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National Register of Historic Places in San Francisco

700 Block of Montgomery Street in 1934
14 April 1934
700 Block of Montgomery Street
700 Block of Montgomery Street in 2002.
19 October 2002
700 Block of Montgomery Street
National Register #71000186
Jackson Square Historic District
AKA Barbary Coast
Bounded By Broadway, Sansome, Washington and Columbus
Financial District
Built 1851 and After

Jackson Square contains buildings which are the sole survivors of the early central business district of San Francisco. They are the only physical reminders of the city's beginnings as a great port and mercantile center.

Jackson Square, hastily developed in Gold Rush days as an extension of the original commercial center at Portsmouth Plaza, was in fact built on fill, including abandoned ships [for example Niantic and Apollo] which still underlie some of the buildings.

During the 1850's this newly filled area which directly adjoined the piers to the east was dominated by merchants, banks, professional and government offices, assembly halls and places of entertainment. The wares sold included books, crockery, glassware, stoves, plumbing materials and the like.

During the 1850's and 1860's, Montgomery Street was the principal thoroughfare of the young city, but only a few buildings in the 700 and 800 blocks survived the fires of the 1850's and after and the major earthquakes that struck the city between 1868 and 1906.

After 1870, as the business district moved south and west, many buildings lost their more distinguished occupants. From professional and retail, there was a change to manufacturing and wholesaling: liquor and tobacco dealers, cigar factories, leather works and later printing and paper warehousing.

This trend continued through the early decades of the 1900's. The great depression of the 1930's further weakened both the industrial and commercial bases of the Jackson Square area and many buildings became vacant.

Starting in the early 1950's, the historical and architectural merit of the area was rediscovered by the growing new wholesale furnishings and decorators industry. The attention recently lavished on these old structures well illustrates the primary lesson of Jackson Square's history — its proven adaptability to changing uses without losing its essential historic form.

(Source: adapted from the NRHP Nomination submitted in 1971.)

The Barbary Coast

Another side of this area's history marks San Francisco's legendary appeal to pleasure-seekers as well as goldhunters. For if the buildings on Montgomery and Jackson Streets are the oldest, those on Pacific Avenue too embody a story, and represent institutions, equally old and unique in reputation.

From the 1850's on, the area to the south of Telegraph Hill, especially Broadway and Pacific Avenue, had an unsavory but international reputation, for the harboring, of lawbreakers.

By the 1880's, when the phrase Barbary Coast arose, the foundations had been well set: for half a century lodging houses, saloons, dance halls, cheap shows and related establishments were to dominate the scene, largely populated by sailors, pimps and prostitutes. Almost wholly destroyed in the Earthquake and Fire of 1906, the buildings were rebuilt to substantially the same scale, appearance and uses as before.

The Barbary Coast enjoyed its peculiar reputation until the First World War; but police raids, Prohibition and finally the depression dealt it a series of crushing blows.

The 1939 World's Fair brought a brief revival, when enterprising promoters took advantage of the tourist trade to reopen the old deadfalls with less dangerous, though perhaps more expensive, night-clubs and saloons, dubbed collectively the International Settlement.

By the early 1950's, the buildings on Pacific Avenue, like those on Jackson, Montgomery and elsewhere in the area, stood largely idle and vacant. During the revival started then by the decorators and wholesale furnishers, the Barbary Coast benefited equally with its older and more sober neighbors to the south. There has been a coalescence of two sub-areas different in origin and development but substantially united in scale, basic character and present use.

(Source: adapted from the NRHP Nomination submitted in 1971.)

 

