Between 1900 and 1907 Polk acted for a time as the local representative of the Daniel Burnham firm of Chicago. Immediately preceding following the 1906 earthquake and fire, he designed several of San Francisco's most representative commercial buildings in the early 20th century Financial District that shifted south from the Gold Rush and Comstock Bonanza downtown along Jackson Street.
Examples of Polk's influential work include the Mills Building, the Hayward Building, and the Merchants' Exchange. It was also at this time that he created two of the most estimable surviving industrial designs: the City Warehouse Co. Building and the Jessie Street Substation. The latter is presently undergoing restoration as the Jewish Museum on Mission Street.
1900, Russian Hill, Fanny Osborne house,
2319-23 Hyde St., San Francisco
Additions have made a hodgepodge of this house, but the client, widow of Robert Louis Stevenson, and the architect, a staunch member of San Francisco's Bohemia, validate its claim to importance (Woodbridge and Woodbridge 1992: 70).
At the northwest corner of Hyde and Lombard Streets, Fanny Osborne, widow of Robert Louis Stevenson, built this fine Mediterranean villa, designed by Willis Polk. It was later enlarged and used as a convent, and is now an apartment house (Alexander and Heig 2002: 141).
There are far too many examples of Polk's work to enumerate them all, but one of his most successful projects was the handsome Mediterranean style house he designed in 1900 for Fanny Osborne, widow of Robert Louis Stevenson, on the northwest corner of Hyde and Lombard Streets. Although considerably enlarged, it has not been altered beyond recognition. Its arched entry and paired, arched windows are Polk's signature details (Alexander and Heig 2002: 337-38).
(1100 Lombard Street.) This stucco residence, often called the "Stevenson House," was built for the widow of Robert Louis Stevenson, perhaps to the designs of Willis Polk. Originally the house was two instead of four storeis at the Hyde-Lombard corner and had the air of a Tudor-Baroque country manor rather than that of a Mediterranean villa as now (Olmsted and Watkins 1969: 274).
1900, Telegraph Hill, City Warehouse Company Building,
Battery and Lombard Sts., SW corner, San Francisco
Originally designed by Willis Polk in 1900 and built in 1901, this building underwent extensive interior remodeling by Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum in 1980 and represents one of the fine warehouse buildings in the north Embarcadero district (Woodbridge and Woodbridge 1992: 53; Longstreth 1998: 432).
1900, Union Square, Wilson Building,
973-977 Market St., San Francisco
Designed 1900; built 1901; Extant; minor alterations (Longstreth 1998: 433).
Wilson Building. The tiled Byzantine facade of this building survived the 1906 fire and was retained in the construction of the present building by architect Henry Schulze (Olmsted and Watkins 1969: 280).
Architect uncertain; 1908. The first in the fine group of Market Strteet loft sturctures characterized by skeletal facade articulation and modified Chicago windows. The history and authorship of this building is full of conflicting information, it being variously attributed on good authority to Henry Schulze, Willis Polk, and Henry Meyers, and variously dated as a pre-fire and post-fire structure. It is nevertheless a handsome skeletal design with extremely rich decorative terra cotta panels. A three part vertical composition with Sullivanesque/Byzantine ornamentation. At the ground level it is the long-time home of the Palm Garden Grill. Steel frame construction. A (Corbett 1979: 94).
1900, Presidio Heights, William Keith house,
3204 Washington St., San Francisco
Extant; now owned by Church of the New Jerusalem (Longstreth 1998: 433).
William Keith and the Swedenborgian minister Joseph Worcester, were two members of the older generation held in particular esteem by Polk and other artists such as Douglas Tilden, Charles Rollo Peters, Ernest Peixotto, Bruce Porter, Gelett Burgess, and Frank Norris during the 1890s (Longstreth 1998: 74).
