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An Overview of the Clock Tower Penthouse

Rob Levy and Eric Turner of Compass are pleased to present a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live within San Francisco’s most visible and historic clock tower. Perched high above South Park, a burgeoning epicenter of industry and technology that embodies San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, the Clock Tower penthouse is available for purchase from its original owner who has curated it for over a quarter century.  Owning this amazing penthouse also comes with exclusive use of the top three adjoining levels, including the interior of the famous tower and the “Clock Room” itself, plus an enormous wrap-around view deck.

Imagine taking in panoramic views of The City while the sun casts a bronze glow on the brick buildings of South Beach. Host a lavish dinner party in the spacious formal gathering areas, entertain your guests on the expansive wrap-around view deck, then retire to the library for refreshments while witnessing a dazzling fireworks display over Oracle Park after a Giants victory. Move the soiree up to the game room for recreational pastimes and end the evening taking in the “Clock Room” to experience the glow within, as the sunset bathes the four clock-faces in luminance then fades to night. After dark, the iconic clock faces come to life yet again, illuminated by the tower’s eye-catching spotlights. Maintenance of the tower and the clocks themselves is conveniently done by the building’s homeowners association.

Now considered the crown jewel of the Clocktower Building, the penthouse residence presents a spacious and open living arrangement that is ideal for comfortable living, in-home work needs, and entertaining. The residence spans over 3,000 square feet and features hardwood and concrete flooring throughout, original brick and concrete walls, exposed steel structural beams, automated window shades, and fine appliances in the gourmet kitchen. Vaulted ceilings expand the dimensions, custom-built cabinetry and shelving offer abundant storage spaces, and wide walls of view windows imbue a true feeling of openness throughout the design. 

The sun-filled living room shares a glass-enclosed fireplace with the elegant formal dining room, both of which are appointed with the finest materials and finishes.  The main-level master bedroom suite includes a spa bath and dressing room, and a second main-level bedroom also has an en suite bath with peek-a-boo view windows designed to specifically capture the industrial feel and outlook of the original Schmidt design studio. A second-level office boasts lofty ceilings and around-the-compass views, as does the third-level game room complete with Dirty Harry pinball machine with the iconic Bay Bridge graphics facing out to the actual Bay Bridge! The fourth level is comprised of the actual “Clock Room,” an amazing, dramatic space behind the clock faces that exposes the gears of the tower’s four ticking clocks – a truly unique gathering point that will impress all who experience it. 

Outside, the exclusive use wrap-around roof deck has beautiful vistas of San Francisco and presents a lovely setting for large scale entertaining or quiet contemplation. With views in all directions, the penthouse looks out to a sweeping panoramic that encompasses The Bay, downtown San Francisco, Oracle/Giants Park, Sutro Tower-Twin Peaks, and Bernal Hill. Completing the appeal of this rare and unique property is its incredible location in the heart of SOMA-SouthBeach – one of The City’s most inspiring places to live – at the center of the tech 2.0 universe with easy access to fine dining, art galleries, cultural attractions, parks, Giants baseball stadium, entertainment venues, and plenty of transportation routes. Experience the best of city living at its absolute finest in this one-of-a-kind historic home.

A History of the Building

Originally constructed in 1907, the six-story, two-block industrial structure at Second and Bryant streets has long been known as “The Clocktower Building.” But it was actually first built without the iconic Clock Tower. In 1921, the site became headquarters to the Max Schmidt Lithography Company – the largest printing company on the west coast at the time and one of America’s great “label houses.” The Schmidt Company designed and produced many classic California fruit box labels and a number of posters for the Panama Public International Expedition. Circa 1922, Mr. Schmidt added a rooftop-accessible penthouse unit. It was intended as an exclusive light-filled artist’s studio to be used only by the company’s professional lithographers. Up here, above the hustle and bustle of the city, the expansive views were framed by walls of glass, providing an abundance of sunlight and consummate privacy for the staff artists to complete their illustrations. Crowning the penthouse was a 10-story, four-sided steel-frame clock tower with operational clock-faces on each side. The clock tower was nearly demolished when the Bay Bridge viaduct was constructed in the 1930s, but Schmidt threatened to take his successful business to the East Bay if the tower was touched. Thankfully, city officials relented and redesigned the viaduct plans to preserve the tower. 


The Schmidt Lithography Company is now gone from San Francisco, but the iconic Clock Tower has since become the everyday timepiece for Rincon Hill residents and commuters on the Bay Bridge. The building is even considered an official San Francisco landmark by The Landmarks Preservation Advisory board and has been named a “Contributory Building to the South End Historic District.”  In 1992, the factory underwent a tremendous change when San Francisco architect David Baker and the McKenzie, Rose, & Halliday development firm converted the entire brick-and-timber structure into 127 live/work condominiums and commercial office spaces. The retrofitting and upgrades cost more than $33 million and the spaces were arranged around three landscaped courtyards. Today, the district complex maintains its historic character, evoking the same scale and industrial grandeur that was once commonplace in the South End.

