Tag Archives: bookstore

William Penn Hotel

“William Penn” (2011)

(331/9) 156-160 Eddy Street; Hotel Cecil (1907), Hotel Russell (1911), Hotel Kern (1923), William Penn Hotel (1984). Rooming house with 109 rooms and fifty-four baths. 4B stories; brick structure with terra cotta trim, decorative brickwork; ground level order with rusticated second level and two-story pilaster order above; two-part commercial block composition; Renaissance/Baroque ornamentation; arched entry with coffered vault; lobby: beamed ceiling with cove cornice; Moderne style blade sign with recent neon “Exit Theater”; alterations: some storefronts replaced with aluminum sash. Owners: Gustav Sutro (1907), Roman Patel (1982), City of San Francisco (2007). Architect: Albert Pissis, 1906.

Designed by Albert Pissis, the architect of the Flood Building and the Hibernia Bank Building at 1 Jones Street, the William Penn is one of a few hotels in the district with storefronts that have remained largely intact (note the transom windows, ironwork, and recessed doorways). Next to it is the Empress Hotel.


Ornamental ironwork fire escape and entry arch with coffered vault and fanlight. (2007)


“Exit” (2007)

The well-known and much-loved Albatross Bookstore was a tenant until 1983, when the storefront was leased by the Exit Theater, producer of the annual San Francisco Fringe Festival.

Albatross Books
Source: San Francisco History Center, S.F. Public Library (Photo: Mary Anne Kramer)

Albatross Book Company, 1974.


Filed under Tenderloin


“Dalt” (2007)

(340/7) 34–48 Turk Street; Hotel Dale (1910), Dalt Hotel (1984). Hotel with 193 rooms and seventy-eight baths. 7B stories; brick structure with decorative brick facade; galvanized iron cornice, decorative iron fire escape, decorative brick bands, voussoirs* and keystones; three-part vertical composition; Renaissance/Baroque ornamentation; desk lobby with cove cornices and column capitals; base and entry altered, new marquee. Original owner: H. Dale. Architect: Charles W. Dickey. 1910.

*wedge-shaped elements of flat arches above the windows.

One of the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation’s many acquisitions, the Dalt has been renovated and now serves as so-called supportive housing. A storefront at 48 Turk Street is the site of legendary McDonald’s Bookstore (“A Dirty, Poorly-lit Place for Books”), which for eighty years was known as the place to go for bibliophiles in search of the offbeat and arcane. McDonald’s is even mentioned as “a second-hand bookstore on Turk Street” in Fritz Leiber’s wonderful book Our Lady of Darkness.


“Lobby – Dalt Hotel” (2007)

The lobbies of Tenderloin hotels and apartment buildings were important spaces. As descriptors of residents’ social status, their size and appointments varied with the pretension of the building (see also “Lobby, McAllister Tower”).

Postcard, Hotel Dale

Postcard, Hotel Dale, circa 1910. The Dale was a mid-priced hotel with distinctly bourgeois pretensions.

Leave a comment

Filed under Tenderloin