The efforts of these artists and writers, along with the naturalist John Muir, were beginning to gain widespread acceptance by the early 1890s. Novels and short stories celebrating the state's frontier legacy were at last becoming popular on the home front. William Keith was considered a patriarch among local artists because of his romantic portrayals of the natural landscape. John Muir's long-standing crusade to save the Yosemite Valley became an organized effort in 1892 with the founding of the Sierra Club, for which Polk designed the shield. Among the most remarkable manifestations of the growing interest in rusticity was the annual encampment of the Bohemian Club--founded in 1872 as a coterie of writers--where the celebration of the wilderness developed into a spectacular ritual (Longstreth 1998: 111).
William Keith and John Muir were friends of another widely respected elder of the intellectual community, the Boston native Charles Murdock, who considedred bookmaking an art and was patronized by Bret Harte and Robert Louis Stevenson. Keith taught painting to the wife of Valentine Rey, who headed the family firm, Britton and Rey, preeminent among the region's photography and lithography studios. Through its prints, the company deserved much of the credit for making the beauties of northern California's landscape well known during the late nineteenth century (Longstreth 1998: 132; 163).
Keith contributed the murals as his part of the cooperative venture to create the Swedenborgian church in 1894. Others involved included Bruce Porter, Bernard Maybeck, and the architect A. C. Schweinfurth, the leading figure in the initial search for an architecture that would be closely identified with the state (Longstreth 1998: 275).
1900, Presidio Heights, Albert Ehrman house,
2880 Broadway, San Francisco
A Neoclassical manor house that recalls the London work of the English architect John Nash (Woodbridge and Woodbridge 1992: 96).
Designed by Willis Polk for Albert Ehrman, this stone and reinforced concrete house was inspired by Italian Renaissance "palazzos." It has a courtyard and elaborate interior paneling (Olmsted and Watkins 1969: 252).
1903, Financial District, Merchants' Exchange Building
465 California St., San Francisco
Willis Polk for D. H. Burnham and Co.
Two buildings [Merchants Exchange Building, Insurance Exchange Building] with similar wall compositions and surface treatment. The Merchants Exchange (rebuilt after the fire) served as a local model for later buildings in the financial district: the Matson and PG&E buildings on Market Street. An interior, skylit arcade leads to the old Merchants exchange hall, attributed to Julia Morgan. Mimicking a Roman basilica, the hall is lavishly detailed and bathed in a natural light. The seascape paintings are by William Coulter. In the old days, merchants assembled in this hall where news about the ships coming into the harbor was transmitted to them from the lookout tower on the roof (Woodbridge and Woodbridge 1992: 28).
Polk's name appears just under that of Ernest Graham, the office manager, in the title blocks of the working drawings for the Merchant's Exchange Building in San Francisco, suggesting that he was in charge of the project (Longstreth 1998: 392, n. 13).
No observer bent on taking in the most glorious buildings in the city should overlook the Merchants' Exchange, at the southest corner of California and Montgomery Streets. Built in 1902 on the design of Daniel Burnham and Willis Polk, it was one of the tallest buildings in San Francisco, standing out in post-fire photos as a gutted pile above the ruined financial district. Julia Morgan designed a handsome new interior after 1906, and the building was splendidly restored in the 1960s. In the bank at the end of the lobby visitors may enjoy the superb maritime murals by William Coulter, a leading artist of his time. The paintings had been plastered over for decades (Alexander and Heig 2002: 371).
Architecturally and historically one of the major landmarks of the city. Designed in 1903 by D. H. Burnham and Co.'s representative in San Francisco, Willis Polk, and rebuilt by Polk after the fire. One of the earliest big buildings of the great downtown building boom that began before the earthquake, and an extremely prominent building on the skyline for its first few yearts, until the city grew up around it. This is the third Merchant's Exchange Building in San Francisco's history and it has long played a central role in the commerce of the city. Messages of incoming ships were originally sent to the belvedere on the roof and relayed to the merchants in the great hall below who could then rush to the docks to meet them.
