California Historical Landmarks in San Francisco

California Historical Landmark 760
Laurel Hill Cemetery Site
3333 California Street at Walnut
Laurel Heights

California Historical Landmark #760: Site of Laurel Hill Cemetery
8 February 2004
(Click Photo to Zoom)

Former Site of Laurel Hill Cemetery

The builders of the West, civic and military leaders, jurists, inventors, artists and eleven United States Senators were buried here -- the most revered of San Francisco's hills.

California Registered Historical Landmark No. 760

Laurel Hill Cemetery in San Francisco
Laurel Hill Cemetery, Date Unknown
Photograph From Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
(Click Photo to Zoom)

Lone Mountain Cemetery, named after the towering sandhill just south of Geary Boulevard, opens for business on May 30, 1854 and its first tenants take up lodging three days later. A year earlier, a group of San Franciscans, with profit in mind, had purchased fifty-four sandy acres bounded by today's Presidio Avenue, California Street, Geary Boulevard, and Parker Streets.

The venture is so successful that during the next decade, three other cemeteries are founded on the slopes adjacent to Lone Mountain: Odd Fellows, Masonic, and Calvary. The original Lone Mountain Cemetery changes its name to Laurel Hill Cemetery in 1867.

A century later, nothing will remain of all this: neither the builders of the West, nor the civic and military leaders, nor the jurists, nor the inventors, nor the artists, nor the eleven United States Senators.

Only the Columbarium San Francisco Landmark 209, which was in the Odd Fellows Cemetery, will survive. Only the Columbarium and a plaque half hidden by a hedge.

California Historical Landmark #760: Site of Laurel Hill Cemetery
2 January 2012
(Click Photo to Zoom)

Eight years after I wrote the preceding paragraph, I returned to this site to find that the plaque no longer survives.

Grave of Charles and Arrabella Cora in Laurel Hill Cemetery
Grave of Charles and Arrabella Cora
Photograph From Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
(Click Photo to Zoom

Sacred to the memory of
a native of Italy,
who died May 22, 1856,
aged 40 yrs.

Also his Wife
a native of Baltimore,
Died Feb. 18, 1862,
aged 35 yrs.

Monument to Senator David C. Broderick in Laurel Hill Cemetery
Monument to Senator David C. Broderick
Photograph From Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley
(Click Photo to Zoom)

United States Senator David C. Broderick was buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery after being killed in a duel with David S. Terry, Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. The site of the duel is commemorated by California Historical Landmark 19 in San Mateo County.

It was a popular place for family outings, Laurel Hill, with its rambling pathways, grassy valleys and slopes, flowers, woods alive with warblers, and hidden springs. By 1900, when city officials halted further burials, 38,000 of San Francisco's past figures and founders lay in its grounds, including Hugh H. Toland, one of UCSF's founding fathers.

But the land became too valuable to remain a mere resting place, situated as it was between a pulsing young port city and the younger, still growing residential district of the Richmond. Real estate developers were offering top prices to city administrators who, in 1912, evicted all dead from the premises. The three adjoining cemeteries - the Catholic, Masonic and Odd Fellows - moved on without a fuss, but the fight to conserve Laurel Hill's pioneers for posterity went on for another 30 years.

Finally, in the 1940s, the movement to create a Pioneer Memorial Park was quelled for good. All remains were unearthed and removed -- mostly southward to Colma's Cypress Lawns.

Headstones grand and small were recycled into sculptor's blocks, gutters for Buena Vista Park and breakwaters along the Marina shores.

By the end of World War II, Laurel Hill had been subdivided for housing except for a parcel on Presidio Avenue between California and Bush Streets. The City planned to build a school here, but plans changed and The City sold the property to Fireman's Fund Insurance Company in 1953.

Fireman's Fund built an office complex in the popular International-Suburban-Office-Park school of architecture, sort of a Crown Zellerbach building taking a nap on the grass, and occupied it in 1957.

When Fireman's Fund fled for the suburbs in 1985, they left their building behind, and it was purchased by the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), one of the world's leading biomedical research and education institutions.

Some Missing California Plaques

When we visited the following sites, we were unable to locate a California commemorative plaque.

At some sites, it appeared that a California plaque had never been erected. At other sites, there was a base, but the plaque itself was missing. Some sites without California plaques had other historic markers, but they did not note that the site is a California Historical Landmark.

