Discover / Haas-Lilienthal House
Save a National Treasure
San Francisco, CA
TYPE: Building
The Haas-Lilienthal House is an exuberant 1886 Queen Anne-style Victorian. | Photo: Jeff Scott
The Haas-Lilienthal House is an exuberant 1886 Queen Anne-style Victorian. | Photo: Jeff Scott
Demonstrate how the Haas-Lilienthal House can be a replicable model for re-inventing an urban historic house museum.


Like many house museums around the country, the Haas Lilienthal House has maintenance needs that far exceed the revenue drawn from its visitors. Through this project, the National Trust will bring together some of the brightest minds in historic sites stewardship to create a long-term, sustainable vision for the site to save its unique history for future generations.

National Significance

The Haas-Lilienthal House is an exuberant 1886 Queen Anne-style Victorian located in San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood. It is the city’s only intact private home of the period that is open regularly as a museum, complete with authentic furniture and artifacts. The house is also unique as a place that conveys the role of Jewish immigrants in the development of the American West.

Campaign Goals

  • Identify interpretive and marketing strategies to revitalize the Haas-Lilienthal House, increase earned income, and create a broad awareness of important stories it has to tell.
  • Ensure the long-term protection for the property by updating existing legal protections.
  • Support increased exposure of the Haas Lilienthal House by publicizing modernization efforts such as “greening” of its energy systems as well as innovative technology upgrades.

Ways To Help

Donate to our campaign to save the Haas-Lilienthal House.

Tell us why the Haas-Lilienthal House matters to you.

Posted on March 07, 2013

Written by Brian Turner, Project Manager 

Over the course of the last year, the National Trust has ensured the long-term sustainability of the Haas Lilienthal House through targeted assistance to House owner, San Francisco Architectural Heritage.  Increased visibility to the local community was a key first step.  In addition to it being compared to Betty White, and pitting its history up against Downton Abbey,  we made a House visit a key part of any itinerary to San Francisco in a National Trust travel blog.  Last fall’s Community Free Day was a tremendous success with legendary San Francisco reporter Carl Nolte urging on the community to re-discover the Site.

But most of the Trust’s work was behind the scenes.  We convened experts on heritage tourism, real property law, historic sites, and financial planning, and provided the framework for a five year business plan that will make the House a strong net revenue generator for the organization within five years. 

Specific tasks included that National Trust staff were responsible for included:

  • Providing Heritage with data and information about the operation of other house museums across the country, including business plan templates, to inform their planning process.
  • Funding and participating in a “visioning” process for the House, in which NTHP staff presented data comparing the operations at Haas-Lilienthal with the Trust’s historic sites well as house museums overall.
  • Creating a visitor survey and providing an analysis of survey results to shape a vision for House operations.

The vision for the future of the Haas-Lilienthal House synthesizes a wide variety of information from professional studies and reports as well as a collaborate visioning process held last fall with key House stakeholders.  The outcome will assist Heritage in its upcoming capital campaign to raise money for several much-needed upgrades.  Further, this process will serve as an important model for other house museums throughout the country seeking creative ways to attract new visitors and make historic sites financially sustainable. 

Donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.


Posted on November 21, 2012

Written by Brian Turner, Project Manager 

Holiday Open HouseHLHouseNews of its designation this fall as a “National Treasure” has sparked renewed interest in the Haas-Lilienthal House where support is needed most – its home town.

In his weekly column, legendary San Francisco Chronicle reporter Carl Nolte spoke of its beauty and cultural history in a primer for Free Community Day on October 21, which drew nearly 600 visitors, the majority of whom were local residents who had never been inside. 

The Treasures designation and event was also promoted by SF WeeklyJ Weekly, and FunCheapSF, which, with over 45,000 subscribers, has serious sway in determining the cultural itineraries of the many Bay Area locals.  Many thanks to Jeremy Blakeslee and Ian Boyle for donating their outstanding photography.

