Axford Mansion

The Axford Mansion is San Francisco Landmark No. 133 and was built in 1877 by William Axford. He and his brother had immigrated to the United States from Scotland during the Civil War; utilizing their skills as metalsmiths and ironworkers, they produced cannon shot for the Northern army. William eventually moved west and settled in San Francisco. Old San Francisco city directories describe him as living in what is now the Mission District until 1877. The directory for that year records Mr. Axford as living at the “North West corner of Noe and 25th Streets.” Mr. Axford was owner of the Mission Iron Works and the Enterprise Ironworks.

The house together with the carriage house and another building to the west is an example of early rural scale development in the neighborhood. Although city records indicate this house was built when the Italianate style was popular, the square bay windows are typical of the Stick Eastlake period. The cornice brackets, panelized frieze and bay window bases are also characteristic Italianate features. The Queen Anne style porch is a later addition, as is the classical revival window molding on the southern rear face of the building. Some cornice trim may be missing from the second story windows. The carriage house retains its hay lift at the corner.

The original iron fence that still surrounds Axford House, as well as the filigreed railing that no longer graces the roof, were forged by Axford in his foundry. The furnace-hot metal was cooled by Noe Valley well water, which was carried to the surface by a previously extant windmill pump. City water was not provided to the property until 1905.

In the 19th century, Axford House was adorned with its original false Mansard roof and decorative cresting; it stood surrounding by unpaved streets and atop the Carriage House—which originally was built by Axford as a metal foundry called the Columbia Iron Works- sat a windmill used to bring water to the surface from a well on the property.

Structural changes to Axford House have been relatively minor over the 130 years since it was built. The one exception is the present day kitchen and the master bathroom above it. The foundry (Carriage House) and main house were not connected originally; the earlier kitchen occupied the dining room that is now in use. During the late 19th or early 20th Century, the upstairs bathroom and the kitchen area were added. The contemporary kitchen has been efficiently re-designed by the owners.

In the 1990’s Bradbury & Bradbury wallpapers were added, covering walls that once were adorned (and in places still are) with old decorative papers.