As reported on the San Francisco Business Times, the corner of Market Street and Buchanan Street (right across from the Mint and the recycling center) will have a new look in the coming year(s). Read the article below: SF Business Times – Condos Struck by Magic
By Larry Cronander
One of the oldest and most respected manufacturers in San Francisco, and one with a direct connection to Hayes Valley, is the McRoskey Mattress Company. Although technically just outside the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association’s boundaries, McRoskey has considered itself a part of the Hayes Valley community since the company built its landmark building at 1687 Market Street in 1925.
Today McRoskey mattresses are still handcrafted to order in San Francisco. The Company is now in the third generation of ownership by the McRoskey family (the fourth and fifth generations also work for the company). McRoskey maintains every order ever placed with it since 1921, and has customers all over the world.
When It All Began
McRoskey Mattress Company was founded in 1899 (112 years ago) by two brothers, Edward and Leonard McRoskey, who came from St. Louis by way of Chicago to sell to mattress manufacturers mattress- making equipment they had invented. Being unsuccessful in this, they decided to manufacture mattresses themselves in San Francisco. Their first factory in the City was located in a flatiron building at the corner of 16th and Harrison Streets, which still exists. Their first retail location was at 1506 Market Street near Van Ness.
San Francisco in 1899 was a boomtown. With a population of over 400,000, it was the largest city west of the Rockies, thriving after the Gold Rush, the Comstock Lode silver bonanza, and the Transcontinental Railroad. It was the West Coast’s center of shipping, construction, finance and commerce.
In those days, there were literally dozens of local mattress manufacturers, but most were in the area destroyed by the Great Earthquake and Fire of 1906. McRoskey was the only mattress manufacturer in San Francisco to survive the disaster, and with 225,000 people homeless, for months afterwards, crowds would gather around the factory and purchase any mattress as soon as it was completed. Everyone needed a new bed!
Market and Gough in the roaring twenties was known as “the Hub” because four streetcar lines converged at the intersection. Gough Street did not go through to Mission Street then (that happened in 1949) and the Gough Street side of the building today was the McRoskey parking lot. Where Fast Frame now is was the Hub Pharmacy, the only 24-hour drug store in the City. The Gaffney Building on Market Street, which now houses the Green Arcade and Bedroom and More, was a meat market, grocery and feed store. The Flax building was the Hermann Safe Company.
Making Mattresses on Market Street
McRoskey mattresses and box springs were built in the Market Street building for 85 years, from 1925 to 2010. In 2010, the manufacturing facility was moved to the foot of Potrero Hill in the Central Waterfront District. The showroom remains to this day in the building at 1687 Market Street. The building is to be included in the new Market Street Masonry Landmark Historic District.
Drop by the Market Street showroom anytime and lie down for a snooze, or to see McRoskey history firsthand. Learn more about McRoskey Mattress Company at www.McRoskey.com.
(For the sake of full disclosure, Larry works for the McRoskey Mattress Company.)
Get your walking shoes on and join HVNA Board member Larry Cronander for a tour in Hayes Valley this Sunday!
Sun, February 12, 1pm – 4pm
Meet at Koshland Park – corner of Page and Buchanan Streets (map)
Join Walk San Francisco and our guide Larry Cronander for an exploration of the colorful past, dynamic present and promising future of Hayes Valley, one of the City’s most rapidly changing neighborhoods. A vibrant early Victorian neighborhood, Hayes Valley later went into decades of decline, particularly with the construction of the Central Freeway in the 1950s. With its demolition, the adoption of the Market-Octavia Plan and the construction of Octavia Boulevard, the neighborhood bloomed again, with renovations, new construction, and innovative interim uses of the spaces left by the freeway’s footprint. We’ll check out official San Francisco landmark buildings, the Hayes Valley Farm, and much more.
We’ll finish at a local pub on Hayes Street, where you can stay if you wish to enjoy the company of your fellow walkers!
February 12, 2012
Meet at Koshland Park – corner of Page and Buchanan Streets
Length: 2-3 hours
$10 for the general public.
