The History Behind the Spreckels Mansion

Posted On: June 15, 2017
By: Matt Fuller

Maybe best-known as the home of Danielle Steel, the Spreckels Mansion has plenty of history behind it. The mansion is located at 2080 Washington in Pacific Heights, across from Lafayette Park. Here’s a look at one of the most incredible mega-mansions found within the city.

The Spreckels Family Story

The Spreckels family is one of the oldest found in San Francisco and dates back to 1856. Claus Spreckels brought his family to the city and started a brewery before turning to the sugar industry in Hawaii. Legend says Claus won the water rights from the King of Hawaii in a poker game.

In 1867, Claus built a sugar refinery in San Francisco but soon had to expand into a larger space. In addition to the sugar refinery, the Spreckels family opened a store, invested in the Santa Cruz Railroad, and has their hands in many other companies.

Claus and his wife Anna had 13 children, but only five survived to become adults. John, the oldest, built his fortune in San Diego in real estate, while Adolph took over the family sugar business in San Francisco. Adolph’s wife Alma became known as the great-grandmother of San Francisco and was a true rags-to-riches story.

Adolph and his wife purchased the property that would later become the Spreckels mansion. He had the home built as a Christmas present for his wife. Many nearby Victorian homes had to be bought by the Spreckels to make room for the huge mansion. Alma actually helped save eight of the structures by moving them to new locations.

The Spreckels Mansion was completed in 1912 and became the site of many incredible parties that helped to launch Alma into high society. Alma outfitted the home with many 18th-century antiques found on trips to Europe. When Alma died, the mansion was divided into four apartments. Danielle Steel later purchased the property and restored the mansion back to a single family residence.

Danielle Steel

She has said in interviews that she wrote many of her novels from a small office in her bedroom. Today, she spends plenty of time in Paris and says the city of San Francisco is a great place for raising children, but she was happy to leave it. She also feels that nobody dresses up or has style and the city is all hiking books, Tevas, and shorts.

While the mansion may not suit Steel’s taste anymore, it’s still a landmark for the city of San Francisco. It has hosted a number of lavish parties over the years and it’s steeped in incredible history.

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