160×600
160×600
$147.53
-0.64%
$2,638.78
+0.51%
$2,540.77
+0.03%
$3,584.85
-1.28%
$282.19
+0.41%
$342.52
-0.56%
$277.61
-0.75%
$212.12
-1.23%
$151.77
-2.37%
$168.70
+0.2%
$37.94
-2.31%
$57.35
-2.71%
$44.30
-1.57%
$248.15
-0.16%
$141.75
+0.06%

Historic SF mansion with bizarre features, even stranger history for sale


The Eureka Valley mansion nicknamed Nobby Clarke’s Folly has hit the market for $5,850,000. 

Starting as one man’s passion project, the Alfred E. Clarke Mansion at 250 Douglass St. is now 15 apartment units and a cottage. All the tenants will stay in place, said listing agent Allison Chapleau, who said the home is being sold because its long-term owner has died. 

“It’s been in the same family since the 1970s,” Chapleau said.

She added that the owner lived in the neighborhood, very close to the mansion, and “he loved it and all the tenants in it.” 

Before its previous owner took the helm of this strange mansion — notable for its baroque Queen Anne style with several turrets, gables and a unique alternating scallop and plain shingle pattern on the roof — the four-story home played many different tunes. 

The Alfred E. Clarke Mansion is for sale for $5,850,000. 

The Alfred E. Clarke Mansion is for sale for $5,850,000. 

Courtesy Allison Chapleau

It was built in 1890 by Alfred “Nobby” Clarke after he amassed a $200,000 fortune by dubious means working for the San Francisco Police Department. The house was completed in 1893 for an estimated $100,000 — approximately $2.98 million in today’s currencies. While that price may seem standard for today’s market, the humongous home was a huge expenditure for the period.



Clarke came to San Francisco from Ireland in 1850. He tried his hand at the Gold Rush before working as a longshoreman. In 1856, he joined the police force and rose in the ranks to become a clerk to the chief of police. He later went on to become one of the most litigious lawyers in San Francisco of the period. 

Here’s the funny thing about Nobby Clarke’s Folly: Clarke never actually lived there. His wife refused to leave her Nob Hill home for Eureka Valley, which was largely rural at the time. 

Clarke went on to engage in a pricey water battle with a neighbor before losing his fortune in an economic depression. He lost the house in 1896 after defaulting on the mortgage. 

The Alfred E. Clarke Mansion is for sale for $5,850,000. 

The Alfred E. Clarke Mansion is for sale for $5,850,000. 

Courtesy Allison Chapleau

The mansion’s story doesn’t end there. It would go on to be a hospital and sanitarium, as well as employee housing for Standard Oil. In 1975, it was designated as San Francisco city landmark No. 80. 


These days, the massive mansion houses many. Chapleau said it’s been “meticulously preserved” and each apartment has its own flavor, many with “incredible” views of downtown. 

“Each unit looks like its own home,” Chapleau said. 

If only Nobby could see it now. 





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