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San Francisco Landmark 10: Genella Building in 2002
Genella Building
19 October 2002
Golden Era, Genella and Belli Buildings in Jackson Square
Golden Era, Genella and Belli Buildings
26 May 2003
(Click Photos to Zoom)
San Francisco Landmark #10
Genella Building
722 Montgomery Street Between Washington and Jackson
Built 1853

The foundation of this three-story brick building was constructed of the same heavy timbers, crisscrossed like a raft, as is its neighbor the Belli Building. Less ornate in its decoration than the Belli Building, it has gold and black trim on the first floor window frames which contrasts with the red brick walls.

Although the present owner, Melvin Belli, considers the building to have been constructed in 1849, most records indicate that it was erected in 1853-54 by Joseph Genella for his china and glassware business as well as his residence. Sources indicate that Genella had moved by 1860 although he maintained ownership of the building for some time Tenants during this period included bullion dealers, merchandise brokers, a Spanish newspaper (La Voz de Chile), and mining company offices.

A plaque here certifies that the first Masonic Lodge meeting in San Francisco was held on the site in 1849.

As early as 1854, the upper floor was used as a meeting hall for the Odd Fellows. The use of the area for such purposes continued through the 1860's and l870's with the Ancient Jewish Order KSB and the American Protestant Association holding lodge meetings here. Later, perhaps in the l880's, the third floor became known as Xenon's Hall.

A bath house in the 1880's, the building housed a puppet theater in the l920's and 1930's as well as a garment factory in the 1940's before being restored in the 1950's to it's present [1968] use as offices and an antique shop.

Source: Planning Commission Resolution No. 6275 dated 3 October 1968.

The Genella Building has been vacant since it was damaged in the Loma Prieta Earthquake on 17 October 1989.

The Genella Building is in the Jackson Square Historic District.

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