The Upper Haight has its own neighborhood blog, and they posted today about the Spencer House in their fair hood.
The John Spencer House was built in about 1895 (it’s hard to say for sure; the city’s building records burned in 1906), and is a shining, brilliant relic of Queen Anne architecture.
Let’s go to the directories! Where do we first see Mr. John Spencer?
Spencer John C., artificial flowers and feathers, 1024 Market, r. NW cor Mason and O’Farrell
1024 Market is where Machine Coffee & Deli is today.
Only a few years later, the store has a slightly more interesting name:
Spencer John C., proprietor The Wonder Flower and Feather Store, 1024 Market, r. 2618 Market
Spencer John C. proprietor
The Wonder Hat Flower and Feather Store, 1024 Market, r. 225 Castro
225 Castro is just a quick trip on the F line away, or a half hour plus walk.
1894 saw an an expansion of business: the store address was listed as 1024-1026-1028 Market, but Mr Spencer still lived at 225 Castro.
Finally, in 1896, we see Mr. Spencer in his new home:
Spencer John C., proprietor The Wonder Hat, Flower and Feather Store, 1024-1026 Market, r. NE cor Baker and Haight
In 1897, it looks like Mr. Spencer took on a partner, but Spencer himself is finally listed at 1040 Haight.
Spencer & Mitau (John C. Spencer and Morris Mitau) proprietors The Wonder, 1026 Market
Spencer John C. (Spencer & Mitau) r. 1040 Haight
John is listed in the 1905 and 1907 directories at 1080 Haight, but in 1908, James Costello, seeming president of O’ Connor, Moffatt & Co, has the residence, and Mr. Spencer has moved to 2140 Vallejo. O’ Connor, Moffatt & Co was later acquired by Macy’s and became Macy’s West.
This is possibly on the heels of being “burned out” by the 1906 fire, as is written up in Volume 7 of the Illustrated Milliner:
The full extent of the terrible tragedy at San Francisco can never be fully realized by any but those who passed through this awful calamity. … The entire life work and savings of many a deserving woman, who has struggled against all forms of adversity, was represented in the loss of some of their millinery shops.
The shop moves around a bit on Mission and Van Ness, but then in 1920, Alice Spencer is listed at the widow of John Spencer. An Arthur E Spencer is listed at the same address, married to a Nina, and as the manager of Wonder Millinery.
The Illustrated Milliner is a pretty awesome magazine.
In 1922 the Wonder Millinery is still at 930 Market, but Arthur E Spencer isn’t listed as a manager or milliner, but an engineer. He might not even be the same Arthur. I’d say it’s safe to say that the Spencer feather and hat empire had come to a close.