by Gail Baugh
Image courtesy San Francisco Public Library
Can you imagine an enormous church at the corner of Hayes and Buchanan? The spire reached over 100 feet in the air, and the building itself towered over the surrounding community. The Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church was already there in the 1880’s, and there are photos from the Sacred Heart bell tower showing the Wesley Methodist Episcopal Church and towering spire, as the 1906 fire approaches up Hayes Street from the east. During the 40’s and 50’s, the church became a place for young boys to have a place to play and for the jazz musicians from the Fillmore to practice. Old timers say the church had great acoustics. The church is gone now, abandoned by its congregation before the Second World War and demolished during the Urban Renewal time of the 1960’s, replaced with a new playground and clubhouse for the kids in the neighborhood. The playground remained nearly the same as the day it was built for the next 50 years, installing different playground equipment during this time.
Now is a new time, with new ideas, but the priority of children having a safe place to play never changes. Our new playground and living roof clubhouse will open in early 2011. We hope you will be part of this new play space. Watch the blue tile exterior and planted roof take shape. We expect this new space to become another center to meet and make new friends. Join us as the neighborhood takes another step forward to regenerate our open space.
HVNA is collecting architectural history of the neighborhood, with the hopes of putting together a map and history of interesting places and homes. Please share your architectural history knowledge. Email email@example.com
By Gail Baugh
Picturesque and architecturally eclectic, the mansard-roofed, domed tower house at 700 Hayes Street at Buchanan Street has drawn admiring glances for over 125 years. In the book Victorian Glory, author Paul Duchescherer describes this home as “Italianate/Second Empire/Classical Revival/Queen Anne style…” The large single family residence (over 5000 square feet) has been home to five families since its completion in 1884.
Originally placed 30 feet west of where it stands today, the property included gardens, a small barn that housed the family cow, and a carriage house located behind the family home on Ivy Street. Asa Fisk and his wife Lydia commissioned architect Edward Hatherton, at one time the City Architect for San Francisco, to design their 15-room home in the grand style. The house features 14-foot ceilings on the 1st and 2nd floor, 8 fireplaces, and Cuban mahogany wood detailing throughout. There is a ballroom, roof deck, and botanical conservatory on the top floor. Nearly all of interior features are original, treasured by each family who has lived there.
Mr. Fisk came to San Francisco already a wealthy man. While in Boston he built the first street car line and was elected to the Massachusetts legislature. He and his family moved permanently to San Francisco in 1869, where he became a financial broker, amassing a new fortune through loans and investments. The house cost $20,000 to build, an enormous sum at the time. After Mr. Fisk’s death in 1897, the home was moved to its current location in 1899, and new income properties were completed by about 1900 at 710-714 Hayes and 709-711 Buchanan. The carriage house still stands on Ivy Street.
Gail Baugh and Jim Warshell purchased the house in 2003. They continue to restore it, honoring its original design. The Fisk House is a unique home in San Francisco, and they consider themselves caretakers of a small part of San Francisco’s history. They both love to garden, as did the Fisks. Stop by when you see them working in the gardens. You’ll learn more about their home!