Matthew Kavanaugh was a builder-carpenter of Irish ancestry and the builder of the “7 sisters” or “Painted Ladies” in San Francisco. He built his own home first at 722 Steiner Street, the anchor home at the corner of Steiner and Grove streets, in 1892 and then one sister at a time starting with the furthest up the hill at 710 Steiner. The 6 “Victorian Style” sisters have identical floor plans with only minor alterations made to each exterior to give them individuality. They were originally sold for $6,000 each.
Kavanaugh’s own home is larger than the others and built in the “Queen Anne” style with a corridor between houses to provide additional family privacy and a front garden. It has 5 bedrooms and 4.5 baths plus a rental apartment with 1 bedroom and 1 bath. The Queen Anne style arrived in New York City in 1878 and characteristics included gables and turrets, asymmetrical facade, overhanging eaves, enclosed porch, second story balcony, patterned wood shingles resembling fish scales, dentils, classical columns, spindles, bay windows and monumental chimneys, all of which are visible on this house. The Kavanaugh house was first sold in 1900 and changed hands about 15 times.