Excelsior’s Princess Diaries House Keeps the Dream Alive

Anne Hathaway got her angst on in a historic Excelsior firehouse for The Princess Diaries. Go there and relive your teenage dreams!

Photo by Eric Pratt

A fictional limousine with vaguely European flags no longer drives through the Excelsior to pick up The Princess Diaries’ Mia for much-needed royalty lessons — but the restored firehouse remains there, ready to bring out our inner teenage girl.

It was there, in that former firehouse, a two-story, white-with-red-trim Mission Revival, that Anne Hathaway stole our hearts. In her breakout role as a frizzy-haired, spunky teenager who finds out her hidden identity is actually Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo, Princess of Genovia, she lived at 724 Brazil Ave. Mia in the long-running book series has several meta-complaints about the 2001 adaptation, but San Francisco can be grateful for the scene change from Manhattan.

Long before the filmmakers chose the site, Engine Company 43 occupied it — as early as 1912. The firefighters eventually moved to a new station in 1970, and the building was later sold and used as a private residence, according to the San Francisco Fire Department Museum.

In 2014, it went back on the market for $2.6 million, but the Hollywood fame only took it so far. It sold the next year for a mere $1.85 million.

But the building is far more noted as “the Princess Diaries house,” especially for women who came of age around the time of the 2001 film and who may or may not have turned the sequel’s opening weekend into their birthday party. It still looks largely the same, too. San Franciscans who wander between Mission Street and John McLaren Park shouldn’t be surprised if images of Mia sliding down fire poles before going to school, playing with her cat Fat Louie, and finding an emotional letter from her deceased father come racing back.

If the rumored third Princess Diaries film never takes flight, we’ll always have 724 Brazil Ave.

 

Read more stories from SF Weekly‘s Excelsior issue:

X Marks the Excelsior
What’s the difference between the Excelsior, Outer Mission, and Crocker-Amazon? Here’s our spreadsheet cheat sheet to these borders.

On the Outskirts But Certainly Not ‘Sleepy’
The little neighborhood at the far end of Mission Street has its fair share of news-worthy drama.

A Thrilla at Manila
Manila Oriental Market, the pan-Asian grocery at the corner of Mission Street and I-280, is a treasure.

Infinite Appetite, Finite Budget
Its main drag looks a lot like Queens, N.Y., which happens to be the most diverse place in the U.S.

Head Banned
The neighborhood nicknamed ‘Dispensary Row’ has sparked, um, a  row over zoning that’s kept new marijuana businesses away from the family-dominated district.

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