, Swedish-born San Francisco architect August Nordin (1869–1936). Dynamic balcony brackets, repetitive geometric patterns, and Art Nouveau heads that frame the upper windows all combine to create a jewel box effect that is as charming as it is unusual.
“Cristobal (detail)” (2007)
According to the January 1936 issue of Architect and Engineer, Nordin designed over 300 structures, including single family residences, flats, apartment houses, the Swedish American Hall (1907), the Altamont Hotel in the Mission District (1912), the Windeler Apartments on Ellis Street (1915), the building at Hyde and Beach that is home to the famed Buena Vista Cafe (1911), and the beautiful Trinity English Evangelical Lutheran Church that was destroyed in the 1906 fire.
Trinity Church, 1905. Nordin’s original hand-colored architectural plan as published in the November 1905 issue of American Architect and Building News. The church was at 2131 Mission Street.