A Look Back:

When it was originally purchased by the current owners in 1993, all four levels of the penthouse were unimproved and in their original raw state.  Being the first residents, the current owners were able to work from a blank canvas to create a true urban sanctuary that enjoys exclusive stairway access to the entire tower. The space was retrofitted by architect David Baker, and after three years of renovation and several hundred thousand dollars in repairs and upgrades, the penthouse was completed in 1997. Modern upgrades included new tower windows, heating, ventilation systems, a gas fireplace, and a completely re-envisioned floor plan with all new materials, finishes and fixtures.  A second renovation was completed in 2014 by General Contractor Paul Stricklin, which brought the residence into the 21st century.

Features of the Clock Tower Penthouse

  • The Clocktower Building was originally constructed circa 1907 and is considered an official San Francisco landmark by The Landmarks Preservation Advisory 
  • Building was once headquarters to the Max Schmidt Lithography Company
  • Architect David Baker and McKenzie, Rose, & Halliday upgraded the factory building in a restoration that cost approximately $33 million 
  • The Tower Penthouse has four total levels with over 3,000 square feet of space, including exclusive access to the interior of the “Clock Tower” 
  • Panoramic views extend over The Bay to Oracle Park and the San Francisco city skyline
  • Personal accommodations include a beautiful main-level master suite, an additional bedroom suite, plus in-home office and game room that could be used as bedrooms
  • Interior features include towering ceilings throughout, oak hardwood floors, automated Hunter Douglas shades, custom draperies, ceiling fans, Lutron lighting with gallery style spotlights, and custom metal-framed bookshelves 
  • Main level is anchored by a lavish two-part living-and-dining room ensemble with shared gas fireplace, windows with views, transoms for fresh air, and French doors to the deck
  • Gorgeous gourmet kitchen with views, quartzite counters, glass cabinetry, a built-in desk, Dacor cooktop, concealed Liebherr refrigerators and freezers, plus microwave, dishwasher, and wall oven all by Bosch
  • The library/casual gathering room is separated from the main areas by an eyecatching maple-and-glass accordion-style double door; features here include abundant shelving, exposed beams for an industrial feel, and numerous box windows with views
  • The master bedroom suite has a vaulted ceiling, city views, and an enormous walk-in closet with multiple windows and dressing area; the master bath has radiant heated floors, a dual-sink vanity with six mirrored storage cabinets, private room for the commode, and a tiled glass-enclosed shower 
  • A second guest bedroom and bath off the library complements the main level space 
  • A carpeted steel staircase original to the Schmidt era leads from the library up to Level 2, which is used as an office and offers panoramic views in all directions.
  • Another steel staircase leads from the office up to Level 3, which is configured as a game room and media center and features a “Dirty Harry” Bay Bridge emblazoned pinball machine
  • A third set of stairs leads up to Level 4, which features the one-of-a-kind “Clock Room,” an amazing space behind the clock faces (NOTE: the clock is in full operation and is maintained by the homeowners association)
  • Numerous doors open to the private wrap-around rooftop deck with sweeping views and an expanse of custom stone pavers
  • Additional features include security alarm, sprinklers, stacked washer/dryer, two garage parking spaces on the ground level, multiple shared common courtyards, and secure entry points
  • The Bay Bridge offers easy access to the East Bay and beyond, while fine restaurants and entertainment lies just steps away in the heart of SOMA
  • HOA fees are approximately $988 per month 


South Beach

Some of the best weather in all of San Francisco can be claimed by South Beach. Found at the foot of the Oakland Bay Bridge, and bracketed by the Embarcadero and the Giants baseball stadium, this is exciting stretch of waterfront city is one of San Francisco's great walking neighborhoods. An affluent area, there are a large number of converted warehouses as well as new construction catering to luxury condos, luxury high rises, and luxury lofts. Take a morning walk to work, or visit the ballpark, or climb aboard your yacht - all of it within your grasp in this enticing section of the city.

Relaxing weekend mornings bring residents down from the high rises to walk dogs, or take a run along the Embarcadero where public art and bayside breezes are all part of the restorative setting. Catch a breakfast at the Ferry Building, while you enjoy the vibrant weekly farmers market. Find a robust cup of Blue Bottle Coffee, and a hunk of intoxicating cheese from Cowgirl Creamery. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, plus the world-famous SF MOMA, are all part of the local cultural universe that surrounds life here. YBCA delivers daring theater, dance, music and film.

The finest in urban cuisine can be found along these blocks, including Lulu, Azie, South Park Cafe, Delancey Street and more. Find a boat rental at City Kayak and explore the city by water or relax in historic South Park and take a break from work at one of it's burgeoning tech and investment oriented start-ups.

South Beach is luxurious city life at your fingertips, and nothing less.

Floor Plans


Showings by Appointment Only:

Contact Rob Levy

Contact Eric Turner


Rob Levy

DRE# 01233262415.385.8011

Eric Turner

CompassDRE# 01435932(415) 425-1516 office

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