Contributing Buildings Sequenced By Address
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Click here for a printer friendly table.
Name Year Address Remarks
Building at 56 Gold Street190656 Gold StreetThis building and the Moulinie Building directly across Gold Street were acquired by a French sea captain during a voyage to California after the Gold Rush. The two buildings were owned by his family for over a century. The building has been home to Four Monks Winery, a cooperage, a truck storage depot, a gay bar named "Gold Street," and since 1988 the bar and restaurant "Bix."
Hotaling Stables (SF Landmark 11)187032 Hotaling Place
Grogan-Atherton-Lent Building (SF Landmark 27)1906400 Jackson Street
Regency House / Ghirardelli Annex (SF Landmark 16)1860407 Jackson Street
Ghirardelli Building (SF Landmark 15)1853415 Jackson Street
Yeon Building (SF Landmark 24)1906432 Jackson StreetThis 1906 post-Fire building stands on the site of the Tremont Hotel built in 1855, and incorporates portions of that early building. The present building is typical of the architecture of the 1850's.
Presidio and Ferries Railroad Car Barn1891440 Jackson Street
Medico-Dental Building (San Francisco Landmark 14)1861441 Jackson Street
Hotaling Annex East (San Francisco Landmark 13)1860445 Jackson Street
Hotaling Building (San Francisco Landmark 12)1866451 Jackson Street
Moulinie Building (San Francisco Landmark 25)1852458-460 Jackson Street
Hotaling Annex West (San Francisco Landmark 20)1860463-473 Jackson Street
Solari Building East / Larco's Building (San Francisco Landmark 22)1852470 Jackson Street
Solari Building West / Old French Consulate (San Francisco Landmark 23)1852472 Jackson StreetOriginally occupied by C. Lagauterie, first of many wine and liquor merchants to occupy the building. From 1864-65 to 1876 the building also served as the Consulate of France. It is an interesting example of mid-nineteenth century brick and timber construction and is exceptionally well-preserved in basement and walls, which show the original construction seemingly unaltered.
Columbus Savings Bank (San Francisco Landmark 212)1904700 Montgomery Street
Fugazi Bank Building (San Francisco Landmark 52)1909700 Montgomery Street (4 Columbus Avenue)
Building at 712-720 Montgomery1880712-720 Montgomery StreetThis merged structure served as stores, plumber's shop and printing office, and later provided artists' studios during the period when the Montgomery Block flourished. Part of the building was constructed upon timbers from one of the ships abandoned in this area during Gold Rush days when the Bay came up to Montgomery Street. The most likely supposition is that the Georgian, known to lie between Washington and Jackson Streets although generally placed eastward of this location, is the ship in question.
Belli Building / Langerman's Building (San Francisco Landmark 9)1851722 Montgomery Street
Genella Building / Belli Annex (San Francisco Landmark 10)1854728 Montgomery
Golden Era Building (San Francisco Landmark 19)1852732 Montgomery Street
Bank of Lucas, Turner and Company (San Francisco Landmark 26)1854800 Montgomery Street
Old Livery Stable (Four Monks Winery)1910814 Montgomery Street
Building at 438 Pacific Avenue1910438 Pacific AvenueOriginally a Barbary Coast saloon and later a Chinese fortune cookie factory.
Building at 440 Pacific Avenue1911440 Pacific AvenueProbably built as a house of pleasure, this spacious building became a transient lodging house after the decline of the Barbary Coast.
Old Fire House1908449 Pacific AvenueErected in 1908 to house Engine Company Number One. A previous engine house, completed on the site in 1872, had been completely demolished in the 1906 Fire and Earthquake. Engine Company Number One is the lineal descendant of Empire Engine Company Number One of the old volunteer Fire Department organized in 1850, of which David Broderick, later U. S. Senator, was captain.
Kentucky Stables Building1906450 Pacific AvenueConstructed shortly before the 1906 Fire and Earthquake, this building survived that catastrophe with no major damage. Its original and long time function was as a carriage house, livery stables, and associated uses. The upper story was a Chinese cigar factory. The side of the building evidences its previous usage - the windows through which hay and grain for horse feed were transferred being apparent.
Barbary Coast Building1907470 Pacific AvenueBuilt after the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, the ground floor housed a saloon, a dance hall and a wine warehouse. The upper floor housed transient lodgings.
Little Fox1907529 Pacific AvenueOriginally a saloon, dance hall and lodging house. Altered in the 1940's when the old Barbary Coast was revived as the International Settlement. Altered again around 1970 for use as a theatre using many ornate decorative features from the demolished Fox Theatre on Market Street. I vaguely recall a stage production of One Flew Over the Cuckcoo's Nest here with Johnny Weissmuller, Jr., playing the role of Chief Bromden.
Old Hippodrome1907551 Pacific AvenueReconstructed in 1907, following the general outlines of the previous dance hall and saloon, one of the most notorious of the Barbary Coast. Designed to lure sailors and gay blades into the dance hall, it boasted a well-recessed exterior foyer with a continuous facade of double swinging doors leading to the interior. It underwent a revival during the International Settlement days of the 1940's, when restoration was carefully and gaudily carried out.
Building at 560 Pacific Avenue1910560 Pacific AvenueThis building, which was originally a saloon, has housed a night club, an art gallery, and a space for public assemblies. It once had a stage at the rear.
Spider Kelly's570 Pacific AvenueBuilt a pre-Fire structure, this building originally housed two hotels, the Pacific and the Nottingham, then the Seattle Hotel. It also included Spider Kelly's Bar and Dance Hall on the ground floor - one of the infamous sailors' hangouts of the Barbary Coast - when Pacific was known as "Terrific Pacific Street". Like the rest of the street it was forced into decline by the closing of the Barbary Coast about 1917 and Prohibition in 1920.
Brighton Express1907580 Pacific AvenueConstructed on a site formerly occupied by Diana's saloon, this small survivor of the Barbary Coast, with its double swinging doors and stained glass windows, has a saloon appearance largely unchanged since the palmy days before Prohibition.
Ghirardelli Annex1867617 Sansome StreetBuilt here around 1867 and rebuilt after the 1906 disaster, this building was first the place of business for Sabatie and Maubec, early grocers and wine merchants, and leadres in the French colony. Between 1894 and 1904, it was the retail establishment of Ghirardelli and Company; it later housed industrial firms and lodgings.
Burr Building1859530 Washington StreetConstructed by E. Willard Burr, financier and Mayor of San Francisco 1856-1859. From 1874 t0 1900, it was the site of an extensive pioneeer effort at promotion of a new California product - the manufacture of champagne. Isadore Landsberger and Arpad Harazsthy, son of Count Harazsthy who had introduced commerial vitivulture to California, in 1866 formed a company to make champagne and deal in local wines. Subsequently, the famed "Eclipse" brand of champagne was made here.
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