Sherith Israel completes retrofit

A crane hoists roofing material to the temple's historic dome.

A crane hoists roofing material to the temple’s historic dome.

ESPECIALLY SWEET MUSIC will rise up into the freshly repainted and retrofitted dome atop Congregation Sherith Israel’s historic home at California and Webster on June 9 at a special Shabbat service celebrating the end of a long-running renovation.

“We did it!” exclaimed David Newman, co-chair of the seismic retrofit campaign. “The Sherith Israel community has risen to the occasion.”

“We are in compliance with all of the city’s seismic requirements,” said former congregation board member Ellen Schumm, who has been involved with the project since its inception. “This building is so stable, it’s awesome.”

The $16 million project to strengthen the 1905 building — which survived the earthquake and fire the next year and served as a temporary courthouse during the rebuilding — was spurred by new standards established after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.

The first phase of the project, completed in 2011, included an innovative engineering plan to reinforce the exterior walls of the sanctuary without affecting the elaborately painted interior walls. It also stripped away the salmon-colored paint that had been unwisely applied to the sandstone walls half a century earlier.

The second phase, just completed, involved reroofing, repainting and waterproofing the dome, removing the last vestiges of salmon paint and returning the dome to the color of the sandstone on the base. It also added solar panels on the roof and included work on nearly every other part of the building.

“Our beautiful sanctuary will be here — and be strong — for generations to come,” said senior rabbi Jessica Graf.

EARLIER: In a video from January 2011, the retrofit project was underway.

Fire at the Elite

Elite

IT WAS A sunny Friday morning, and it looked as if the historic neon sign fronting the Elite Cafe would at last be fully lit. Then suddenly a swarm of fire trucks was on the scene.

“We finally found the part to fix the sign to light both sides,” says owner Andy Chun, “and the sign guys somehow caught the thing on fire when they were installing it.”

Chun says the extent of the damage and how long repairs will take are both unknown at this point.

elite_fire

Hospital may sell its historic library

The hospital's Health Sciences Library was built in 1912.

The Health Sciences Library at Sacramento and Webster was built in 1912.

THE CLASSIC REVIVAL sandstone building at Sacramento and Webster that has housed the medical library for the nearby hospital since 1912 is headed for a new life in its second century.

Its collections have been dispersed and the library’s small staff is relocating by the end of March to the nearby Gerbode Research Building at Webster and Clay.

A hospital spokesman said the library has not been listed for sale. But library director Anne Shew confirmed the building was being vacated and said: “It will be put on the market soon — in the next couple of months.”

The library lost much of its patronage in 2014 when the University of the Pacific’s dental school left its longtime home across the street. The dental school had shared the library with the hospital.

Among those said to be interested in buying the landmark building: Trumark Urban, developer of The Pacific condominium complex at 2121 Webster, which replaced the dental school.

“I have no comment on that,” said Arden Hearing, managing director of Trumark.

Garages find a new use

The Patagonia store at 770 North Point was formerly a neighborhood garage.

The Patagonia store at 770 North Point was formerly a neighborhood garage.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

As the automobile increased in popularity and affordability in the 1920s, neighborhood parking garages and repair shops became the norm in San Francisco.

Because private homes were commonly constructed without garages, a new type of building evolved to serve residents with parking needs. Neighborhood garages were often one- or two-story concrete structures with industrial interiors. However, given their placement within the city’s established residential enclaves or along commercial corridors, they were often designed to fit into an existing architectural vocabulary. Many of these once indispensable buildings are still found across the city and in our neighborhood.

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Anne Bloomfield’s archives go to Heritage

Anne Bloomfield's research was the foundation of Gables & Fables.

Anne Bloomfield’s research was the foundation of Gables & Fables.

By BRIDGET MALEY

My predecessor in writing about neighborhood architecture for the New Fillmore, the respected architectural historian Anne Bloomfield, was an amazing researcher and a passionate advocate for maintaining the character of Pacific Heights and Presidio Heights. She died in December 1999, but her life’s work of helping preserve San Francisco’s past lives on.

Anne collected vital information on individual buildings, architects, and builders that led to the designation of many landmarks and historic districts. Her ground-breaking detective work on the building collaborative called The Real Estate Associates, who in 1875 claimed to have built more detached houses than any other company in the U.S., revealed a sophisticated San Francisco building practice.

