Bliss & Faville (1898-1925)
The original tavern on Mt. Tamalpais was built at the upper terminus of the Mt. Tamalpais & Muir Woods Railway in 1896. It was destroyed by fire in 1923 and replaced in 1924 by a more modest building designed by Bliss & Faville. The Bliss & Faville building was razed in the 1950s after a windstorm destroyed the roof.
(Click Photos to Zoom)
Walter Danforth Bliss was born in Nevada. William Baker Faville was born in San Andreas, California. They met while attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
They left MIT in 1895 to work for McKim, Mead & White in New York City. In 1898, they moved to San Francisco and formed a partnership.
The partnership often imitated buildings designed by McKim, Mead & White. In those days, architectural critics did not fetishize originality for its own sake. Appropriation was praised rather than condemned:
The general resemblance of the [Bank of California to] the Knickerbocker Trust Company in New York will, of course, strike everyone who is familiar with the latter building; but the architects are to be congratulated rather than condemned for their frank and intelligent attempt to make under happier conditions a revised version of a good thing.
(Architectural Record 1906: 471)
Bliss and Faville terminated their partnership amicably in 1925.
|Name||Year||Address||City||Sort Address||Sort Name|
|Atascadero Administration Building||1914||6500 Palma Avenue||Atascadero||Palma||Atascadero Administration Building|
|Augustus Taylor House||3 Altree Court||Atherton||Altree||Augustus Taylor House|
|Edna Hopkins Lowery House||41 Lowery Drive||Atherton||Lowery||Edna Hopkins Lowery House|
|Fred McNear House||60 Parkwood Drive||Atherton||Parkwood||Fred McNear House|
|Christian DeGuigne||891 Crystal Spring Road||Hillsborough||Crystal Spring||Christian DeGuigne|
|Tavern on Mt. Tamalpais||1924||Mt. Tamalpais||Marin County||Mt. Tamalpais||Tavern on Mt. Tamalpais|
|Oakland Hotel||1912||260 13th Street||Oakland||!Street 13 0260||Oakland Hotel|
|Oakland Public Library||1902||659 14th Street||Oakland||!Street 14 0659||Oakland Public Library|
|Walter Danforth Tobey House||1001 Hamilton Avenue/567 Hale Street||Palo Alto||Hamilton||Walter Danforth Tobey House|
|Southern Pacific Depot||1926||5th and I Streets||Sacramento||!Street 05||Southern Pacific Depot|
|Carnegie Library - Richmond Branch||1914||351 9th Avenue||San Francisco||!Avenue 09 0352||Carnegie Library - Richmond Branch|
|Residence on Baker Street||1918||2332 Baker Street||San Francisco||Baker 2332||Residence on Baker Street|
|Eastman Kodak Building||1911||241 Battery Street||San Francisco||Battery 0241||Eastman Kodak Building|
|Residence on Broadway||1917||2100 Broadway||San Francisco||Broadway 2100||Residence on Broadway|
|Flood (James Leary) Mansion||1912||2222 Broadway||San Francisco||Broadway 2222||Flood (James Leary) Mansion|
|Residence on Broadway||1899||2898 Broadway||San Francisco||Broadway2898||Residence on Broadway|
|Pacific Telephone Building||1924||444 Bush Street||San Francisco||Bush 0444||Pacific Telephone Building|
|Bank of California||1908||400 California Street||San Francisco||California 0400||Bank of California|
|Geary Theater||1910||415 Geary Street||San Francisco||Geary 0425||Geary Theater|
|Savings Union Bank||1908||1 Grant Avenue||San Francisco||Grant 0001||Savings Union Bank|
|Residence on Jackson Street||1921||1950-1960 Jackson Street||San Francisco||Jackson 1950||Residence on Jackson Street|
|Residence on Lyon Street||1916||2233 Lyon||San Francisco||Lyon 2233||Residence on Lyon Street|
|Southern Pacific Headquarters||1916||1 Market Street||San Francisco||Market 0001||Southern Pacific Headquarters|
|Matson Building||1923||215 Market Street||San Francisco||Market 0215||Matson Building|
|Morris Plan Co.||1940||715-719-Market Street||San Francisco||Market 0715||Morris Plan Co.|
|Building||1940||721 Market Street||San Francisco||Market 0721||Building|
|Geary Theater Annex||1909||333 Mason Street||San Francisco||Mason 0333||Geary Theater Annex|
|California State Building||1926||350 McAllister Street||San Francisco||McAllister 0350||California State Building|
|Rialto Building||1910||116 New Montgomery Street||San Francisco||New Montgomery 0116||Rialto Building|
|Residence on Pacific Avenue||1905||2520 Pacific Avenue||San Francisco||Pacific 2520||Residence on Pacific Avenue|
|Residence on Pacific Avenue||1906||3001 Pacific Avenue||San Francisco||Pacific 3001||Residence on Pacific Avenue|
|Residence on Pacific Avenue||1900||3020 Pacific||San Francisco||Pacific 3020||Residence on Pacific Avenue|
|Bank of Italy in Hallidie Plaza||1920||1 Powell Street||San Francisco||Powell 0001||Bank of Italy in Hallidie Plaza|
|Saint Francis Hotel||1907||335 Powell Street||San Francisco||Powell 0335||Saint Francis Hotel|
|Saint Francis Hotel Streetlights||1910||335 Powell Street||San Francisco||Powell 0335||Saint Francis Hotel Streetlights|
|University Club||1912||800 Powell Street||San Francisco||Powell 0800||University Club|
|Residence on Presidio Terrace||1909||18 Presidio Terrace||San Francisco||Presidio Terrace 0018||Residence on Presidio Terrace|
|Residence on Scott Street 2800||1905||2800 Scott Street||San Francisco||Scott 2800||Residence on Scott Street 2800|
|Bourdette Building||1903||90 Second Street||San Francisco||Sedcond 0090||Bourdette Building|
|Marine's Memorial Club||1927||609 Sutter Street||San Francisco||Sutter 0609||Marine's Memorial Club|
|Metropolitan Club||1916||640 Sutter Street||San Francisco||Sutter 0640||Metropolitan Club|
|Bliss Residence||1915||2990 Vallejo Street||San Francisco||Vallejo 2990||Bliss Residence|
|Masonic Temple||1913||25 Van Ness Avenue||San Francisco||Van Ness 0025||Masonic Temple|
|Residence on Washington Street||1908||3540 Washington Street||San Francisco||Washington 3540||Residence on Washington Street|
|Residence on Washington Street||1900||3638 Washington Street||San Francisco||Washington 3638||Residence on Washington Street|
|Hellman-Ehrman Mansion||1903||Highway 89||Sugar Pine Point State Park||Highway 89||Hellman-Ehrman Mansion|
|Tahoe Tavern (Demolished 1969)||1901||West Lake Boulevard||Tahoe City||West Lake||Tahoe Tavern (Demolished 1969)|
|United States Post Office||1918||315 West Sycamore Street||Willows||Sycamore 0315||United States Post Office|
The 1976 Department of City Planning Architectural Survey was not kind to this building. The rating for architectural design was only 1 on a scale that ranges from -2 to 5.