Architecturally the building represented the most up-to-date stylistic treatment from one of Chicago's most important architectureal firms. Its design has served as one of the major prototypes for later downtown office buildings from the immediate post-fire period up to the mid-1920s. The Matson (M30), California Commercial Union (F85), Financial Center (F87), J. Harold Dollar (F26), Hobart (M45), and P. G. & E. (M2) buildings are among the most prominent whose designs follow the Merchant's Exchange in one or more major ways. It was the first San Francisco building to use a large textured curtain wall treated as rusticated masonry with single or paired windows. This distinctive wall treatment which was used over and over again downtown has been extremely successful as a consistent but variable element in downtown street facades. The ornamental belvederes on many later downtown buildings recall the original one on the Merchant's Exchange. The three part composition, with columns defining the base and capital, was followed with greater and lesser degrees of elaboration. The building provided a basic vocabulary for designing buildings which were simultaneously great urban designs and individually interesting.
The interior was just as fine as the exterior but unfortunately not as successful as a prototype. The building is entered through a marble lobby with exquisite bronze elevator doors. The lobby passes under a skylight open to a large central light court to the old Merchant's Exchange space. The great marble columns and superb murals by William Coulter have recently been restored for the Chartered Bank of London. Evidence that would confirm the widely held belief that Julia Morgan was the designer of the Exchange has been inaccessible to historians. Upstairs, the Commercial Club of 1916 was designed by Walter Ratcliff, and the Club Bar was designed by William P. Day in 1935. In construction, the building was an early San Francisco example of modern "fireproof" steel frame construction with Roebling system cinder concrete slab floors. A (Corbett 1979: 198).
The tallest building in the financial district at the time of the 1906 earthquake was the Merchants Exchange, 465 California Street. This fifteen-story, steel-frame structure, with Tennessee granite and brick sheathing, was designed by Willis Polk in 1903; it traces its ancestry back to a three-story brick building of 1851 located about two blocks north on Battery Street. The original Merchants Exchange furnished a library and meeting room and posted information on arriving ships and cargoes. The latter-day skyscraper was intended to provide some of the same services to the business community.
The great hall of the Exchange, now modified as a bank office, is still decorated with some of the best and most appropriate San Franciscan murals--paintings executed by William Coulter, a leading maritime artist of his place and time. Other touches of period architectural art can be seen in the bronze eagle heads and lamps of the exterior, designed by Julia Morgan. Miss Morgan can also be credited with the inspiring interior appointments.
The days are gone when the merchants of San Francisco gathered there over one thousand strong to approve the plans for the 1915 Exposition or to condemn the 1934 general strike, and the Merchants Exchange is now just another building. But the great glass-roofed foyer and the adjacent meeting hall are reminiscent of that former era (Olmsted and Watkins 1969: 81).
1904, Financial District, Hayward (Kohl) Building
400 Montgomery St., San Francisco
Restored by Polk after the 1906 fire, the ground floor has suffered the usual depredations. The entrance portico is still a fine composition; the marble lobby is mostly original. The best part of the building is its ornate top (Woodbridge and Woodbridge 1992: 28).
Hayward Building. Designed 1900; built 1900-01, Henry Meyers supervising architect. Extant: minor alterations (Longstreth 1998: 432-33).
The Kohl Building (52) on the northeast corner of Montgomery and California was designed by Polk in 1904 and then restored after the fire (Wiley 2000: 170).
No discussion of Willis Polk and his contributions to the "San Francisco Renaissance" should overlook his designs for and modification of San Francisco's commercial buildings. To list just a few, the Kohl or Howard Building at 400 Montgomery Street (1904), the Insurance Exchange, 433 California Street, the San Francisco Water Department, 425 Mason Street; the Hobart Building, 582 Market Street (1914), the Merchants' Exchange at California and Montgomery (1902), and the Mills Building (1908) (Alexander and Heig 2002: 339).
