My favorite house in San Francisco, at least from the outside, is a small single story house built in the classical style. It is a small cottage, built as a classical temple. It is dwarfed by the neighboring buildings which were built years after it was built.
I suspect that when it was built (circa 1860) it was the only house in the area. The buildings on either side date from about 30 to 50 years later. I can easily imagine this little classical temple as the ideal “primitive hut” as idealized by the French architect Antoine Laugier, a rural escape for some San Francisco merchant, perhaps.
This little temple home follows in a noble tradition of building little temples for living that started in the 18th century. The French architect Antoine Laugier wrote a book of architectural theory that speculated about the origins of architecture. The book was so influential it is still in print.
The illustration above shows the muse of architecture directing humanity to the origins of classical architecture. The idea is that the characteristic forms of classical architecture are rooted in nature (and therefore superior to other architectural styles).
Similar little temples for living have been built in different places and at different scales ever since.
But the little temple in San Francisco is smaller than most and really makes the most of the classical language to give it’s diminutive size some stature and dignity.by