Tong Residence

Tong Residence, 1235 Broadway Street, San Francisco, California.

Designed by Terry Tong in 1955


Terry Tong graduated from UC Berkeley in 1949. Tong studied with professor Harold Stump and Erich Mendelsohn.  The local firm of Campbell & Wong recruited him when he graduated, where he did most of the firm’s renderings. Tong later established his own practice, and after a number of years worked for Bechtel as head of their design unit. Significant projects include facilities for the On Lok Health Program and partnering with Allen Fong to win the competition for the Governor’s mansion (unbuilt) for Pat Brown.


The Tong family house is an unassuming but finely wrought small house perched on top of the Broadway tunnel on Russian Hill. With it’s flat front, recessed entrance, and painted shingle exterior, the house looks similar to many post-war single family houses in San Francisco, but upon closer inspection the care and attention to detail and proportion show through.


Of all the buildings photographed, I was most able to match the perspective of the draughtsman’s rendering here. The next door buildings are little changed from the view the young architect chose to envision his house a half-century ago. The Tong house is amazingly accurate as-built to the perspective drawing. The only exceptions are shingle in place of the shiplap siding as drawn, and the addition of minor adjustments - mail slots cut in the wall near the garage and entrance. The single ornamental flourish, a triangular copper and glass entry way wall sconce, has weathered to a fine patina and perfectly embodies the simplicity and care taken with the residence as a whole.