Statement of SignificanceThe Hayward building is of unique significance to the history of San Francisco: it was built by Alvinza Hayward, a gold mining millionaire and a major figure in nineteenth-century California financial circles; it was designed by Willis Polk, and was his first major commercial building; it was exceptionally well constructed, to the point that it was the only building in San Francisco's financial district to survive the 1906 earthquake and fire with a minimum of damage; and it is an architecturally important structure in the downtown financial district.
1906 Earthquake and FireThe Hayward Building was unique in that it was the only building in the financial district to survive the 1906 earthquake and fire. Several tall structures were built in San Francisco during the post 1890 period. These "Class 'A' fireproof buildings" typically had structural steel frames and survived the earthquake shock relatively undamaged. However, the fire which followed the earthquake gutted virtually every building in its path. Flammable interior finishes were destroyed, and the heat from the flames spalled exterior stone and terra cotta. Terra cotta fireproofing frequently failed, and unprotected structural steel framing members warped and buckled.
The Hayward Building was the lone exception. The lower three stories were damaged by the fire, but the upper seven stores were for the most part untouched. A contempoarry engineer noted that the building was uninjured structurally, and observed that:
Very little fire entered the basement, and the power plant is practically uninjured. The marble finish of the entrance hall is in good condition, the ornamental plaster being but slightly damaged. The second and third stores are fire swept, but a few offices in the northeast corner of the building escaped. In the fourth and fifth stories, the fire did the most damage in the offices around the southwest corner of the building. In the sixth and seventh stories the fire entered the building through windows in the northeast corner, consuming all the combustible contents in a few offices and discoloring the rest of the story by smoke. The upper stories are but slightly damaged by fire and smoke, but are disfigured by a great number of plaster cracks caused by the earthquake (Himmelwright 1906: 168-172).
The building's unique survival of the disaster was generally ascribed to its construction. One engineer noted that "The advantages of the metal-covered trim and the incombustible floor finish were clearly demonstrated in this building."(Himmelwright 1906: 172) Another observed that the "metal-covered doors in this building...prevented to some extent the spread of the fire within the building itself, so that where one room burned out, the fire coming through a front window, an adjacent room was not burned because of the resistance offered by the door."(Department of the Interior, United States Geological Survey, The San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of April 18, 1906, and their Effects on Structures and Structural materials, Bulletin no. 324, Series R., Structural Materials 1, Washington: Government Printing Office, 1907, repr: San Francisco Historical Publishing Co., n.p.)
Another reason for the building's survival was its relative isolation. A local architect, visiting the scene, noted that the "Merchants Exchange building really acted as a screen across the street to the Hayward building, and the one-story Merchants Trust building also served to protect the building, by the fifty-foot open space on the east; California Street on the south and Montgomery Street on the west also protected the building."(The Architect and Engineer of California, Vol. V No 1 (May, 1906), n.p.)
The survival of the Hayward Building was such that repairs (also designed by Willis Polk) were completed and the building reoccupied in a matter of weeks, while its neighbors took months and years to rebuild.
Architecturally, the building is rated "A" in the downtown survey (Splendid Survivors). Buildings rated "A. Highest Importance" are "individually the most important buildings in downtown San Francisco, distinguished by outstanding qualities of architecture, historical values, and relationship to the environment. All A-group buildings are eligible for the National Register, and of the highest priority for City landmark status."(Corbett 1979: 207) It is also a Category I building in the San Francisco City Planning Code's Article 11, Preservation of Buildings and Districts of Architectural, Historical, and Aesthetic Importance in the C-3 Districts.(City and County of San Francisco. City and County of San Francisco Municipal Code, Planning Code, Volume II, Article 11. Seattle, Washington: Book Publishing Company, December 16, 1988.) In Section 1102 of this Article of the Planning Code, buildings considered to be in Category I are those which "(1) Are at least 40 years old; and (2) Are judged to be Buildings of Individual Importance; and (3) Are rated Excellent in Architectural Design or are rated Very Good in both Architectural Design and Relationship to the Environment." That 400 Montgomery meets the criteria for the highest ratings above attests to its individual architectural importance.