Her research was the foundation for Gables & Fables: A Portrait of San Francisco’s Pacific Heights, the book her husband Arthur Bloomfield published after her death.

Recently I had the opportunity to review and organize Anne’s research files on Pacific Heights and Presidio Heights for inclusion into the collection of San Francisco Heritage at its headquarters in the Haas-Lilienthal House. The files will be invaluable to future researchers and aficionados of San Francisco’s early architecture.

A pair of important homes

The Vedanta Society's "new temple" at Fillmore and Vallejo.

The Vedanta Society’s “new temple” at Fillmore and Vallejo.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

The Vedanta Society of Northern California was founded in 1900 by visiting Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda, who earlier gained fame and admiration at the Chicago Parliament of World Religions in 1893. The society owns two neighborhood landmarks: the “old temple” at 2963 Webster at Filbert, completed in 1905, then further expanded in 1908; and the “new temple” at 2323 Vallejo at Fillmore, dedicated in 1959.

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A home for the telephone king

Both client and architect of this corner house shared a fascination with telephones.

Both the owner and architect of 1900 Pierce Street shared a fascination with telephones.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

The wonderfully designed corner house at 1900 Pierce Street was built in 1887 for John I. Sabin, an early investor and proponent of the telephone, under the direction of architect William F. Smith.

John I. Sabin

John I. Sabin, first owner of 1900 Pierce

Both architect and client appear to have shared a fascination with telephones. In 1877, Sabin founded the American District Telegraph Co., the first telephone company on the west coast. Later he became the president of the Pacific States Telephone Co. and acquired the nickname the “Telephone King.” In 1901, architect Smith filed for a patent for a “message transmitting and recording mechanism for telephone systems.” This device was capable of passing a message from one switching station to another and recording it on paper tape at the receiving end.

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An architect’s classic but understated homes

An attractive grouping of E.E. Young’s work graces the southwest corner of Octavia and Jackson.

An grouping of E.E. Young’s work graces the southwest corner of Octavia and Jackson.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

Architect Edward Eyestone Young became known for his collaborative work with speculative housing developers during the first few decades of the 20th century. Designing and building houses primarily on San Francisco’s north side, with a particular focus in Pacific Heights, Presidio Heights and along Lake Street, Young established strong relationships with some of the city’s important developers. Several homes were often crafted in a small group, each with a similar floor plan but with varying facades.

Three of Young’s more distinctive Pacific Heights collections still stand at the corners of Octavia and Jackson, Divisadero and Green, and Presidio and Jackson.

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An Art Deco treasure is diminished

The original blueprints from 1932 show the elaborate Art Deco detailing of the facade.

The blueprints from 1932 show the elaborate Art Deco detailing of the facade.

ARCHITECTURE |  THERESE POLETTI

In the spring, neighbors and patrons of the Elite Cafe were dismayed to hear that the 35-year-old restaurant had been sold, fearful it would fall victim to the current depressing trend in San Francisco of gutting historic interiors down to the studs.

But news that the buyer was a group headed by San Francisco restaurateur Andy Chun, who was responsible for a sensitive 2014 remodel of the historic German beer hall Schroeder’s in the Financial District, reassured patrons who cherished the Elite’s Art Deco interior. Chun said his plans were to keep much of the Art Deco interior intact, but with a contemporary interpretation of the decorative style popular in the 1920s and 1930s.

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First a Masonic meeting hall, now a church

The brick and stone building at 2135 Sutter was completed in October 1907.

LANDMARKS | BRIDGET MALEY

Built as the Golden Gate Commandery for the Knights Templar, the distinctive structure at 2135 Sutter Street between Steiner and Pierce Streets was under construction when the 1906 earthquake struck, delaying its completion. Claiming to descend from the Knights Templar of the Crusaders, who in the 12th century served to protect pilgrims to the Holy Land, the Masonic Order of the Knights Templar built the meeting hall there after outgrowing an earlier structure.

When the brick and stone building was finally completed in October 1907, the San Francisco Chronicle reported: “The hall is said to be one of the finest and best appointed temples in the land.” Designed by the architectural firm of O’Brien and Werner, a partnership known for other Masonic-related projects, the building has been an important neighborhood landmark for a century.

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