National Register of Historic Places in San Francisco

National Register #07001391: San Francisco State Teacher's College Richardson Hall and the Contributing Wall Structure
Laguna Street at Hermann and Market Streets

13 January 2012
(Click Photo to Zoom)

National Register #07001391
San Francisco State Teachers College
55 Laguna Street
Built 1924-1935

San Francisco State Teachers College was founded on Nob Hill in 1899 as San Francisco State Normal School. When the school was destroyed by the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, it relocated to the present property bounded by Laguna, Haight, Buchanan and Hermann Streets.

In 1921, San Francisco State Normal School was renamed San Francisco State Teachers College. The current campus was built over the next decade. In 1935, after the new campus was completed the school was again renamed - this time to San Francisco State College.

The following is quoted from the California Office of Historic Preservation:

The San Francisco State Teacher's College complex consists of four contributing buildings, one contributing wall structure, and one noncontributing building arranged around the periphery of the site with the central area of the campus occupied by parking lots. The four contributing buildings were designed by California State Architect George McDougall between 1924 and 1935, all in the Spanish Colonial Revival style.

The San Francisco State Teacher's College was listed at the state level of significance...for its association with the development of formal teacher training in California and as one of the few surviving examples of the Teacher's Colleges that formed the basis of California's State College and university system.

The four buildings designed and built by the California State Architect and the WPA between 1924 and 1935 physically embody a major achievement in the development of California teacher education. From 1924 until 1957 the San Francisco State Teacher's College educated a substantial number of California teachers and the majority of teachers in the Bay Area. The San Francisco Normal School and the subsequent Teacher's College was a leader in educational theory, program innovation, and child development. Of the several campuses built during this first phase of public college development throughout the state, San Francisco State is one of only two campuses that survive in its original setting.

Three contributing buildings are San Francisco Landmarks:

In the early 1950's, San Francisco State College, relocated to a new campus near Lake Merced. In 1974, it upgraded to its present name, San Francisco State University.

Upon the departure of San Francisco State College, the Extension Division of UC Berkeley acquired the property. I fondly remember taking photography courses here and developing black and white prints in the Richardson Hall darkroom.

In 2003, the UC Extension Division relocated to downtown San Francisco. Since then, the property has been vacant and decaying as proposals to build high density housing rise and are shot down. A recent proposal was reported in the 12 August 2011 edition of San Francisco Business Times:

The San Francisco Planning Commission has unanimously approved an affordable housing plan for 55 Laguna St., a 440-unit upper Market Street housing development that has been in limbo since the project's last developer went bankrupt in spring of 2009.

Under the new agreement, new developer Wood Partners will provide 32 units of affordable housing onsite and pay a $6.3 million affordable housing fee to the Mayor's Office of Housing. The money will be used to prepay a ground lease to the University of California, which owns the property. Wood Partners will also let the Mayor's Office of Housing "buy back" an additional 18 units of affordable housing if the agency is able to secure funds from other sources by next July.

The development also includes 110 units of affordable senior housing that nonprofits Mercy Housing and OpenHouse will build. That project will target lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors. The Mayor's Office of Housing is hoping construction on the first 55-unit building of the senior housing will start in 2013 and the second in 2015.

National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933

President Franklin Roosevelt came into office during the worst depression the nation had ever known. Fulfilling a campaign promise to put people to work, he instituted the New Deal to bring economic recovery to the depression-wrought country.

The National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) of 1933 authorized the Public Works Administration (PWA) to provide jobs, stimulate business activity, and increase purchasing power through the construction of permanent and socially useful public works. The Federal Government and local city, county and state governments formed a working partnership resulting in the greatest single construction program in history.

PWA construction projects, in addition to providing employment for the skilled, generated a volume of jobs for the unskilled. The PWA provided loans and grants up to forty percent of the total cost of the project to states, and many other public bodies, including schools.

From 1933-1935, the PWA underwrote projects in 3,040 of the 3,073 counties in all forty-eight states. Of the 3.76 billion dollars of the NIRA fund, 2.56 billion dollars was spent on 19,004 construction projects.

Narrative adapted in part from the NRHP nomination for Tulare Union High School Auditorium and Administration Building dated 16 November 1999.

Many buildings funded by the PWA have been recognized for their historic significance and architectural excellence. Among them are:


Adobe Chapel of the Immaculate Conception in San Diego
Aquatic Park in San Francisco
Beach Chalet Murals in San Francisco
Big Basin Redwood State Park Headquarters Building
Big Creek Bridge in Big Sur
Feather River Scenic Byway Tunnels

Federal Building in Merced
Federal Writers and Artists Projects in San Francisco
Gasquet Ranger Station
Mariposa County High School Auditorium
McClatchy Senior High School in Sacramento
Monterey County Courthouse in Salinas

Mountain View Adobe
Police Headquarters, Jail & Courts in San Diego
Rincon Annex Post Office in San Francisco
Sacramento Junior College
San Francisco State Teachers College
Sitka Main Post Office and Court House in Alaska

Sonora Youth Center
Stanislaus Forest Experiment Station
The Fort in Taft
Theodore Judah School in Sacramento
Tulare Union High School


Carson City Civic Auditorium
Hoover Dam
Southside School in Reno
Tonopah Main Post Office
USO Building in Hawthorne
Yerington Main Post Office

New Mexico

National Park Service Southwest Regional Office in Santa Fe
New Mexico School for the Deaf Building 2 in Santa Fe
New Mexico School for the Deaf Hospital in Santa Fe
New Mexico Supreme Court in Santa Fe


Butte Falls Ranger Station in Butte Falls
Dead Indian Soda Springs Shelter in Rogue River National Forest
Fish Lake Shelter in Rogue River National Forest
Gold Beach Ranger Station
Lake of the Woods Ranger Station in Fremont-Winema National Forest
Lithia Park in Ashland

McKee Bridge Campground in Rogue River National Forest
Wrangle Gap Shelter in Rogue River National Forest

Bryce Canyon Airport
Dalton Wells Civilian Conservation Corps
Minersville City Hall
Rock House in Arches National Park

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