Alvinza HaywardThe Hayward building was built for and named after Alvinza Hayward (1822-1904). Hayward was born in Vermont, and moved with his family to Canton, New York.("Called by Death, Aged Capitalist and Pioneer Passes Away Yesterday Afternoon at the Residence of Charlles D. Lane," San Francisco Chronicle, 15 February 1904, p. 12.) Hayward studied law in New York, and became involved in lumbering and lead mining. Like many others, the Gold Rush brought him to California in 1850. His experiences in vein mining in Michigan, however, set him apart from the average gold-seeker. He bought an interest in the Eureka mine in Amador County, which had been worked with little success until his arrival. His experience in Michigan taught him techniques to successfully extract gold from the rock, and he and partners were said to have taken out $5,000,000 from the Eureka. He incorporated the mine, and sold shares of its stock. The Eureka was the first mine in California to be so incorporated, and Hayward amassed a considerable fortune. Success with the Eureka led to other successful mining ventures, including the Springfield Mine in El Dorado County, the Plymouth in Amador County, and most successfully, the Utica in Calavaras County.
He branched into other areas of business, including coal, timber, railroads, real estate and banking. He was associated with William Ralston in the Bank of California, and was the principal stock holder in San Francisco's Omnibus Street Railway, and its successor, the Market Street Railway, which was the city's major street railway. Hayward's enterprises were so successful that he was called "The Richest Man in California" by his contemporaries.
Hayward had a flamboyant and eccentric personality. He believed in Spiritualism, which led him to sustain losses in his later years, when he enlisted the aid of the spirits to help him with his business ventures. Hayward died in 1904 at the age of 82 years.
Mrs. C. Frederick Kohl purchased the building from Hayward's estate.(San Francisco Chronicle, 30 October 1904; 15 Novenber 1904.) Kohl later separated from her husband, and when he died in 1921, he bequeathed the property to a New York woman, Mrs. Marion Louderback Lord. Amid considerable public scandal, the will was contested by Kohl's family,(San Francisco Chronicle, 1 December 1921.) but was upheld two years later.(San Francisco Chronicle, 17 May 1923.)
The Hayward Building was built when Hayward was almost eighty years old, and in many ways marked the culmination of his career. As architectural critic B. J. S. Cahill said in 1909, referring to Hayward's fascination with Spiritualism,
The Hayward building was the expression of a man who believed in something that was not altogether material. There was a touch of romance about its inception-perhaps folly if you like; at any rate, it was something human. It was built by a mining man and is altogether typically Californian.(B.J.S. Cahill, "The Local Architecture of San Francisco," Architect and Engineer, Vol. VIII No. 3 (August, 1909), p. 79.)
The Hayward building was designed to be a first-class office building. Hayward intended it to be a monument to his wealth and position as one of the leading capitalists of the state. The building's formality and rich materials eloquently fulfill this goal.
Willis PolkWillis Polk (1867-1924) was one of the best-known architects of turn-of-the-century San Francisco. The son of a mid-western architect-builder, Polk emigrated to New York, where he was hired by A. Page Brown.(Richard W. Longstreth, On the Edge of the World: Four architects in San Francisco at the Turn of the Century, New York, NY: The Architectural History Foundation, 1983). Most of the information in this section comes from Longstreth, additional information is from Michael Corbett, Splendid Survivors: San Francisco's Downtown Architectural Heritage, San Francisco: California Living Books, 1979.) Brown's office was an offshoot of McKim Mead and White, and retained close ties with the parent firm.
Brown moved his office to San Francisco in 1889, bringing Polk with him. Polk left Brown's office shortly afterwards, first working on his own, then with various partners, including his father and brother, who had joined him in San Francisco. The partnership with his father enjoyed moderate success, but upon the elder Polk's retirement in 1896, the flow of new commissions subsided to the extent that Polk was forced to declare bankruptcy in July, 1897.
