Tag Archives: building ad

Cultural Imperatives and the Riviera Hotel

Cultural-Imperatives

“Cultural Imperatives” (2003)

(324/12) 420 Jones Street; Avon Hotel, Riviera Hotel (1982). Stores and hotel with thirty-eight rooms and seventeen baths. 4B stories; brick structure; molded brick around windows, galvanized iron cornice; two-part vertical composition; Renaissance/Baroque ornamentation; vestibule: decorative frame, mosaic floor, cornice molding; lobby: wood paneling, decorative iron elevator; corner blade sign with neon removed; alterations: security gate, storefronts. Owner: Mrs. Barbara Neff of Seattle (1907), Conard House (1983). Architects: Crim and Scott. 1907.

The Riveira (sic!) Hotel is the brown building with white trim in the background of this photograph, one of my favorite images. Approaching the hotel from the entrance side on Jones Street, I was searching for an engaging perspective when I heard a clangorous but muffled sound of drums and gongs being pounded in erratic syncopation, much like Chinese lion dance music. I was irresistibly drawn around the corner onto Ellis Street to the music’s source, an odd little building that had often piqued my curiosity.

A drab, one-story storefront had been transformed by a porte-cochere that imitated traditional Chinese architecture. From a distance the illusion was fairly convincing. Closer scrutiny revealed a sagging patchwork of the cheapest and strangest materials. Blue barrel tiles were contrived of aluminum soft drink cans covered by sheets of some indeterminate material, and the peeling, red-painted plywood was clearly interior grade. Above the entrance, golden Chinese pictographs affirmed a cultural animus, but the facade was otherwise inscrutable and any clues to the building’s function were concealed behind curtained windows. Adding to the mystery was the ritualistic music now emanating from within. Compelled to photograph the peculiar structure, I thereby found the way to frame the Riviera. A short time after I captured this image, the little building was leveled by a bulldozer. The lot has remained empty ever since.

Sunday Morning_Riviera Hotel.

“Sunday Morning – Riviera Hotel” (2012)

(323/6) 415 Jones Street; Mendel Apartments. Apartment building with seventy two-room units. Original owner: Dr. Louise C. Mendel. Architects: Frederick H. Meyer, 1912; addition Grace Jewett, 1919.

(324/12) 420 Jones Street; Riviera Hotel.

(324/11) 380–386 Ellis Street; empty lot.

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Running Roughshod Over History

As anyone who has ever watched Antiques Roadshow can attest, the surest way to utterly destroy an antique’s value is to “restore” it, to make it look like new. Sadly, this is exactly what Randy Shaw has done with several of the Tenderloin’s lovely old, faded building ads, defacing their intrinsic beauty and nullifying their historicity. Nice work, Mr. Shaw. There is a big difference between old building ads and contemporary murals, a difference you clearly don’t comprehend. If you don’t want to take my word for it, I strongly suggest you consult knowledgable art historians before running off half-cocked and ruining any more neighborhood treasures.

Funded by a thirty-five thousand dollar Community Challenge grant overseen by Shaw’s Tenderloin Housing Clinic, which manages the City’s master lease SROs — arguably some of the worst-run residential hotels in San Francisco — the supposed restoration was carried out by Mission District muralists Precita Eyes. Adept at Byzantine maneuvering of both neighborhood and City Hall politics to serve his own ends, Shaw wants to attract affluent tourists to the neighborhood and is currently planning a Tenderloin history museum.

Intersect

“Intersect” (2006)

The building ads seen here have thus far been untouched. Let us hope they remain so.

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Lower Turk

Lower-Turk-

“Lower Turk” (2007 Survey)

(339/9) 162-166 Turk Street; El Rosa Hotel, Helen Hotel (1985). 1906.

(339/8) 150 Turk Street; Star Garage. 2B stories; reinforced concrete structure; stucco facade with galvanized iron column order, swags at ground level, and huge elliptical fanlight; composition: enframed window wall; Renaissance/Baroque ornamentation. Alterations: none. Original owner: Harry R. Bogart 1921. Architect: Joseph L. Stewart. 1921.

(339/7) 136-140 Turk Street; The Earle Lodgings, Boston Hotel (1907). Lodging house with forty-one rooms and two baths. 3B stories; brick structure with stucco facade; blue and gold tile storefront, galvanized iron cornice; two-part commercial composition; Renaissance/Baroque ornamentation; tile vestibule; lobby: stair landing with remodeled finishes. Alterations: “Blue and Gold” letters removed from storefront; former tenant: Blue and Gold Bar (1983), now San Francisco Rescue Mission (2007). Original owner: Mrs. Alicia McCone. Architect: Charles M. Rousseau. 1907.

(339/6) 130-134 Turk Street. Store and restaurant, converted to lodging house by 1981 with eighty-two rooms (possibly cribs) and five baths. 3B stories; reinforced concrete with stucco facade; facade scored like stone masonry, galvanized iron cornice; two-part vertical composition; Renaissance/Baroque ornamentation; alterations: belt course over ground level removed, windows boarded up, storefront. Original owner: Emma Dixon. Architect unknown. 1923.

