A 1950s home tour: See inside a small house in San Francisco

A 1950s home tour See inside a small house in San Francisco

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I don’t know why this older couple — my great-grandparents, in fact — had these photos taken of their home in the mid-fifties, but I’m glad they did.

Take a look around their small house, a “junior five” near San Francisco (a home that has an entry stairway that starts at garage level and leads up to five rooms), from the upstairs bedroom to the garage. [The actual home shown in the color photos below was in San Bruno, just south of SF.]

How much have property values changed? In 1940 and 1941, these houses were selling for between $5,000 and $5,350 — when you account for inflation, that’s right around $100,000 in today’s dollars.

Of course, that’s not how real estate really works. So I looked it up, and as of 2018, the home seen in the newspaper photo below was apparently worth a cool $1.2 million in the hot San Francisco housing market.

Junior Five Homemaker's Home at 4231 Pacheco Street in San Francisco - 1940

MORE: Tips to remodel your home’s exterior without spoiling its 1950s style

The new Junior Five homes

As the newest development in home construction, the Associated Realty Company and J. Arvid Johnson & Son, builders, today are opening for public inspection of the trim Junior Five “Homemaker’s Home” at 4231 Pacheco Street.

It has been furnished by R. Knight & Sons.

Built for “practical people who count their pennies,” this attractive two-bedroom home rises in the second unit of a fast-growing area near the beach.

“Since introducing the Junior Five several months ago,” said Bert Conroy of the realty firm, “we have encountered considerable difficulty in building homes fast enough to undertake a public showing. This is the first time that we have had a variety of this new type of home available for inspection.”

A Junior Five home reduces the area devoted to the preparation and serving of food with the use of a dinette in lieu of a dining room. The saving in space, it is added, means savings in price.

It has a spacious living room with fireplace, large windows and various other popular features.

From The San Francisco Examiner (San Francisco, California) – October 5, 1940

A 1950s home tour: The living room

Featuring a fancy new television set!

A 1950s home tour - A small house in San Francisco - Living room with TV - Click Americana

A 1950s home tour - A small house in San Francisco - Living room - Click Americana

A 1950s home tour: The kitchen & dining area

This little kitchen has yellow tile and red accents, wallpaper with cherries and strawberries, plus a white range.

MORE: See inside Bing Crosby’s house from 1950 for some classic celebrity style

A 1950s home tour - A small house in Francisco - Kitchen - Click Americana

A 1950s home tour - A small house in San Francisco - Vintage kitchen - Click Americana

A 1950s home tour - A small house in San Francisco - Kitchen table - Click Americana

MORE: How to be a perfect ’50s housewife: Love your refrigerator!

A 1950s home tour: The bedroom

With a pink bedspread and a doll wearing cream satin. (The walls were solid color — the photograph has age spots.)

A 1950s home tour - A small house in San Francisco - Bedroom - Click Americana

ALSO SEE: Tour the ultimate mid-century modern house: The Scholz Mark 58 Home of the Year

A 1950s home tour: The washing machine

This laundry area — featuring a Kenmore washer — was apparently connected to the garage or was on the basement level.

A 1950s home tour - A small house in San Francisco - Laundry room - Click Americana

A 1950s home tour: The garage

The single-car garage features a Nash Metropolitan car in red and white, with a license registration year of 1956.

A 1950s home tour - A small house in San Francisco - Garage with Nash car - Click Americana

ALSO SEE: 130 vintage ’50s house plans used to build millions of mid-century homes we still live in today

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Comments on this story

16 Responses

  1. hello i am just amazed at the doll she has in the bed i was wondering if there is anyway i can buy that doll from you with any price ! i am a doll collector amd ot would mean the world to me if i cam buy that doll from you is there anyway you have conncetions to get that dol ??

    thank yoyu

    1. I grew up in the 50’s. The doll was most likely made by her or a friend. During that time, ladies handmade these. I have a bride doll I won at the elementary school cake walk. He dress is satin with pearls and lace. All handmade. the mother’s made them as prizes for the cakewalk, etc. So much detail.

    1. Thank you so much for the note! and I’m really glad you liked the photos – and that they brought back happy memories for you. :-)

  2. I was wondering if the photos were taken because they recently purchased the house? She is dressed so nice and her coat has the big corsage. It’s a beautiful place!

  3. Comparing this to similar family photos that I have, I’d bet they were celebrating their 50th anniversary. Doesn’t exactly explain the house photos but maybe they were just proud of their house and happened to have a camera handy.

  4. Looks like down sizing to me. Much of the furniture isn’t new, while the house is. Empty nesters, retired and sold the old home to move into a smaller place in town perhaps.

  5. I absolutely love the 50’s film/video. Seeing all the old/vintage cars was so interesting and for me I really love the fashion of that time era.

    Thank for having this film/video on here for people to enjoy!!😊💗💗

  6. Today, there is so much phoniness going around. People want to live large. By the time devorce comes around the McMansion is a lonely old barn. These smaller houses were easy to maintain and cozy to sit back and play some cards or watch a little bit of TV. We have lost our way. The United States are floundering around like fish out of the water. Too many toys. Cell phones make it real easy to screw around. And we do. Kids? What kids? Who really cares about kids anymore? I mean they are all rocket scientists aren’t they?

  7. My parents’ house, a Cape Cod built in 1941 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, had just 960 square feet on the ground floor. Two bedrooms, one bath, and a walk-through dining room between the kitchen and living room (but did have an attic and full basement).

    I’m always amused that young people buying in the neighborhood consider them “starter homes.” Our house was a “starter” through “empty nester” all in one. My parents were frugal and focused on paying it off. It cost $6,000. Their mortgage was $48 a month, but they paid $56 a month and paid it off in just 10 years, thanks to the overtime my dad made in WWII. We had so much less, and we were so much happier.

  8. Because of the flower arrangements sitting around the house, as well as their pose by the TV, if this was a very special occasion…like perhaps their 50th wedding anniversary. She is wearing a cosage on her coat, so perhaps going out for their celebration. Love all the photos.

    1. It was definitely a special occasion; I was thinking perhaps Mother’s Day. Back in the day, everyone got dressed up to go to church on Mother’s Day, and the mothers/grandmothers always got corsages.

  9. I totally agree with the comments made referencing the possibility of the 50th anniversary celebration relative to the reason for the photos, the floral arrangements and the woman’s corsage, all tied up with gold colored ribbon bows. That would have made perfect sense considering the theme of the photos at the time. The older gentleman is obviously wearing a shirt and tie that seems to be above the usual daily wear style, and everything around them seems to give the entire home such a feeling of above and beyond “house proud” so common to the era. It’s obviously a very special occasion rather than just a few ordinary color snapshots taken “just becsuse.” Given that probability, it’s amazing that this couple were together since the beginning of the century, and have seen and lived the entire experience from the beginnings of automobile development, flight, electricity and plumbing inside homes, insulation of homes, central heating, air conditioning development, the fighting of two world wars, and several smaller conflicts, the birth and growth of their families to adulthood, plus their grandchildren likewise.
    Numerous other developments of civilization in this country in their time on the planet. Not to mention countless medical advances, that have continued to be refined in the decades since! What an amazing time to be alive!

    1. And the best part is, they lived long enough to see the peak, but not long enough to see the decline – their once-great country and their hard work steadily eroding away…
      It’s now up to us to hold fast to what made us great and fight decadence! If we let go of our roots we have nothing to win and everything to lose to ascedant countries like the PRC.

  10. This house reminds me of my grandparent’s home and all of the happy memories associated with visiting them. I love this house and the sweet photos of your great grandparents. Thank you for sharing.

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