At first glance, the Chambord Apartments resemble a tiered wedding cake, with its lacy architecture and curving balconies. And who wouldn't be inclined to think of love and romance in this captivating city? After all, as the saying goes, “I left my heart in San Francisco.”
The structure is a lovely match with its historic surroundings: Nob Hill has been a desirable address since the Gold Rush era, when San Francisco's now iconic cable cars opened up the hilltop location to development. It proved irresistible to wealthy San Franciscans who built their mansion retreats to be, quite literally, above the waterfront riffraff.
Architect James Francis Dunn, who died before the Chambord was completed in 1921, also designed a number of other notable structures in the city. He is admired for his ability to masterfully combine different French architectural styles. And the Chambord, which was designated as a historic landmark in 1979, echoes its namesake, the ornate and elaborate Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley of France.
Architecturally, the building also claims certain elements of the Parisian Beaux-Arts style—particularly with its domed, projecting façades and decorative flourishes. Carved faces crown the portal windows, and stacked oval living rooms provide panoramic views.
But the structure's more wavy, undulating forms may also tip a hat to the marvel works of visionary architect Antonio Gaudí, whose curvy, surreal, Art Nouveau/Expressionist apartment buildings can be seen in Barcelona, Spain.
Today, the Chambord is only a hilly hop, skip, and jump from such area treasures as the cable car museum, Huntington Park (home to the famous Fountain of the Tortoises, a Roman replica), and Grace Cathedral Episcopal Church, which is the West Coast's largest cathedral.