781fbe3a-b6dd-4b1b-86e3-74b6754aff3dOn a recent Pacific Heights walking tour I found myself standing atop Lafayette Park. As I admired the spectacular view, the guide told an unfamiliar story about a mansion that once occupied this hill. The building is long gone now, of course, but its history is a wild one.

Here’s the story: Samuel Holladay, respectable Gold Rush era citizen and pillar of society, had legally stolen this beautifully situated hilltop. He was a squatter… and even better, had successfully defended the property against the City of San Francisco for over thirty years! Needless to say, after the tour I made a beeline to the sixth floor of the San Francisco Public Library.

It seemed so unlikely; what bizarre circumstances could have led such a distinguished character to take such a seemingly scurrilous action? The great thing about our city’s history is that once you’ve seized a single thread, it can take you anywhere — and this one went all over the place. In today’s podcast I will untangle the story of Samuel Holladay, the king of Holladay Hill.

Holladay’s photo supplied by Jonathan Oppenheimer