Cristobal Apartments



“Cristobal” (2004)

(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)

“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

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.


Filed under Tenderloin

3 responses to “Cristobal Apartments

  1. Thanks for this post, Nordin is one of my faves! His brackets and entrance ornamentation caught my eye as soon as I saw them in the TL. Tried to find a listing of all of his SF buildings online, but could not — do you happen to know of such a list?

    • I love Nordin’s designs, too. Have you seen the Windeler Apartments on Ellis? They’re another fine example of his work, also in the TL. As to a complete listing of his buildings, I suggest you try the AIA or San Francisco Architectural Heritage. I must say, I really enjoyed looking at your Flickr stream, especially your photos of Oakland architecture. Apparently, we share similar tastes when it comes to old industrial districts.

  2. Moses

    Nordin also designed 150 Franklin for the Franklin Realty co.

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