History Hero: Skeeter Jones

Skeeter Jones is waging a war to return San Francisco to the old days — the really old days. The owner of Clearheart Fine Design adds and restores old style Victorian facades on San Francisco homes.  The Victorians are a big draw for tourists, but In the 1950’s and 60’s, people were tearing down the old Victorians — or worse, replacing their intricate gingerbread and wood siding with stucco.

By the 70’s, this carpenter from New England showed up, and bored with routine work, began a life time of putting the face back on the city. Skeeter has restored about a hundred homes throughout San Francisco. He’s in high demand, but says it’s getting harder and harder to get permits to do the work. The city, protective of its historic past, wants proof the work is authentic — asking for photos of what each home really looked like. And he worries young people are not getting into this restoration business anymore.

Skeeter is really an artist, and left to create, comes up with remarkable ideas — adding corbels, transoms, and almost a 3-D look to some of the homes. We spent time with him restoring a portico to an old Victorian in the cities Mission District. He mixes fine grain cedar, plaster casts, and intricate detail on the columns and base of the work. He has a way of understanding what works with different homes. As Skeeter puts it, ” the buildings talk to you.”

And through his drawings, and his work with simple tools, he will take you back to the 1880’s when the bay windows, the gingerbread, and those magical facades defined the city by the bay. And he’s a focus of our Big Story in development now called “Heart & Soul.”  He’s one of the History Heroes saving the heart of San Francisco.


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“History Heroes” are profiles of people young and old we meet along the way sharing their love of the past.

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