I was there . . .
by Leif Hatlen, July 2019
1484 22nd Avenue, photo taken in 1940, just prior to my parents' purchase.
Carlson/Hatlen Photo Collection #94
An important part of my life was our family home—1484 22nd Avenue in the Sunset District of San Francisco. This is where I, my brother, and sister were raised and home to my parents until they died. And after my mother’s death, my sister lived there until her death in 2002. This house was synonymous with our family. I remember seeing a letter from my cousin Hans Martin in Norway, asking ‘How were things at 1484?’
May 18 1941—Mom, Leif, and Dad at Leif's Christening. On the front steps of 1484 22nd Avenue.
Carlson/Hatlen Photo Collection # 480
My parents purchased the house in 1941 soon after my birth. At the time, our family was living in an apartment at 18th Avenue and Judah Street in the Sunset District. As my mother would tell it, after my birth she was anxious to buy a house. It was important to her. Father was more reluctant and cautious. He was never one to rush into anything. Mother said he wanted to wait and buy a new home, maybe even one that he was building at the time. (at this time he was working as a carpenter for Harry Christianson who was building homes in the Sunset District.) Mother did not want to wait and later would tell me that she would take me, in my baby buggy, for walks in the Sunset District looking for homes for sale. And eventually she found one and convinced father that they should buy it. Mother said that since they had been married, she had saved up the down payment from her working.
December, 1941—Leif and the Christmas tree.
Carlson/Hatlen Photo collection #483
The house had been built in 1925 (according to Zillow), and during the depression it had been sold to the state for non-payment of taxes.
The house can be described as a typical San Francisco five room, semi-detached row house. It was facing west on a slight rise so that there was a view of the Pacific Ocean from the living room. At the time of purchase, the upstairs of the house consisted of a living room (the front part of the house), dining room, kitchen, breakfast room, bathroom, and two bedrooms. The downstairs was for parking of a car but had a darkroom that had been built by a previous owner but was otherwise unfinished. There were twin tubs for washing clothes. In later years my father built two bedrooms and a bath in the downstairs as was typical in many of the San Francisco row houses.
My parents paid $5,000 for the house and the financing was $600 as a down payment, a loan of $3000 from the Home Owners Loan Corporation, a Federal agency (first deed of trust), and a second loan of $1400 from a J. F. DeMartin (not known if this was the seller or not). The monthly payment was to be $47.64 which I would assume to be for both loans.
In 1941 the assessed valuation of the property was $2240 (land was $740 and the improvement $1500).
At this time, father was working as a carpenter and mother was at home caring for me. A typical family of the time. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly rate for a journeyman carpenter in San Francisco in June 1940 was $1.303 per hour. Based on the then prevalent 44 hour week, a carpenter’s weekly salary would be $57.34. Due to holidays, rain, time without work a carpenter would probably work a total of 46 weeks per year. Thus an annual income would be about $2600 per year ($57.34/wk x 46 weeks = $2,637.64/year) or an average of $220 per month. At a monthly payment of $47.64, my parents were spending about 20% of their monthly income for the house, which is a very typical percentage.
My parents were able to pay off the loans by 1949, which I think was a relatively short time. On the occasion of paying off the loan the family—my parents, myself, brother Roald, and sister Patricia—went out for dinner at the Cliff House. It was a very important occasion for the family.
In 1960 my parents had the home declared as their homestead. The papers were prepared by their good friend Alfred Nelson. I am not sure what the purpose of declaring a homestead was or what protections it might have offered.
In 2014 the property sold and Zillow reported the sales price at $1,072,000. I wonder what my parents would have thought of living in a million dollar house.
1484 22nd Ave, San Francisco, CA 94122
3 beds 2 baths 1,100 sqft
Sold on 07/31/14
Not your average Sunset home! If you've been looking for a wonderful Spanish Mediterranean style home in the avenues, and also crave natural light and a bustling neighborhood strip to walk to, you've found it! Detached on three sides, this elegant house is filled with light, beautiful period details and a fantastic, highly walkable Sunset location. A great floor plan adds to the mix, w/ 2 spacious bedrooms and 1 bathroom up plus the flexibility of three highly usable bonus bedrooms and bathroom down with interior access. Welcome home!
From Zillow accessed December 26, 2014
Escrow closing statement for the purchase of 1484 22nd Avenue, February 27, 1941.