November 23, 2015

2067 UNITED STATES (California) - The Painted Ladies from San Francisco

Painted ladies is a term in American architecture used for Victorian and Edwardian buildings painted in more colors that enhance their architectural details. The term was first used for San Francisco Victorian houses by writers Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen in their 1978 book Painted Ladies - San Francisco's Resplendent Victorians. Since then the term has also been used to describe groups of colorful Victorian houses in other American cities.

About 48,000 such houses were built in San Francisco between 1849 and 1915, and many were painted in bright colors. While many of the mansions of Nob Hill were destroyed by the 1906 earthquake, thousands of more modest houses survived in the western and southern neighborhoods. During WWI and WWII, many of them were painted battleship gray with war-surplus Navy paint. Another 16.000 were demolished, and many others had the Victorian decor stripped off or covered it.

In 1963, the artist Butch Kardum began combining intense blues and greens on the exterior of his Italianate-style Victorian house. Some neighbors began to copy the bright colors, and Kardum became a color designer, and he and other colorists such as Tony Canaletich, Bob Buckter, and Jazon Wonders transformed dozens of gray houses into Painted Ladies. By the 1970s, the colorist movement had changed entire streets, and this process continues to this day.

One of the best-known groups of Painted Ladies is the row of Victorian houses at 710-720 Steiner Street, across from Alamo Square park, in San Francisco. It is sometimes known as "Postcard Row." The houses were built between 1892 and 1896 by developer Matthew Kavanaugh, who lived next door in the 1892 mansion at 722 Steiner Street. This block appears very frequently in media and mass-market photographs of the city.

About the stamps
The first stamp is part of the definitives series American Design (2002-2007), about which I wrote here. The second and the fourth stamps are part of the commemorative series Go Green, about which I wrote here. The third stamp, depicting California Quail (Callipepla californica) and California poppy (Eschscholzia californica), the bird and the flower of the state of California, is part of the series State Birds and Flowers, about which I wrote here.

Painted Ladies - Wikipedia

Sender: Denise 
Sent from Greenvale (New York / United States), on 10.11.2015
Photo: John Bahu

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