Alhambra Apartments


“Alhambra” (2007)

(302/12) 860 Geary Street; Alhambra Apartments. Apartment building with forty-one two- and three-room units. 6B stories; steel frame and reinforced brick structure; stucco and polychrome terra cotta Moorish arches at base and upper level, arched windows in second to fourth floors, upper loggia, penthouse, dome; 3-part vertical composition with penthouse; Moorish ornamentation; vestibule: Moorish arch entry, tile steps and floor, marble walls, decorative clerestory and ceiling, wood doors; lobby: fantasy lobby; signs: bronze plaques flank entry with “Alhambra 2-3 room Apartments”; alterations: security gate. Original owner: August F. Schleicher, interior decorator and capitalist. Architects: Dunn and Kearns. 1913.

Most striking of the three Tenderloin buildings designed by James Francis Dunn is the Alhambra. According to local legend, its most famous tenant was Rudolph Valentino, who used the penthouse and dome as his San Francisco playhouse, where he could frolic with his paramours away from the bright lights and prying eyes of Hollywood.


Upper loggia, penthouse, and dome. (2007)


Filed under Local Characters, Tenderloin

6 responses to “Alhambra Apartments

  1. Kurt

    I had the good fortune to live in the penthouse apartment from 1991 to 2008 and always loved it. We rented it from a newspaper ad in 1991 for what was then the exorbitant price of $1550 a month. Even though we thought the neighborhood was a bit dicey to pay that kind of money we wanted it the moment we saw the interior. It encompasses 2400 sq. ft. with the living room and two large bedrooms surrounding a glass ceiling atrium measuring about 15×30 feet. Some of the Moorish detail remained in that room, but had been repainted over the years so was not as ornate as the lobby. I did a little paint removal down several layers to discover that it had originally been more like the lobby. There is a wrap around terrace on 3 sides that we filled with plants and had doors off the two very large bedrooms and living room. The living room is as big as the atrium and has a wood burning fireplace. The decor however was French empire rather than Moorish and the dome was not open into the living room as I suspect it once was. There were two full baths and a third bedroom that were constructed sometime after the building was constructed in 1914 as the penthouse originally took up the entire floor, the elevator opening directly into it. At some later date the floor was divided to make a much smaller apartment and elevator lobby. It was always a great party place and I throughly enjoyed the 17 rent controlled years that I lived there.

  2. Daniel

    I used to live there and it was always fun to have people over. The apartments themselves are pretty standard, although I’ve never been in the penthouses – I’m sure they are remarkable.


      I lived there for four years, and once sold an armchair to a resident of one of the two penthouses. I did see the inside briefly. Although large, it was not as architecturally ornate as the lobby, or maybe just not decorated very elaborately by the tenant. My memory is that it was nice but not stunningly lavish.

  3. I can see this building from my window at work. I have always been curious about the history of it. I would love to see the interior someday, including the penthouse. : )

    • I didn’t have a camera when I saw it, but I can tell you that the building’s interior is stunning, although I couldn’t get into the penthouse. If you’re interested, most of the lobby is visible through the front door after dark.

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