Drawing on the success of Free Community Day, SF Heritage will be hosting a Holiday Open House on Sunday, December 2, 2012 from 12:00PM-3:00PM at 2007 Franklin Street. Though always proudly loyal to their Jewish origins, the Haas-Lilienthal family traditionally celebrated Christmas in the House as a way of adapting to American customs and rituals. Santa will make an appearance at 2:00PM, and the historic toy trains will be on the rails. Come by and show your support!

Please check back often for additional updates thHaas-Lilienthal House. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.


Posted on August 14, 2012

Written by Brian Turner, Project Manager

Greetings from San Francisco. My name is Brian Turner, and I am the National Trust's project manager for the campaign to protect the Haas-Lilienthal House.

In its 1887 feature on the new residence of Mr. William Haas, the San Francisco News Letter declared that “beautiful residences have been erected along Franklin Street, but none finer than this one.” As a San Francisco resident and an aficionado for the city’s great Victorian-era architecture, I am thrilled to represent the National Trust on this project to ensure the survival of this remarkable property.

This week, a group of 15 will be assembling for a two-day vision and strategy retreat in San Francisco. Representatives will include staff and volunteers at San Francisco Architectural Heritage, the City of San Francisco Arts Commission, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Haas-Lilienthal family descendants, as well as the National Trust. Funded by a National Trust preservation field services grant, the group will develop a plan to guide a capital campaign to address deferred maintenance needs, build a much-needed endowment, and create a sustainable future for this one-of-a-kind historic place.

Please check back often for additional updates the Haas-Lilienthal House. Also, donate today to support the National Trust's ongoing work at this National Treasure.

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Esther Vigil Suen on September 19, 2012
My love for the Haas Lilienthal house started long ago as a classroom teacher. In 1985, I attended a workshop at Heritage and found the house to be a fascinating place to bring my students. It is a living history museum where students learn first-hand about San Francisco Victorian architecture and the history of the Haas family. I would take my students on neighborhood walks in San Francisco and they would proudly identify the numerous architectural details they had learned about from this experience. Heritage Hikes program at the Haas Lilienthal house enhances the California 3rd grade Social Studies Curriculum in many ways: It improves literacy skills by teaching architectural details and vocabulary. It is an interactive learning experience. When students visit the house they see and touch artifacts on the house tour. Students are encouraged to compare and contrast similarities and differences of what life was like for children in San Francisco over 100 years ago. Students learn about the history of San Francisco, the gold rush, the development of the city in the 1880's and the 1906 earthquake first hand. Students learn about the changes that have affected San Francisco and the need for Historic Preservation. Heritage Hikes also provides an opportunity for students to learn about map reading. When I retired from classroom teaching in June of 2000, I ran into a Heritage Hikes docent whom I recognized. I told her I retired and thanked her for all the wonderful tours over the years which my students loved. She mentioned that the fall docent training had just started and that they could use additional docents. That encouragement was all that I needed to enroll. It feels good to pay it forward and continue to be connected with Heritage and the school children of San Francisco. This house continues to connect us to the past and provides opportunities to enhance the learning experiences for future generations.
Clare Willis on September 12, 2012
I have been a docent and tour leader for third graders at the house for five years. There is nothing else like this place in San Francisco, where tourists and locals can touch and experience the history of San Francisco, told through the story of one family.
John F. Rothmann on August 23, 2012
The Haas-Lilienthal House is a very special treasure. My great-grandparents William and Bertha Haas built the house in 1886. Our children are the fifth generation to be able enjoy and cherish this very special family home. We gather in the house for family celebrations, for happy occasions, for sad occasions and to remember our roots. The preservation of this historic site goes beyond our family. Future generations will be able to have a taste of San Francisco history by walking through the house and hearing the stories, enjoying the architectural wonders and being exposed to the only Victorian open to the public in San Francisco. Whenever we walk through the front door we realize how lucky we are to be able to come home again, and we hope that will be true for those who visit the house for many, many years to come.

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