(339/5) 124-126 Turk Street; Hotel Portola, Marathon Hotel, Lowell Hotel, Argue Hotel, Camelot Hotel. Rooming house with fifty-seven rooms and thirty-two baths. 6B stories; faded painted sign on upper west wall for “Hotel Portola . . . Rooms . . .”. Alterations: windows replaced with aluminum and all ornament and finishes except decorative iron fire escape on facade altered since 1983. Architect: Albert Farr. 1907.

(339/4) 116-120 Turk Street; The Elite lodgings, Hotel Holly, Porter Hotel, Youth Hostel Centrale. Rooming house with twenty-six rooms and six baths. 3B stories; brick structure with glazed brick facade; terra cotta wreath over entry and galvanized iron trim and cornice; 2-part commercial composition; Renaissance/Baroque ornamentation; vestibule: mosaic floor with “116”; lobby: stair landing with cornice molding. Alterations: storefront; former tenant: Port Hole Bar. Original owner: Mary A. Deming. Architect: E.A. Hermann. 1910.

(339/3) 101-121 Turk Street;) Hotel Hyland (1907, Hotel Young (1908), Hotel Empire (1911), Chapin Hotel (1920), Hotel Raford (1923), Tyland Hotel. Stores and rooming house with 115 rooms and fifty baths. 4B stories; brick structure; stucco facade, moldings, cartouches, bosses, beltcourses; three-part vertical composition; Renaissance/Baroque ornamentation. Alterations: ground level, storefronts, vestibule, aluminum windows, cornice removed. Site of 1966 Compton Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria, first documented U.S. riot by gay and transgender men and women against police. Original owner: Woodward Investment Company. Architect: A.M. Edelman. 1907.

(340/12) 108-120 Taylor Street; St. Ann Hotel, Hotel Lennox, Bard Hotel, Notel Winfield, Hotel Warfield (1923). 1907.

Interspersed among the Tenderloin’s densely-packed residential buildings are various commercial buildings designed to serve residents’ needs, mainly stores and auto repair and parking garages. There are also churches, union halls, a YMCA, a theater, and film exchange buildings.

Lower-Turk-Street_1920
Source: California State Library

Lower Turk, 1920. Note the glass-paned marquee over the entrance to the Camelot Hotel.

Port-Hole_1942
Source: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library

The Port Hole, 1942. Newscopy: “The Port Hole, 126 Turk Street, provides its patrons with song and rhythm de luxe. Above are (left to right) Bud Seghiari, ‘groan box’ artist extraordinary; Evelyn Thompson, Sadie Shipley and Judy Blair (seated on the piano), mistresses of song; Dave Olson at the piano and Larry Duran with guitar.”

In 1948 the Port Hole moved to the first block of Mason Street, where it continued to operate into the 1950s. During the years that Treasure Island was an active US Navy base, the Tenderloin bars favored by on-leave sailors were the Port Hole, the Blue and Gold at 136 Turk, and the Coral Sea at 220 Turk.

165-Turk

“165 Turk” (2007)

(343/17) 161-165 Turk Street; El Crest Apartments, 165 Turk Street Apartments. Twenty-one two- and three-room apartments. 6B stories; reinforced concrete structure; stucco facade; two-part vertical composition; Spanish Gothic ornamentation; vestibule: tile floor, paneled walls, cornice moldings; storefront: largely intact including vestibule with tile floor. Alterations: aluminum windows. Original owner: F.W. Hess. Designer: James H. Hjul, engineer. 1923.

The former El Crest Apartments are now owned and operated by the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation. The storefront at 161 Turk Street (renumbered 165) was formerly the Record Exchange, home of Bill Melander’s world-famous record collection.

Record Exchange
Source: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library

The Record Exchange, 1947.

Bill-Melander-
Source: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library

William “Pops” Melander, 1947.

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Eagle Apartments

Eagle-Apartments-

“Eagle Apartments” (2011)

(336/16) 545 Eddy Street; garage. 2B stories; reinforced concrete structure; stucco facade, decorative belt courses and window moldings, raised parapet at center; two-part commercial composition; Byzantine ornamentation. Alterations: steel roll-up doors. Original owner: Bell Brothers. Architect: attributed to E.H. Denke. 1920.

(336/15) 555 Eddy Street; Eagle Apartments, Palisade Apartments. Stores and apartment building with thirty two- and three-room units. 4B stories; brick structure; flat arches over windows, balconies in upper level, galvanized iron cornice; three-part vertical composition; Renaissance/Baroque ornamentation; vestibule: entry with pilaster order, marble wainscoting, paneled walls, coffered ceiling; lobby: paneled wainscoting, picture and cornice moldings. Alterations: security gate, aluminum door. Original owner: Samuel Dusenbury. Architect: O’Brien Brothers. 1910.

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