San Francisco Landmarks

San Francisco Landmark #26: Bank of Lucas, Turner and Company Montgomery Street Façade
25 August 2007
(Click Photo to Zoom)
San Francisco Landmark #26
Bank of Lucas, Turner and Company
800-804 Montgomery Street at Jackson
Built 1854

The Bank of Lucas, Turner and Company was designed by Reuben Clark in the Italianate style typical of early San Francisco. The classical façade faces Montgomery Street, the main business street at the time. The ground floor is built from well cut and fitted granite blocks. The granite is not from California, and is variously said to be from the eastern United States or from China. Originally three stories high, the building cost $53,000, a large sum for the day.

Construction by Keyser and Brown in 1853-1854 was supervised by William Tecumseh Sherman, later to become General of the Union Armies during the Civil War.

The Bank of Lucas, Turner and Company moved into their impressive new building during the summer of 1854, but the enterprise was bankrupt by 1857.

Over the years, tenants came and went as this section of Montgomery Street yielded cachet to Montgomery Street addresses between California and Market Streets. In 1906, Eiffel Tower, a French restaurant occupied the ground floor with lodging above.

The 1906 Earthquake and Fire damaged the third story which was removed. The restaurant remained until 1924, the lodgings even longer.

A sausage factory shared part of the ground floor in the 1920's. In later years, a Chinese soy sauce factory was located here.

In the 1950's, with the revival of Jackson Square, the building was converted for use by decorators.

Adapted from the San Francisco City Planning Commission Resolution No. 6388 dated June 26, 1969

Most of Montgomery Street was built on landfill in Yerba Buena Cove. Sherman called Montgomery Street "the worst bog and succession of mudholes masquerading as a street in the United States," according to Larry D. Hatfield writing in the San Francisco Examiner dated 18 February 1999.

The Bank of Lucas, Turner and Company is California Landmark 453.

San Francisco Street Trees

Consider Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey). Lovely building.

Consider the Taj Mahal, the Doge's Palace, the Parthenon, the Lincoln Memorial, the Sagrada Familia, the Winter Palace of the Tsar, the Hagia Sophia, San Francisco's own City Hall and Opera House and Legion of Honor.

Lovely buildings, all. Essential to their appeal is that they stand unobstructed to be admired from any angle and at any distance.

Over the past twenty years or so, many of San Francisco's most distinctive buildings have gone into hiding behind ill-considered street trees. Except for the Spreckels Mansion Spite Hedge which clearly flips the bird to San Francisco, most of these trees were planted in good faith to beautify the streetscape, filter the air, increase property values; but like the cute SPCA puppy who grows up to be a two hundred pound mastiff, many of our street trees would be more at home in the country than the city.

Here is a short list of some striking San Francisco buildings which I wish were more clearly visible. I'm sure the Hop-On Hop-Off tourists would enjoy them too. They can see an ineptly pruned ficus or an ailing plane tree anywhere.

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