AKA: Pacific Union Club, Clubhouse #2, Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA; Flood Mansion, Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA

Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Burnham, Daniel H., and Company, Architects (firm); Laver, Augustus, Architect (firm); Daniel Hudson Burnham (architect); Augustus Laver (architect); Willis Jefferson Polk (architect)

Dates: constructed 1886

3 stories

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1000 California Street
Nob Hill, San Francisco, CA 94108-2204

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Early San Francisco architect Augustus Laver designed this brownstone mansion completed in 1886 for the mining millionaire, James Clair Flood. Flood, one of the country's richest men, spared no expense on the residence's interior, commissioning New York's elite Herter Brothers interior design firm to design its furniture and appointments.The Herter Brothers opened a San Francisco office in the 1870s to cater to the mining and railroad millionaires of the city. The well-known San Francisco banker Darius Ogden Mills (1825-1910), for example, had his New York residence at634 Fifth Avenue and portions of his Millbrae, CA, country housefurnished by the Herter Brothers in 1880-1882.In addition, Flood obtained the services of the New York artist and designer Lockwood de Forest (1850-1932) to design an "East Indian Room" for the mansion. According to historian Roberta Mayer's book on de Forest, "...the firm of the Herter Brothers was hired for much of the interior work, and it provided a design scheme inspired by the French Renaissance and the style of Louis XV." Mayer described de Forest's room as "...a spacious compartment of 40 x 26 feet and 20 feet high [it] is an inspiration to the glories of the Ganges. Everything is Indian: the teak wood carvings made in India; the curtains and doors of windows and the coverings of luxurious divans and veritable antique embroideries...." (See Roberta Mayer, Lockwood de Forest: Furnishing the Gilded Age with a Passion for India, [Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2008], p. 140.) The two periods, the former dating approximately from 1515-1643 and the latter during the reign of Louis Quinze, 1723-1774, were wide apart in time. The French Renaissance saw the importation of Italian Classical motifs into interior design, mixed with a French love of sculptural embellishment, gilding and extensively ornamented surfaces. The graceful curves of Louis XV furniture would exist harmoniously in this opulent environment.

Building History

James Clair Flood (1826-1889), a Director of the Consolidated Virginia Mining Company who grew rich during the Comstock Lode, underscored his personal wealth when he erected this Neo-classical/Italianate house on Nob Hill, close to the residences of the Big Four, Mark Hopkins (1813-1878), Leland Stanford (1824-1893) and Charles Crocker (1822-1888). Born on Staten Island, NY, Flood remembered the look and coloring of his hometown's brownstone row houses, and went to the unusual extent of shipping transcontinentally all of the facing brownstone from Connecticut quarries.

His 42-room house was one of the largest and most opulent mansions erected in the last quarter of the nineteenth century in San Francisco, CA; it also was one of two structures on Nob Hill to survive (in part) the Earthquake and Fire of 04/18-19/1906, (the other being the Fairmont Hotel that was being built at the time); the mansion's walls remained despite the destruction of its interior.

After the earthquake and fire, the Flood Mansion became reused as the clubhouse of the Pacific Union Club. This exclusive men’s club formed as the result of an 1889 combination of two elite social clubs in San Francisco, the Pacific Club (established in 1852) and the Union Club (begun in 1854). The previous clubhouse stood on the corner of Stockton and Post Streets.


The Chicago-based firm D.H. Burnham and Company was commissioned to rebuild the Flood Mansion after 1906 into the Pacific Union Club Clubhouse #2. Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846-1912) operated a branch office in San Francisco during the 1900s while he created a new master plan for the city. Cora Jane Flood (1855-1928), daughter of James Clair, sold the residence's burned shell to the elite men's club, the Pacific Union Club, in 1909. The club staged a design competition for a new clubhouse soon thereafter, with Albert Pissis (1852-1914) winning with a grandiose Beaux-Arts palazzo that was too costly to erect. (See "The Pacific Union Club Competition," Architect and Engineer of California, vol 13, no. 2, 06/1908, p. 35-43.) D.H. Burnham and Company and its local representative, Willis J. Polk (1867-1924), then obtained the job, with a brief to remodel the interior and create more rooms. Polk produced a new third floor and added eastern and western wings. To add to the remodeling's cost, all of the facing stone matched the 1880s CT brownstone.


The Flood Mansion sustained significant damage in the earthquake and fire of 04/18-19/1906. Its masonry walls remained while fire gutted the interior.

San Francisco Historic Landmark (1974-08-02): 64

National Register of Historic Places (1966-11-13): 66000230 NRHP Images (pdf) NHRP Registration Form (pdf)

PCAD id: 4489