SF french chateau Photo: Philip/Flickr

The Hunter-Dulin Building at 111 Sutter Street in the heart of San Francisco’s Financial District is a stately Renaissance Revival high-rise completed in 1926. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 25-story goliath is the only building in the city with French chateau-style ornamentation.

Renaissance Revival architecture was popular in the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century, and encompasses a wide range of styles based on many types of Renaissance buildings. While Italian-influenced structures were popular, Hunter-Dulin Building designer Leonard Schultze was inspired by France’s “chateaux” — large French country houses or castles. In the late 1800s, the shopper’s paradise of 5th Avenue in New York City was lined with similar buildings.

While the National Broadcasting Company, better known as NBC, had an office in the Hunter-Dulin Building from 1927 to 1942, the building’s most famous tenant was fictitious — it was the setting for an office scene in the classic 1941 film “The Maltese Falcon,” starring Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor.

During the 1970s, San Francisco passed earthquake-safety building codes that required exterior ornamentation to be attached securely to buildings. As a result, 20 copper spires were removed from the roof of the Hunter-Dulin building. More recently, the structure was completely restored and renovated between 1999 and 2001 for a total cost of $23 million.

Today, you can go inside the building and take a free 10-minute tour of this beautiful and unique corner of San Francisco history.

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