Clio Logo

These two homes are considered to be the oldest in the Mission District and were two of the earliest buildings constructed in San Francisco. The plots that these two hands stand on were given out as part of the Francisco Guerrero land grant following the Mexican War of Independence. This plot found its way to Torbio Tanforan and his wife Maria de los Angeles Valencia in 1896.


  • A shot of one of the cottages from the side.

The two houses have maintained their original Classical Revival facades. Though very nearly identical in appearance, they were not constructed at the same time; 214 Dolores is said to have been built a little before 1853, with 220 being built not long after. There is still a small carriage house behind 220 Dolores - occupied as late as 1940 by one of the Tanforan carriages. 

Torbio Tanforan and his wife didn't use the houses themselves, they gave them to their daughter Mary and were handed down from sister to sister until 1952. According to their obituaries, Torbio and his wife lived somewhere on Well Street. 

In 1995, 220 Dolores was purchased by Dolores Street Community Services. It opened as a facility for homeless men and women living with disabling HIV and AIDS. Originally called Hope House, it was later renamed when a neighbor (Richard M. Cohen)-who died of AIDS-donated a significant portion of the funds for the renovation. 

San Francisco Landmark #67 Tanforan Cottage 1. Noe Hill. Accessed May 14, 2017. http://noehill.com/sf/landmarks/sf067.asp.

San Francisco Landmark #68 Tanforan Cottage 2. Noe Hill. Accessed May 14, 2017. http://noehill.com/sf/landmarks/sf068.asp.

Casey, Cindy. Architectural Spotlight: The Tanforan Cottages. Untapped Cities. August 06, 2012. Accessed May 14, 2017. http://untappedcities.com/2012/06/08/architectural-spotlight-the-tanforan-cottages-3/.