Polk was a frequent contributor of architectural criticism to local periodicals, and attempted a publishing venture himself: The Architectural News, which ceased publication in 1891, after printing only three issues. He was notorious for his lack of diplomacy and his frequent, vitriolic criticism of his contemporaries, associates, and potential clients. Polk's unpredictable, irresponsible personality and lack of business acumen were to haunt his entire career.
Polk entered into an association with George Washington Percy in 1899. Percy was head of a well-established local architectural firm; with his design partner F. F. Hamilton, Percy had been involved in the design of many prominent commercial buildings, residences and churches. Polk was hired a few weeks after Hamilton's death, and took over his design responsibilities. Percy never made Polk a full partner, and his seniority was resented by other architects in the office. The firm disbanded upon Percy's death late in 1900.
The design and construction of the Hayward Building dates from this period. Although Polk was the designer of the building, Percy did not publicly credit him with the design. The building was still under construction at the time of Percy's death and Henry Meyers, who had been trained in Percy and Hamilton's office, superintended the building's construction. Meyers later unsuccessfully attempted to contest Polk's claim for credit of the design.
After leaving Percy's office, Polk contacted Daniel Burnham in Chicago. By then, Burnham had established a reputation as one of the nation's preeminent architects, and had built a number of important buildings in San Francisco. Polk hoped to form a west coast branch of Burnham's firm, with himself in charge. Burnham rejected the idea, but invited Polk to join his Chicago office. Polk and his new bride moved to Chicago, and remained there for almost two years.
After a tour of Europe, Polk returned to San Francisco, where he entered into a partnership with George Alexander Wright, an old contact from his Percy days. He remained in contact with Burnham, and was instrumental in the adoption of Burnham's ground breaking San Francisco master plan. After the 1906 earthquake and fire, Polk again approached Burnham with the idea of opening a San Francisco office. This time, Burnham was enthusiastic about the idea.
Under the name Burnham and Co., Polk designed numerous projects. However, the partnership was dissolved in 1910, due to Polk's poor management. Polk continued to practice on his own, and enjoyed a national reputation. He was appointed supervising architect for the 1915 Panama Pacific Exposition. He designed several major projects during this period, including the Hobart Building in 1914, and the Halladie Building, generally recognized as the first true glass curtain-wall structure, in 1917. He died in 1924.
During his career, Polk became a leading local exponent of both the Beaux Arts and the Craftsman styles. His designs frequently were bold and unconventional, and were steeped in both a thorough understanding of historical precedent and the unique conditions of each project.
The Hayward building marks the culmination of Polk's first period, before his association with Burnham. It was Polk's first major commercial building, the precursor of many to follow. Its refinement and elegance speak of Polk's mastery of the Classical vocabulary, and its unusual H-shaped plan speak of his imaginative approach to complex architectural problems. The prominent local critic B. J. S. Cahill, pronounced the building to be "one of the most beautiful buildings in San Francisco." He went on to say, "Florid and bold in detail, magnificent in material, and without stint inside or out, it is yet entirely metropolitan and without a trace of shoddiness."(Cahill, "Local Architecture of San Francisco.")
A handsome and important early San Francisco skyscraper and the only one in the burned area which at least partly survived without any fire or earthquake damage. The building was first built for Alvinza Hayward, an associate of banker William Ralston; his last initial is possibly the source of the unusual "H" shape of the building. The original design was the result of the short-lived association of George W. Percy and Willis Polk, with Henry Meyers as supervising architect. The building was burned below the fourth floor and was rebuilt by Polk in 1907. In recent years pieces of its cornice have been removed.
It was an early and excellent example in San Francisco of the more formal designs that later came to characterize the city, relying on a relatively restrained and "correct" use of Renaissance/Baroque ornamentation and the two or three part compositional formula. It was also an early example of "fireproof" construction, the success of which can be measured in its unique survival of the fire. It is a steel frame building with reinforced concrete floors and expanded metal reinforcing, hollow tile partitions, metal covered door and window frames, and suspended ceilings of plastered expanded metal. Its brick curtain walls are clad in Colusa sandstone, the favored building material for pre-fire prestige buildings. Ornamentation in this three part composition is concentrated in the upper tier with its mannerist giant order and carved garlands and animal heads. The remodeled base includes Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill's stylish and expensive Banco di Roma of about 1972. In an article entitled "The Local Architecture of San Francisco" in Architect and Engineer in 1909, the important critic B. J. S. Cahill referred to the Kohl as "one of the most beautiful buildings in San Francisco." A (Corbett 1979: 207-08).