Free for WalkSF members—See you there!
Google RSVP form
Please note that in the case of rain, we will cancel the event. Be sure to leave your email address as we will inform you should we need to cancel.
By Jarrod Shappell
If you live in the area, I assume that you have seen the tall classical arches and open atrium of 300 Page St. The beauty of the San Francisco Zen Center, designed by Julia Morgan in 1922, has beckoned me for months, so I recently scheduled a tour.
Upon arriving for my tour I was met by a Zen Priest wearing her robes. She told me that she was on her way to the OccupySF rally and that someone else would have to show me around. She apologized profusely and quickly left. A Zen Priest canceled on me for a protest – not what I expected. Throughout my day I would discover that most of my Zen expectations were misguided and that the beauty of the Zen Center was in its awareness to the needs and activities of neighbor and city.
The San Francisco Zen Center was founded in 1969 by Shunryu Suzuki and practices what they call “engaged Buddhism.” This hospitable posture towards the community began when Suzuki, a small man (as depicted by the life-size art piece in the Zen Center today), invited English-speaking young American students, with no previous Zen training, to sit with him and the Japanese community in a Japanese temple on Bush Street. Suzuki’s practice attracted the spiritually curious beatniks and together they formed one of America’s first zen communities. His hope for this group, or “sangha,” was that their practice would open them up to the diverse and changing world.
My tour with Myoki, my very inviting and informative guide, began with an experience and explanation of zazen meditation. Zazen is a way of “just sitting” that is an invitation to both rest and center, and is central to the Soto Zen school of practice. Taking off my shoes, I walked into the Buddha room. Just being in the dark room peppered with floor pillows lowered
my heart rate. The Zen Center offers free meditation instruction every Saturday morning at 8:30 am, and according to Myoki, each week is different so you can go back more than once and get a different perspective.
After several moments in the Buddha room, we moved to the ornate and tranquil patio garden. Central to the garden is a solar powered fountain. On this sunny October day the water was flowing steadily. The wind spun around the trees, each planted to honor a new abbot as they joined the Zen Center. At the foot of the trees are newly planted edibles that the staff uses for meals (which are available for under $10 for class or meditation participants). The space is both an invitation to peace and an embodiment of their love for the
After begrudgingly exiting the sunny patio, I made my way downstairs and nearly ran into a marching band size set of instruments. These beautiful bells and drums are essential to setting the rhythms of their practice. The slow rumble of the “han drum” was a call to meditation. The ringing “densho bell” an invitation to zazen. As these instruments resonated I couldn’t help
but feel like the Zen Center has been keeping rhythm for Hayes Valley all along, and most of us just don’t know it.
At the Zen Center you get the sense that they really want their space, classes, and practice to invite the neighborhood into this spiritual rhythm. This is seen in all of their current offerings, which include classes, tours, an the very popular Dharma Talks (Saturday, 10:15 a.m.). They have offerings for specific demographics such as the Young Urban Zen group and the Queer Dharma group, and classes such as Meditation in Recovery.
After a trip past the kitchen and through a classroom, Myoki and I walked the stairs to the roof. What a view! Living in a valley you forget the views offered to you by our city’s hills. Sitting in my chair, looking past solar panels and their very own bee colony, I could see all of Hayes Valley. As I sat thinking about all that the Zen Center offers to our community, I was struck by the view. There are few, if any, places with a view of Hayes Valley like the Zen Center. And for me, this is the unique gift that the Zen Center offers our community: perspective.
by Lauren Daley
Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with Joan Hull and John Phillips, owners of the Parsonage Bed and Breakfast at 198 Haight Street, where they recounted some of the memories they have accrued over the past thirty years of living in Hayes Valley. Joan is a retired Unitarian Minister and John is retired from a position at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. They moved to the neighborhood at a time when it was prostitution-ridden and there was rampant drug abuse. The only real community anchor in the neighborhood was the Zen Center and they spoke of how influential the Zen Center and its participants have been and continue to be in providing stability to the neighborhood. Joan and John have witnessed the neighborhood clean up, grow, and change and were spearheads in many community efforts along the way.
