“Atelier” by Antonio Martins (Photo: Drew Kelly)
What would Spring be without the San Francisco Decorator Showcase?
The home for this year’s showcase was the “Herbst Manor” on 2800 Pacific Avenue, built in 1899 by English-born architect Ernest Coxhead, who had originally started his career in California designing churches, but later focused on residential architecture that included townhouses and large homes in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Berkeley.
Coxhead built the Georgian-style home for Mrs. Sarah Spooner who was a transplant from Philadelphia and an avid art collector, and whose handsome budget allowed for only the best European craftsmen and finest materials. But only years later before the 1906 earthquake, real estate investor Herman Shainwald and his wife Matilda purchased the residence. In 1914 it changed hands once again and became the long time family home of Union Iron Works’ president John A. McGregor and his heirs.
In 1967 furniture store chain owner Adrian Herbst Gruhn and his wife, Jazz singer Lee Herbst Gruhn acquired the grand 19th century home and gave it a bit of a late ‘60s / ‘70s makeover, loaded with Mrs. Herbst Gruhn’s exuberant style. It was exhibited with endless walls of mirrors, gold paint, bejeweled carousal horses and stuffed animals. Mrs. Herbst Gruhn was also known as a consummate hostess, entertaining society and royalty alike.
Once again her home was transformed by 27 designers who set the stage for a month-long slew of parties, including the patron and opening galas attended by supporters of the showcase’s beneficiary San Francisco University Highschool and noted design connoisseurs.