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San Francisco Landmarks

San Francisco Landmark 210: Millwright Cottage and Murphy Windmill 25 January 2004
San Francisco Landmark 210: Millwright Cottage and Murphy Windmill 25 January 2004
San Francisco Landmark 210: Millwright Cottage and Murphy Windmill 1 February 2012
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San Francisco Landmark #210
Millwright Cottage and Murphy Windmill
Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive
Golden Gate Park
Built 1905

Conceived by John McLaren, Adolph B. Spreckels and Reuben Lloyd, the two windmills standing near the Pacific Ocean in the western corners of Golden Gate Park were built at the beginning of the 20th Century to pump water into the park's irrigation system. Powered by the reliable west wind off the Pacific, the windmills pumped as many as 1.5 million gallons daily, rapidly transforming sand dunes into Arcadia.

The northern Dutch Windmill (San Francisco Landmark 147) was designed by Alpheus Bull Jr. and completed in 1902 at a cost of $25,000. The southern windmill, the largest of its kind in the world, was built in 1905 with a $20,000 donation from Samuel Murphy, an executive of Hibernia Bank.

In 1913, motorized pumps were installed in both windmills, and thus began their long neglect until they ceased to function. The Murphy Windmill has lost its sails, fan tail and deck. Interior wood stairs and supports are rotting.

In 1993, Lucas Verbij, a Dutch windmill design and construction expert, was commissioned to study the condition of the South Windmill, and Mr Verbij concluded that the windmill required immediate attention.

In 1998, a citizens' group raised $8 million to renovate western Golden Gate Park including the windmills and the Beach Chalet (San Francisco Landmark 179). The rotating cap on top of the Murphy Windmill was sent to Holland for restoration by Mr. Verbij. Once the restored cap is in place, new sails will be installed and the windmill will be opened for the public to view the working parts.

Other San Francisco landmarks in Golden Gate Park:

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