Adams and Company Building, Sacramento
Anza Expedition Camp, Burlingame
Battle of Land's Ranch, Modoc County
Bear Valley, Mariposa County
Bend City, Inyo County

Birthplace of Freemasonry in California , San Francisco
Booth Home Site, Sacramento
Brannan Cottage, Calistoga
Brannan Store, Calistoga

Brown Home, Red Bluff
Bloody Point, Modoc County
Bonner Grade, Modoc County
Brannan House, Sacramento

California Star Newspaper Site, San Francisco
Camino of Rancho San Antonio, Oakland
Carmel Mission, Carmel
Casa de Cota, San Diego
Casa de Machado y Silvas, San Diego
Casa del Oro, Monterey

Casa Materna, Pajaro
Castro Home, El Cerrito
Chevra Kaddisha Cemetery, Sacramento
China Slough Site, Sacramento
City of Paris Department Store Site, San Francisco

Colton Hall, Monterey
Condemned Bar, Folsom Lake State Recreation Area
Corral Hollow, Tracy
Crabtree (Lotta) Home, Grass Valley

Crocker Gallery, Sacramento
Croll Building, Oakland
Donner Monument, Truckee
Eagle Theatre, Sacramento

Ebbetts Pass, Alpine County
Ebner's Hotel, Sacramento
Evans and Bailey Fight, Modoc County
First Theater in California, Monterey
Fort Janesville, Lassen County

Frémont's Camp, Modoc County
Frog Woman Rock, Mendocino County
Giant Powder Company Site, San Francisco
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco and Marin Counties

Grange Hall Site, El Dorado County
Guillem's Graveyard, Lava Beds National Monument
Gutiérrez Adobe, Monterey
House of Four Winds, Monterey
Hornitos, Mariposa County

Hudson Cabin Site, Calistoga
Indian Arrow Tree, Korbel
Jackson Gate, Amador County

Joaquín Moraga Adobe, Orinda
Junípero Serra's Cross, Ventura County
Kelsey House Site, Calistoga
Lady Adams Building, Sacramento

Larkin House, Monterey
Lassen Grave, Lassen County
Laurel Hill Cemetery Site, San Francisco
Long Wharf Site, San Francisco

Marklee's Cabin Site, Markleeville Marshall's Blacksmith Shop, Kelsey
Mayfield Canyon Battleground, Owens Valley
Methodist Episcopal Church, Placerville
Mills Bank Building, Sacramento

Mission San Buenaventura, Ventura County
Mission San Buenaventura Reservoir, Ventura County
Montez (Lola) Home, Grass Valley

Montezuma, Tuolumne County
Montgomery Hill, San Jose
Napa Valley Railroad Depot, Calistoga
Negro Hill, Folsom Lake State Recreation Area
Noble Pass Route, Lassen Volcanic National Park
Old Custom House, Monterey

Old Emigrant Trail, Modoc National Forest
Old Pacific House, Monterey
Old Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara
Olema Lime Kilns, Marin County
Orleans Hotel Site, Sacramento
Overton Building, Sacramento

Parrott Block Site, San Francisco
Peralta Hacienda, Oakland
Plumas House, Quincy

Plymouth Trading Post, Plymouth
Pony Express Remount Station, Woodfords
Portolá Camp at Crystal Springs, San mateo County
Portolá Camp at Gazos Creek, Bean Hollow State Beach
Portolá Camp at Martini Creek, Montara

Portolá Camp at Pilarcitos Creek, Half Moon Bay
Portolá Camp at Pulgas Water Temple, San Mateo County
Portolá Camp at Purisima Creek, Half Moon Bay
Portolá Camp at San Gregorio State Beach, San Gregorio
Portolá Camp at Tunitas Beach, San Mateo County

Richmond Shipyards District, Richmond
Robert Louis Stevenson House, Monterey
Roop's Fort, Susanville
Royal Presidio Chapel, Monterey

Sacramento Bee Building, Sacramento
Sacramento Union Site, Sacramento
Sailing Launch Comet, Lathrop
Saint James Episcopal Church, Sonora
Salmon Falls, Folsom Lake State Recreation Area

San Joaquin City Site, Tracy
Santa Margarita Asistencia, Santa Margarita
Smartsville, Yuba County
Sobranes Adobe, Monterey
Stage Coach and Railroad, Sacramento
State Indian Museum, Sacramento

Studebaker's Shop, Placerville
Sutter Creek, Amador County
Swift's Stone Corral, Colusa County
Sycamore Tree, Ventura County

Telegraph Hill, San Francisco
Transcontinental Railroad, Lathrop
Union Oil Company Building, Ventura County
Vásquez House, Monterey
Willms Ranch, Knights Ferry

Western Hotel, Sacramento
Whiskeytown, Shasta County
Woodbridge, San Joaquin County
Wood's Ferry and Bridge Site, Woodbridge

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