On a recent Pacific Heights walking tour I found myself standing atop Lafayette Park. As I admired the spectacular view, the guide told an unfamiliar story about a mansion that once occupied this hill. The building is long gone now, of course, but its history is a wild one.

Here’s the story: Samuel Holladay, respectable Gold Rush era citizen and pillar of society, had legally stolen this beautifully situated hilltop. He was a squatter… and even better, had successfully defended the property against the City of San Francisco for over thirty years! Needless to say, after the tour I made a beeline to the sixth floor of the San Francisco Public Library.

It seemed so unlikely; what bizarre circumstances could have led such a distinguished character to take such a seemingly scurrilous action? The great thing about our city’s history is that once you’ve seized a single thread, it can take you anywhere — and this one went all over the place. In today’s podcast I will untangle the story of Samuel Holladay, the king of Holladay Hill.

For further edification:
» Lafayette Park – GoogleMaps
» contemporary view from Lafayette Park – 360 degree panorama
» Samuel Holladay’s 1901 autobiography – Calisphere
» 1888 California Supreme Court decision
» 1895 United States Supreme Court decision – final
» map of San Francisco showing Western Addition, 1861 – David Rumsey collection
» Kim Barnes – Friends of Lafayette Park
» San Francisco Neighborhood Parks Council
» George Davidson – bio and observatory photo

musical support:
Thanks to Cameron Ember for “Intro”, Acoustic Rosh for “Almost Forgotten”, AjT for “Love Piano v2″and Piney Creek Weasels for “Off to California”. This week’s music courtesy of PodShow PodSafe Music Network.