The comment on the survey form read: "Lumpy, heavy but pleasant. Quite disappointing for this site."
The house as seen in the 1960 movie, Portrait in Black, starring Lana Turner, Anthony Quinn, Sandra Dee, John Saxon, Anna May Wong and many others. At the end of the movie, Anthony Quinn falls to his death on the Baker Street stairs while chasing Sandra Dee out a window and along the rooftop - or a sound-stage rooftop with more elaborate dormers.
Note how unobstructed the view was in 1960 compared to 2019. Although San Francisco has a Tree Dispute Resolution Ordinance (Article 16.1 of the Public Works Code), trees are contentious here.
This beautifully proportioned, exquisitely detailed Dutch Colonial brick house was Walter Bliss' first commission; it was built for his own family. The house not only has white marble trim, but massive concrete foundations and piers set into rock. When one of the towering chimneys toppled in the 1906 earthquake, all of the chimneys were removed a s a precaution.
Source: Here Today: San Francisco's Architectural Heritage by the Junior League of San Francisco, Chronicle Books, 1968
When we photographed the building, it housed the German Consulate General San Francisco.
Both houses turn a side to Lyon Street to face each other across a landscaped open space. The uphill house on the corner (2255 Lyon Street) turns its back on prestigious Pacific Avenue.
Although this configuration is not typical in San Francisco, it is not uncommon in older residential neighborhoods where homes were designed by architects for affluent clients. Other examples are 2600 Washington Street by Edgar A. Mathews, 2241 Sacramento Street by Edward E. Young, and Mark Zuckerberg's home above Dolores Park.
Our website attributed both of these houses to Polk until a San Francisco architect contacted us with convincing evidence that 2233 Lyon Street was designed by Bliss & Faville.
When we photographed this building, a brass Egyptian Consulate sign was mounted by front door.
According to the website, Curbed San Francisco, the Egyptian government bought the property in 1960s and used it as their San Francisco consulate before moving operations to Los Angeles in 2016 and listing the building for sale at $22M.
In October 2019, the building was still on the market with the price reduced to $16M. The photographs on Sotheby's website showed a spacious but modest interior with no paneling, exotic hardwoods, chandeliers or other grand architectural gestures.
When this building was constructed, it was partly hidden from Market Street by other buildings which were demolished in 1973 to create space for Hallidie Plaza.
Bliss and Faville won a design contest entered by eleven invited competitors. Their Renaissanc/Baroque design resembles the University Club in New York City designed by McKim, Mead and White. An article in Architect and Engineer considered the line between inspiration and plagiarism but decided in favor of Blisss and Faville, stating that this is a building of unusual distinction.
This Renaissance Palazzo is built of reinforced concrete clad with red brick and ornamented with terra cotta.
Walter Bliss designed the Tahoe Tavern for his father. Located a half mile south of Tahoe City, the brown-shingled hotel with its multiple gables was a favorite vacation spot for the wealthy from the Bay Area. Socialites from San Francisco ferried across to the Oakland Mole and took a train to the Tahoe Tavern, arriving on special spur rails that carried them directly to the hotel.
Source: NRHP Nomination for the Southern Pacific Railroad Company's Sacramento Depot
Walter Danforth Bliss designed this Lake Tahoe summer home for San Francisco businessman I. W. Hellman. It was named Pine Lodge.
The building site was a sand hill. Tons of topsoil were brought from the back country to provide the base for lawns and gardens. Most of the building materials for the house were obtained locally, the granite from Meeks Bay and the lumber from Hobart Mills, north of Truckee.
The house was equipped with the modern utility systems including electric lights and complete indoor plumbing. Steam generators produced electricity until commercial power was available in 1927. Water was obtained from General Creek and later pumped directly from the Lake.
Hellman's daughter, Florence Hellman Ehrman inherited the estate.
In 1965 the house and grounds were acquired by the California State Park System. The house is maintained as a house museum and as an example of the opulent tradition in Tahoe summer homes.
Source: California Department of Parks and Recreation