On the market for almost a year now (beginning asking price $2,950,000 and currently listed at $1,799,000), the Albion Castle is an anomaly in San Francisco with a rich history, waiting for an eccentric buyer with vision, and a good business plan.
Despite its long history and six-story stone tower, most residents of San Francisco, even those that drive by it daily, have no idea that Albion Castle exists.
Built in 1870 by John Hamlin Burnell, a young English immigrant with plans for a brewery to supply the over 800 saloons serving the growing city. Beer was already a popular choice in San Francisco, with several local breweries already competing for business. But Burnell’s new property had a secret advantage: An underground aquifer that provided pure cold water, perfect for brewing – not to mention free. He built himself not only the work spaces for the Albion Porter & Ale Brewery, but also a castle home. Although relatively petite and built into a hillside, it features a distinctive tower built from stones pulled from cargo ship’s ballast, modeled after Norman fortifications Burnell loved back home.
Under the castle, Burnell dug out two stone cisterns, each capturing 8,000 to 10,000 gallons of spring water per day. The 200 foot pools are accessed by a cave entrance, and still provide fresh clean water today.
I’m not sure what water rights are going for today, and no doubt you’d want some stiff water quality testing done, but with the price of water selling for more than a gallon of gas these days…I’m surprised no one has made a stab at an offer.
Albion Castle [Atlas Obscura]