Tag Archives: rooming house

Geographic Heart of the Tenderloin


“Lower Leavenworth” (2007 Survey)

The area that forms the Uptown Tenderloin Historic District was entirely constructed in the years between the earthquake and fire of 1906 and the Great Depression. Social, economic and legal forces together made the most marketable structure a three- to seven-story, multi-unit residential apartment, hotel, or apartment-hotel constructed of brick or reinforced concrete.


“View from the Empire Market” (2007 Survey)

A limited number of architects, builders and clients produced a visually consistent, classically oriented group of buildings that conform to the same vocabulary of ornament and utilize the same decorative materials: brick or stucco facings enhanced with molded galvanized iron, terra-cotta, or cast concrete.


“Leavenworth above Eddy” (2007 Survey)

The reconstructed district’s hotels and apartments appealed to those who wanted or needed to live within walking distance of downtown: people who couldn’t afford or didn’t want to set up independent households, young professionals and young couples not settling in a single city or house, clerical and service employees whose incomes didn’t stretch far enough to permit full apartments or suburban flats, and seasonal workers.

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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.

Source: California State Library

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

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” (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.

Source: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library

William “Pops” Melander, 1947.


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“Hotel Elm” (2003)

(333/11) 364 Eddy Street; Hotel Eaton (1911), Hotel Rand, Hotel Elm (1929). Rooming house with eighty-seven rooms and forty-eight baths. 5B stories; brick structure with glazed brick veneer; four-story galvanized iron bay windows and cornice; two-part vertical composition; Renaissance/Baroque ornamentation; vestibule: marble walls, paneled ceiling, tile and marble floor; lobby: desk space with Ionic columns and beams. Alterations: marquee at entry, security gate. Original owners: R. J. Sullivan and George Gale. Architect: L.M. Gardener. 1911.

The Tenderloin’s architectural character—its personality, if you will—is defined as much by its blade signs as it is by the buildings themselves.


“Night Sign – Elm” (2003)

The Elm’s neon blade sign had been restored just a few days before I took this photograph, so it was absolutely pristine. The bluish tint of the tubes spelling out “hotel” indicates that the tubes are brand-new. As white tubes age they become yellowed, so that blue tells a little story of its own.


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Allen Hotel


“Allen Hotel” (2011)

(337/1) 401-411 Eddy Street; Holckele Hotel (1907), Allen Hotel. Rooming house with twenty-nine rooms and eight baths, and stores. 3B stories; brick structure; brickwork quoins and flat arches, galvanized iron cornice; two-part vertical composition; Renaissance/Baroque ornamentation; vestibule: pedimented entry, tile floor; lobby: cornice molding; signs: neon blade sign “Allen Hotel”. Alterations: security gate, storefronts. Original owner: L. Holckele. Architect: Julius E. Krafft. 1906.

Born in Germany and educated at Stuttgart, Julius E. Krafft immigrated to America in 1872, spent a couple of years in Chicago, and moved to San Francisco in 1874. For twelve years he ran the drafting department for T.J. Welsh (Welsh and Carey)* after which he opened his own business. Among the buildings designed by Krafft are the St. George Apartments, Hotel Verona, and the Allen Hotel in the Tenderloin, St. Paulus Lutheran Church at 999 Eddy, a Lutheran church in Alameda, and numerous private residences. G. Albert Lansburgh, architect of the Warfield and Golden Gate Theaters, worked for Krafft while studying at UC Berkeley.

*Buildings in the Tenderloin designed by Welsh and Carey include the Rocklin (Western) Hotel, Hotel Proctor (Pacific Bay Inn), and an apartment building at 965 Geary.


“Allen” (2004)

Note how the pediment above the entrance is reflected in the shape of the blade sign.


“Night Sign – Allen” (2003)

Blade signs were once a dominant feature of central city streetscapes. Of those that remain in the Tenderloin, some still have neon fixtures and many of these in recent years have been restored.

Source: San Francisco History Center, S.F. Public Library

Eddy above Leavenworth, 1947. In the mid-40s, the Tenderloin’s biggest problem was double-parked cars. The tracks are for the 31 streetcar line, which was discontinued two years after this photo was taken and is now the 31 Balboa trolley line.

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