The refurbishment of the Victorian home of Mayor Frank Jordan and his wealthy wife of two years, Wendy Paskin, has, like the construction of Europe's finest cathedrals, required the sacrifices and toil of multitudes: painters, scrapers, yard men, roofers, interior designers, architects and color consultants (interior and exterior).
Living across the street from the work-in-progress at the corner of Pacific and Fillmore, I have made it my duty to inform my wife about the construction details each time I return home:
“I think they're going to paint the parlor beige, maybe beige with flecks of white.”
“He's home — the limo's out front.”
“I saw him in the living-room window.”
“The bay window?” my wife asks. “Or the one on the side?”
For many months, the house was shrouded in black gauze to protect its new paint job. (Or had Christo wrapped the mayor's digs to protest Matrix?) Over the course of a year, I felt that I came to know Jordan and Paskin well as I spied on them conferring with carpenters and selecting color swatches arrayed on the hood of Jordan's limousine.
I tried to crash a January open house/fundraiser — and failed — so I can't tell you what the joint looks like inside. But Lisa Zuniga Carlsen can. Carlsen, whose work has appeared in Luxury Homes of Washington magazine, cracked the story in the January issue of the Nob Hill Gazette: “The City's First Couple: Life, Liberty and Football.”
Carlsen viewed the extensive wall-to-ceiling murals: from the fantastical dreamscape in the entranceway to three bathrooms adorned with magic carpets, wild horses and a Greek god. She described “extravagant color schemes” where “yellow and reds dominate the main floor, while a broader palette of celadon, soft beige, rosy pink, cherry red, sage green and lavender sweeps through the upstairs rooms.”
“You see,” I gloated to my wife. “They used beige. I predicted they'd use beige.”
“You said beige,” she corrected. “They used soft beige.”
Carlsen was particularly drawn to the Jordans' brass door hinges and light fixtures and to various wall stencils throughout the house (gold leaves in the living room, gold violins in the music room and gold fish in the dining room). She even got to hear family secrets from the missus: “'Frank fought us on the fish …. He wanted cornucopias.”
Outside, more gold: The Jordans have hired a squadron of the city's finest painters to embellish the structure's exterior details in blinding gold. Neither scallop shells nor acanthus leaves have escaped the brush. The result, like Ivana Trump's renovation of the Plaza Hotel, is breathtaking.
Each citizen who enjoys the house from the street is, in a sense, a part owner, but only the privileged few have visited the mayor's favorite room, the kitchen (which boasts a 10-feet-by-10-feet marble island “buried in correspondence, clippings of Paskin and Jordan hanging out with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, and the like”) or the master bedroom. Here the custom-made canopy bed piled with duvets mesmerized Carlsen and prompted memories of a stage set in last season's production of the opera Otello.
Carlsen's article deftly captures the first couple's self-restraint. While a local carpenter designed the floor-to-ceiling alderwood bookcases that grace either side of the living-room fireplace, Paskin confides, “We didn't go out and buy million-dollar antiques, but [our designer] found pieces that looked as good, probably better because they're more interesting, within a mayor's budget.”
The residence was valued at $868,368 when the Jordans purchased it in June 1993, but expect that figure to rise next assessment since down the street a home, shabby by comparison, recently sold for nearly a million.
“Not bad for a career cop,” one passerby said, gesturing to the mayor's house.
“No,” agreed his companion. “Not even bad for a career criminal.