At Home in the Sunset
Nobody had a bigger impact on the look of The Avenues than Harry Doelger. In 1920 when the 'Outside Lands' were just sand dunes Doelger ran a hot dog stand on 7th and Lincoln Way. But Doelger had a vision, he decided that he and his brother Frank should build a few houses way out on deserted 39th Street. So in 1925 they began to offer small suburban-style homes with model names like 'The Freedom House' and 'The Stylocrat'. Sitting tightly on 25 by 100-foot lots, the homes were inexpensive, around $2,500 ($250 down and $20.00 a month), and sold like hot cakes.

By the time they were finished in the 1940s, the Doelger Brothers had built 17,000 houses in the Sunset and Richmond Districts and defined the look of the area. The ubiquitous homes became an iconic part of the city and the Sunset District was sometimes referred to at "The White Cliffs of Doelger." Pictured above is the very first Doegler built, located at 1427 39th Avenue.

Doelger's success (net worth of $75 million) led to other builders following his lead. The most notable was Oliver Rousseau whose popular ornate and quirky homes can be found mixed among the Doelgers in the Sunset District. Rousseau homes were a little bit fancier, they came in French Chateaux, Tudor Timber, and Spanish Castle styles. Many of these charming homes feature a central open-air atrium which brings light into the middle of the home.
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