Back to News

At the Crossroads: 815 Tennessee Then and Now

Once an electrical switch factory, 815 Tennessee combines old and new to reflect the history of the Dogpatch District. As part of the modern beauty sprouting forth from a historic facade, the condos at 815 Tennessee embody the renewal and vibrancy that have come to define the neighborhood. Interiors by architects Edmonds + Lee prove their company statement that “every project explores the relationship between continuity and interruption, between seamlessness and breaks.” Their contributions to the remarkable 815 Tennessee spaces embrace every word of that philosophy. Of course, the interplay of the industrial age and a modernist palette is visible well before setting foot inside. The historic brick façade framed by sleek lines formed of wooden slats, angular window bays, and stacked architectural elements belies the forward evolution of the houses of Victorian Stick and Edwardian Craftsman styling that are the usual icons of the Bay’s cityscape.

The original 1926 structure, designed by noted architect August J. Nordin, was built to house the Bowie Electric Switch Co., inventor A.J. Bowie Jr.’s manufacturing center. While it strays from Nordin’s more pronounced classical revival style and his use of decorative cornices, it serves as a prime example of the era’s shift from heavy to light industrial manufacturing: a precursor of the transformation that was to take place in San Francisco decades later with the entrepreneurial tech boom and the birth of what we now call “Silicon Valley.” At the time of the building’s construction, Bowie was already the holder of four patents for electric switches. In a nod to his contributions and innovations, 815 Tennessee’s resident lobby features a light installation created by Oakland-based Moz Designs, formed of perforated metal panels and backlit with LEDs flowing along the wall. The historically inspired installation is evocative of the alternating current that flowed through the entirety of Bowie’s work.

Dogpatch’s mix of old and new is unparalleled in the region, providing exciting potential for transformative design concepts. The Edmonds + Lee team has risen to the occasion and showcased a daring evolution of contemporary motifs that are sure to become modern classics. 815 Tennessee’s corridors are dark and rich but warmed by their printed images of patents on bronze metal. Condo entry doors are surrounded by decorative metal that is illuminated with vertically oriented lights beckoning to the bright, well-lit, but calm interiors beyond. Floor-to-ceiling millwork in the kitchens adds texture to the spaces and captures the gilded charm of an era seemingly past. The resulting aesthetic of 815 Tennessee is bold and yet comfortably familiar.

Dogpatch real estate finds itself at a unique—and curiously enviable—crossroads of the industrial and the residential. Thankfully, the sooty smokestacks and coarse factory noises of the past are gone. In their place, discrete micro-manufacturers, master craftspeople, and cutting-edge artists are newly woven into a tapestry of urban homesteading, sustainable developments, uniquely designed spaces, and modern convenience. That’s what you’ll find at the nexus of culture, commerce, and community in Dogpatch, and at the heart of it all is 815 Tennessee.