The 110th Thanksgiving

A 1901 engraving of Calvary Presbyterian Church at the corner of Fillmore and Jackson.

LOCAL HISTORY | Joe Beyer

Thanksgiving Day marks the 110th anniversary that Calvary Presbyterian Church has stood proudly at the corner of Fillmore and Jackson Streets.

But it’s actually much older than that.

Founded in 1854, the church’s first home was located on Bush Street between Montgomery and Sansome. In 1859, as the city expanded, the church moved to a new building on Union Square, which stood where the St. Francis Hotel is located today.

By the turn of the century, the city’s continuing westward expansion led the congregation to conclude it was time to move again, all the way out to Fillmore Street. More than a million bricks from the Union Square structure — along with the pews, much of the woodwork and the metal balcony supports — were moved and used in the new sanctuary. The first service in the building was held on Thanksgiving Day on November 27, 1902.

The timing was fortuitous. In April 1906 the great earthquake and fire struck the city and the area around Union Square was destroyed. But the fire did not spread to this part of the city, and Fillmore Street became the new center of activity.

Calvary suffered no structural damage and after the earthquake hosted many community meetings and services for other religions whose homes were destroyed by the earthquake and fire. The basement of the church was a temporary courtroom for the superior court.

Calvary Presbyterian Church in 1868 on the corner of Geary and Powell.

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