Pelton Homes : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

I give tours of the Haight Ashbury district......there are several "Pelton Homes" on my route on Lyon St.....can anyone direct me to the story behind Pelton and his intent with the homes? Who was he? Where can I find materials on him?


Joe Lord

-- Joe Lord (, January 21, 2002


I know this answer to this question because I was familiar with the first public school teacher in San Francisco who was the father of the architect who designed the Pelton homes. John C. Pelton, the father of the architect, came to San Francisco in October of 1849 from Massachusetts and a few months later set up the first free grammar school which had 150 pupils where he was paid $500 per month from the city treasury. Any school teacher in San Francisco who has been here for awhile would probably know this piece of trivia. The school was basically set up for the poor as John C. Pelton always had a big heart for the poor. As he became well known in San Francisco as the schoolteacher, he had no problems becoming the superintendant of public schools a few years later. He also wrote a book about the origin and history of the public school system in San Francisco which actually might be somewhat interesting if it touches on other areas of this city. But good luck in finding that book since it was published like sometime in the late 1850s or early 1860s.-- His son, John C. Pelton Junior, was well educated to say the least, and became an architect. He helped design many of the famous houses in San Francisco. But his father's heart for the poor also rubbed off on his son and with his architectural know how, he developed a plan whereby small cottages could be built for 1/3 to 1/4 the price of a regular house thus giving the poor and middle class a chance to afford a house. Too bad he doesn't have any descendants who could do the same today when they are selling homes today whose walls are falling apart for $500,000. These home designs by Pelton Jr. were just small cottages and he had several variations which cost a little more but if you can believe at that time in the 1880s, his cheapest home would only cost about $600 to build and that included materials and labor. Pelton Jr. also had a book published on how to build such cheap homes, the result of which was that other builders took some of his cost cutting measures, which unfortunately, didn't bring down the price of houses. It just increased the builder's profits.-- Remove * to email

-- Harry Murphy (*), February 14, 2002.

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