The house Joan and John moved into is listed as #164 on the San Francisco Historical Registry. It was built for the McMorry family in 1883. Designed by architect Thomas J. Welsh, the house is an excellent example of late Italianate style and originally featured twenty-two rooms, a detached stable, six fireplaces, two water closets, and one bathroom with a tub. The house was kept and lovingly maintained by the McMorry family for three generations, finally being handed down to the last two sisters, Alice and Grace.
Originally willed to the San Francisco Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco by the two sisters, Joan and John were able to purchase the house in 1983 before it formally went on the market making them only the second family to own the home, which is quite rare for a house that was already one hundred years old. They raised their two children at 198 Haight Street and acted as neighborhood pioneers, helping to clean up the area and give it a sense of community. From the start, Joan and John opened their home to neighborhood and church events and often gave people of the community and Joan’s congregation a place to stay in times of need. Over time their house became known as the “Parsonage” and when Joan and John opened their bed and breakfast in 1995 to the public, the name stuck.
Because the house was so well maintained by the previous family, Joan and John had to do little restoration. They altered a few things to make their home unique to them. One of the most striking additions is a wall fresco adorning their entire dining room. It captures the essence of Northern Italy and incorporates some of the most treasured places they have visited such as Agrigento, a Greek temple located in Sicily. The fresco took over three and a half years to complete: the result is stunning. They also added more modern features like electricity, a fire sprinkler system, and an elevator.
Oral history passed through generations has preserved the knowledge of the personal-lives and stories of the previous people who called this grand place home. Joan was told a story of a maid who lived in the house many years ago. During that time, the neighborhood fire station was located north of Laguna in the hilly southeast part of the Lower Haight. The firemen exercised their horses on Laguna because it was flatter. Apparently, one of the firemen caught the housemaid’s eye and everyday she held up a queen of hearts playing card in the window in hopes that he would notice her. Eventually her persistence paid off. He knocked on the door, asked for the housemaid, and later they married. Of course, Joan thought the story was too good to be true. But, while she was doing some house cleaning in the old servant’s quarters, she found a dusty queen of hearts card in a bureau that confirmed the story! After she recounted this story for me, she promptly produced the same card, now in a beautiful gold frame.
Long gone are the times when the house was occupied with family and with their attendants. Against the devastating fires following the 1906 earthquake, avoiding destruction in the name of Redevelopment, beyond the freeway’s reach and through Hayes Valley’s general decline, the home stood firm. Joan and John said they never felt like Hayes Valley was unsafe, just extremely unwholesome and neglected. Interestingly, they pointed out that because Hayes Valley was so undesirable for so many years, large-scale developers had their attention focused on other areas, allowing Hayes Valley to be more adaptable, vibrant, and intimate for us to enjoy now. Some positive changes they’ve witnessed are people strolling on the street, people taking care of their properties and sidewalks, and people participating in the community. They especially enjoy the diversity and the youth in the neighborhood now. They said that one of the biggest positive changes is the improvement in attention paid to the neighborhood by the police and they gave the late Patricia Walkup a lot of credit in helping to get that accomplished.
Currently, Joan are John are thoroughly enjoying their bed and breakfast, the guests that stay with them, and the Hayes Valley neighborhood they helped to shape.
By Henry Ostendorf
Last week’s demolition of an abandoned warehouse on Market Street uncovered this “3 Kinds – Eat Carnation Mush” billboard at the gateway to Hayes Valley (Market at Franklin Streets). For those who are wondering, “mush” is now better known as polenta. And it’s probably being served at the Zuni Café half a block down Market tonight.
Apparently in the early 20th century Carnation “held the world milk production record for 32 consecutive years.” One particular cow “produced 37,381 pounds of milk during 1920”. So I’m assuming canned Carnation Mush was a way of selling this excess milk to working folk living in the hotel district at the eastern boundary of Hayes Valley.
