Cliff House

I randomly came across this image, below, of Adolph Sutro‘s now-lost Cliff House, perched on the rocks outside San Francisco. It stood for eleven years, from 1896-1907, before being destroyed by fire.

[Image: The Sutro Cliff House, San Francisco].

This gallery of images is extraordinary; the house is so badly situated on its site that it appears simply to be hovering over the rocks on an artificial ground plane. It’s like a continental afterthought, the dream of western architecture pushed beyond its ability to retain anchorage. But it’s a cinematic sight, to say the least.

For more about Adolph Sutro, meanwhile, don’t miss the wave motors of California.

7 thoughts on “Cliff House”

  1. I've always loved this building. It seemed so magical. Like Henri Cartier-Bresson's photograph of Brie (the dirt road that travels back through the parallel double line of trees). The over-the-top man-made structure in nature seems so fantastical.

  2. Wow! Like a scene from one of the Lemony Snicket books. Totally inappropriate and infeasible for its site but makes for great theatre. This reminds me of a magazine ad a few years back for Trex decking featuring a multi-level deck with gazebo perched on a wave-pounded cliff. Alas, it was (very skillfully) faked with miniature modeling and photo editing.

  3. What an incredible house and "scene capturing" photograph! I have to say, it reminds me think I'm inside the scene of an old, classic scary movie!

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