A very good large office building, of more interesting detail but of weaker conception than the Mills Building, is the Kohl Building, 400 Montgomery St. Designed by Percy and Polk in 1901, it shows Polk's preoccupation with extravagant details as well as advanced construction. A rather plain structure up to the tenth-floor cornice, it suddenly turns into a riot of bold variations and exaggerations of Baroque and Classical styles (partly lost with the removal of numerous lions heads in the recent interest of public safety).
The building is constructed around a steel frame, the interior employs metal lathe and plaster, the sheathing is of a handsome greenish-gray Colusa sandstone. Perhaps the first "fireproof" building in downtown San Francisco, it survived the 1906 fire intact above the fourth story, while all other buildings, once ignited, were gutted.
Alvinza Hayward, also one of Ralston's Bank of California associates, put up the building which was later purchased by the Kohl interests. It has been said that the unusual "H" shape was the result of Mrs. Hayward's superstitious regaard for initials--a story not out of character with the nature of San Francisco's first generation of millionaires (Olmsted and Watkins 1969: 79, 81).
1904, Haight-Ashbury, All Saints' Episcopal Church
1350 Waller St., San Francisco
All Saints Episcopal Church at 1350 Waller Street was designed by Willis Polk. Its parishioneers provided food and medical care to many of the young people who were stranded here in the 1960s (Alexander and Heig 2002: 135)
All Saints Episcopal Church, at 1350 Waller Street, is another architectural gem (see page 135). This half-timbered cottage-like structure has an arched entry, above which is a small rose window fitted into the gable facing the street. It is a little surprising to learn that so modest a church carries out masses in the High Church manner. During the years in which All Saints stood at the very heart of hippiedom, it became the community church of the "flower children." Like many other churches in the city, it reached out to the thousands of young people who flocked to San Francisco with little but the clothing on their backs. The beloved rector, Reverend Leon Harris, sent out a letter reminding his flock that the church was not a private club, but rather a regiment of Christian soldiers dedicated to suppulying food, clothing, and comfort to those in need, "and hippies need these things." (Alexander and Heig 2002: 353).
All Saints' New Construction will reflect the original look of the Church in 1904. The color approximates the "slate gray" shingles that will be used. Not only will it provide handicapped access, it will also correct some serious construction errors that were the results of add-ons and other constructions over the years.
Beginning in the year 2003 through 2005, All Saints' Episcopal Church will celebrate its 100th Anniversary, first as mission of St. Luke's Episcopal Church beginning in 1903, and as a full parish in 1905. All Saints' Episcopal Church was founded by successful group of San Francisco professional people, as reflected in the many beautiful Victorians that today give character to the Haight Ashbury district. Meeting informally in 1900 in a small building on Oak Street the parishioners began to plan the spiritual development of the new Haight Ashbury neighborhood.
Initially, it was a mission of the no-longer extant St. Stephan's Church. After the rector of St. Stephen's, Fr. Edgar J. Lions died in 1903, the people interested in starting All Saints' Church, along with the clergy of Saint Luke's and the vestry of Saint Stephens decided to transfer its mission responsibility to St. Luke's according to documents kept at Saint Luke's Church.
In 1905 All Saints became a full parish. Its first rector was Canon Fr. W. Edward Hayes. The church building was first located on Masonic between Haight and Waller. It was moved in 1905 to its current location on Waller (Waller is one block above Haight) near Masonic because the parishioners did not like the noise of a then existing trolley line outside its front doors. During this move, which was accomplished in less than 30 days, the side aisles were added to the structure.