Yes, Hayes Valley had a hotel district. I discovered this when visiting the unassuming lobby of the Opera Apartments at 145 Fell Street. Found on display there are clippings of neighborhood hotels and the musical history of the area. The text below is from one of the clippings complied by the building’s management.
The Historic Opera Hotel Apartments.
In 1907, the year following the great earthquake and fire, the City was beginning to rebuild…especially around the Civic Center district. The Opera Hotel Apartments on Fell Street between Van Ness and Franklin was built in 1907 and operated for many years as the Hotel St. Cecile, just up the street from the still existing Oak Hotel and the Whiteside Apartments on the corner of Franklin. The Masonic Temple at 25 Van Ness between Oak and Hickory was built in 1912 and loomed large in the area as the scattered building projects began.
The Hotel St. Cecile, with palatial entry and classic Edwardian styling occupied front floors. The laundry and support services for the hotel operated on the ground floor. The floor plans and elevations by Koenig and Pettigrew Architects are for the original Hotel St. Cecile.
In the early years of the twentieth century this hotel began to acquire a reputation for being a temporary home to visiting opera players and stars as San Francisco gained more cultural as well as commercial prominence.
In more colorful days the two major opera houses in the area were the Tivoli Opera House and the Grand Opera House. The Tivoli closed its doors in 1888 and the Grand was closed by the devastating earthquake and fire in 1906.
The opera would continue in San Francisco for the next ten years in various theaters and halls then took up residency at the newly built Municipal Auditorium (now the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium) in 1914 as part of the Panama-Pacific Exposition. Finally in 1932 the Beaux Arts style War Memorial Opera House was built at Van Ness and Grove.
Somewhere along the way the Hotel St. Cecile’s name was change to the Opera Hotel to reflect this operatic connection.
In the early 1950’s a devastating fire gutted the interior of the hotel leaving only the original façade and brick shell. When it was rebuilt the hotel became a five-story apartment building.
As to which opera stars might have frequented the Opera Hotel, no records or clippings have revealed clues. But the hotel now named the Opera Hotel Apartments, honors the connection and it’s place in the fascinating history and evaluation of San Francisco. –Opera Apartments Management.
by Larry Cronander
Join us for a tour of these little-known “floral” streets: Rose, Lily, Hickory, Linden, and more. They are interesting and walkable streets of our neighborhood, often mistakenly called alleys. They are filled with history, architecture, beauty and human interest.
Meet at Koshland Park (the corner of Page and Buchanan) on Sunday, September 25th at 1:00 p.m.
$20.00, $10.00 for Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association members.
All proceeds benefit the HVNA.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
By Larry Cronander
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association’s incorporation, a walking tour sponsored by the Association was given following the Ham and Eggs Fire Breakfast on May 21st, entitled Hayes Valley: Past, Present and Future.
Seventeen friends and neighbors tramped through the hills and vales of our neighborhood for over three hours exploring its colorful past, dynamic present and promising future. It was fun, informative and interactive; impromptu, one of the group even took us into the lobby of his Art Deco apartment building to show us its ornate and beautiful lobby. The Grand Finale was when the owners of the Parsonage opened their doors to us for a tour of the interior of their magnificently restored 1883 Eastlake Victorian, an official landmark of San Francisco, now a bed and breakfast.
There will be more neighborhood tours in the summer, focusing on various aspects of Hayes Valley! The Grand Tour of Past, Present and Future will be an annual event following the Ham and Eggs Fire Breakfast.
Watch for announcements of upcoming tours in the July Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association Flyer and the September Voice.
All proceeds from the Walking Tours benefit the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association.
Read about how one owner of a Victorian was able to make the best of a bad situation. A fire ruined her apartment interior, but she was able to creatively remodel it. Remodeled Victorian
The Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association’s board member Larry Cronander led our first 2011 walking tour of the neighborhood. There will be more upcoming walking tours of the neighborhood happening throughout the summer. Watch for future post on the website/blog as well as notices in the Hayes Valley Voice and the Hayes Valley Flyer.