House Portrait: Folsom Street Skull House

Skull HouseAmid all the predictable (if tedious) gnashing-of-teeth one hears about the transformation of Bernal Heights from the working class enclave it was a few decades ago to the middle class oasis it is today, it’s nice to find some pockets of downmarket freakishness that are still rough-around-the-edges, despite the passage of time.

Here’s a good example: The Skull House, midway up the hill on Folsom, on Bernal’s north slope.

Skull House
Images by Telstar Logistics

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13 Responses to House Portrait: Folsom Street Skull House

  1. chuck b. says:

    This house stopped me in my tracks the first time I walked by it several years ago, but this new skull embellishment seems almost mainstream. And the gnomes?! WTF? This is the Disney version.

    Who lives here anyway, and what’s their story?

  2. Wondering says:

    I’m curious as well, this house is across the street from me. There’s a scary mannequin with a mask on the second floor as well.

  3. Groder says:

    I love this house–they celebrate trash day with a banner every Wednesday.

  4. Elsa says:

    Awesome blog. I remember passing this house every day. But I disagree that Bernal is a middle-class neighborhood. I’d love to live there still, but it’s not affordable unless you have secret money or a deep legacy of rent control, or you bought property decades ago. So I guess I’m another tedious complainer.

  5. Pingback: Home Improvements at the Skull House | Bernalwood

  6. cfs says:

    the house gave me nightmares when I was a schoolkid across the street at ICE…its still amazing though. agree on the mainstream comments – it was cooler/genuinely spookier back then (15 years ago)

  7. There’s nothing glamorous or interesting about people who trash and ruin a beautiful old Victorian.

  8. thingmaker says:

    …I’m following along attentively… Yep. Uh huh…
    “…beautiful old Victorian.” No. 3272 was built as a shack circa 1900. It was jacked up and had a new front 15′ added 10-20 years later… It was never more than vaguely Victorian and never, ever, beautiful. Some guys bought it in the late ’70s and did a haphazard interior facelift… Those of us who occupy it now have kept the rain out, replaced the plumbing, upgraded the electrics and added a few hundred feet of bookshelves…
    Aside from a re-roofing – when funds are available – and a nice faux occult symbol for the garage door – when I feel like wasting the time… It’s not likely to get more beautiful either.
    I kinda like those elves, myself…
    From Scenic Skullhouse (Church of Santa)

    • Todd_Lappin says:

      Awesome. Love your house!

    • Nina says:

      Dear Thingmaker,

      I’m excited to see you posting to bernalwood! I am one of your neighbors, across the street and down a bit, and have been very curious about you and your house!

      Did you put up the skull and “skull house” sign, or was it there when you moved in? How long has it been the “skull house”? Why don’t you put up an elaborate display for halloween? I also make things, what kinds of things do you make? How many people live in skull house? I somehow never see anyone coming or going, is there a secret entrance/exit? Why isn’t skull house likely to get more beautiful?

      Thanks!

    • Out of interest, are you the owners? And I take back my “ruin” but still stand by my “Victorian” seeing as she was still alive in 1900.

  9. thingmaker says:

    Hi Nina…
    The original skulls were imperfect plaster castings left over from a project (decorations for a Halloween wedding). I put them up over the door in the early ’90s. Around ’99 or 2000, someone carried a couple of milk crates up from the corner store in the middle of the night – stood on them and broke the window to steal the crappy plaster castings…
    One of my early roomies (late-’90s) had mentioned that a friend from work knew of our house and on learning that he lived here had said “You live in the skull house? That place is evil!” … Naturally when I replaced the broken pane with the current acrylic sheet, I had to use the name… Skullhouse.
    I’m too lazy to do up special displays for holidays. I barely remember most holidays and the only one I celebrate is Trash Day, which happens weekly. You will note that the Trash Day banner is very simple and hasn’t been improved in years.
    The present shotgun-cherub was intended as a Valentines Day display. Again, laziness has caused it to become semi-permanent.
    There are currently and probably perpetually, four of us in Skullhouse + the pets.
    It’s worth explaining that “thingmaker” began in ’96 as a “handle”. I was involved then with friends trying, rather fitfully, to start a company connected with tabletop role-playing games -for which I built props and diaramas. I have always made that sort of thing for my own role-playing sessions. As my favorite RPG genre is horror – Call of Cthulhu being the current system – I have lots of horror related props. Stuff like my fake jackal-mummy winds up shoved up in the front windows – on and off.
    Until I complete tunneling operations, there is only one exit to the street…

  10. Nina says:

    Thanks for all this information! It is very satisfying to know the real history of your house. I wonder how long it’ll be before my kids start asking me about it. I wonder if I will tell them the truth, or the elaborate story that is in my head from before I knew all these things :)

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