Before Paris, the Steins were locals

The rental flats at Washington & Lyon Streets helped fund the Steins' art collection.

A rt patrons Michael and Sarah Stein lived in the Fillmore, then primarily a Jewish neighborhood, before they joined his sister Gertrude and brother Leo in Paris in the early 1900s. So did Gertrude Stein’s longtime companion, Alice B. Toklas.

The Stein family owned and operated some of San Francisco’s many cable car lines, which Michael consolidated and sold. He also built the first rental flats in the city at the corner of Washington and Lyon Streets. It was the income from these investments that enabled the family to collect art and live abroad for many decades. Together they created a legendary collection of modern art and helped establish Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso as two of the most important artists of the 20th century.

The Stein collection has since been dispersed to museums around the world. But it is reunited in “The Steins Collect,” an exhibition now on view at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which highlights their local connections.

Read more: “From Pierce Street to Paris