All Saints' Church has a colorful history, both in its early days and at the height of the Haight's "flower children era" in the late 1960's. It served as a headquarters for the renowned "Diggers" during that era. It became Anglo-Catholic in 1949 when the legendary Fr. Leon Harris became its Rector (All Saints' Church).
1905, 1907, 1909, South of Market, Jessie Street Substation
222-26 Jessie St., San Francisco
Also known as Pacific Gas & Electric Co. Stevenson St. Substation, Central S, this one-story, brick and terra cotta, Classical Revival style building (Landmark No. 87), with a towering, arched doorway and Romanesque detailing is of historic significance owing to its architecture and engineering. It served as an energy utilities substation until 1924, but is currently vacant and slated to be part of the new home of the Jewish Museum (National Register of Historic Places: California, San Francisco)
In 1998 The Jewish Museum San Francisco commissioned internationally acclaimed architect Daniel Libeskind to design its new building. Libeskind's striking design preserves and expands a former power substation designed by distinguished architect Willis Polk in 1907, transforming it into a unique 21st-century museum in the heart of what has become the San Francisco Bay Area's foremost arts and cultural district. The expansion of this historic building will allow The Magnes Museum the additional space necessary to expand its mission and programming. The Magnes Museum looks forward to opening its new building in 2005 (The Magnes Museum: New Buildings).
The finest and the first of a number of designs by Polk for P. G. & E. substations in northern California. These widely publicized designs served as prototypes for work by other architects for the same company. Such "beautification" of industrial structures was an aspect of the City Beautiful Movement. The design of this building was a 1905 remodel of an 1881 structure which burned in February 1906 and again in April of 1906. It was rebuilt in 1907 and enlarged in 1909. The building is a steel frame and reinforced concrete structure with a steel truss roof. Its main brick facade is a modified vault in composition, with Renaissance/Baroque ornamentation in cream colored, matte glazed terra cotta. Its finest feature is a sculptural group over the smaller of two main entrances consisting of four cherubs with gourds and garlands of fruit beneath a torch. The facade sets up a tension between carefully wrought, sometimes delicate terra cotta ornament and a vast wall of rough red industrial brick. Until demolition of adjacent structures for Yerba Buena Center in recent years, this grand facade was hidden on a blind alley in the middle of a block of taller buildings. This building was initially slated for demolition, as well, but now figures prominently in plans for revitalization of the area. A (Corbett 1979: 76).
The Pacific Gas & Electric Co. substation, 222-226 Jessie Street, tucked away in a dead-end alley between Market and Mission, is one of San Francisco's few great examples of the architectural possibilities of the brick facade. Originally built in 1881, and subsequently enlarged twice, the substation was damaged in a fire in February, 1906, and almost destroyed in the earthquake and fire of April, 1906. Rebuilt in 1907, the building owes its present character to Willis Polk, at that time head of the San Francisco office of D. H. Burnham and Company, the Chicago firm that had prepared the 1905 plan for the conversion of San Francisco to a model of the "city beautiful" along the lines of Paris and Washington. As a result, it is not altogether surprising that the architectural ideas of Polk and Burnham should have been applied to an electric substation in a South-of-Market alley.
This noble structure is a simple (but quite sophisticated) exercise in the development of balance, line, and texture. Though the eye focuses on the ornamental, vertical, and symmetrical piercings and moldings, it is the horizontal line of the rough, red wall that catches the breath. Yet, of course, it is the elaborate applied inventions that make the plain surface more than just another brick wall. This is a building that many San Franciscans have never seen, and it is worth going out of one's way to look at it (Olmsted and Watkins 1969: 93; 96-97).
1907, Russian Hill, Seldon S. Wright house
950 Lombard St., San Francisco
Willis Polk designed this interesting shingled residence to replace an earlier one (destroyed in 1906) built for Seldon S. Wright, prominent San Francisco attorney and one-time supervisor (Olmsted and Watkins 1969: 279).