San Francisco Landmarks

San Francisco Landmark #153: Earle C. Anthony Packard Showroom 5 February 2012
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San Francisco Landmark #153
Earle C. Anthony Packard Showroom
901 Van Ness Avenue At Ellis
Built 1927

In the Roaring Twenties when automobiles were at the height of their glamour, how could Earle Anthony settle on anyone other than Bernard Maybeck to design his new Packard showroom on Van Ness Avenue, then and now San Francisco's Auto Row?

Opening night was attended by Hollywood starlets and was broadcast on one of Anthony's radio stations. According to Berkeley author Sally Woodbridge, Anthony distributed a booklet, A Saga of Transportation, in which he described Maybeck's achievement:

Maybeck has vitalized with his own dynamic personality the exotic influences which drift in through the Golden Gate from the Seven Seas....Discarding the shackles of architectural convention [he used] rose marble from Numidia and black from Belgium, travertine in tawny foam and glittering scaggiola--lanterns from a Persian Hareem--Spanish doorways and Gothic doorways--columns crowned with Corinthian acanthus supporting Byzantine corbels [to create] an Aladdin's palace in which the gorgeous panoply of the Arabian Nights vies with the luxury of the Middle Ages.

The booklet also quoted Maybeck's instructions to the construction workers and artisans:

Imagine that no cars roar by on Van Ness Avenue and that no telephone will call you from your work. Believe yourselves, instead, working in the gloom of a cathedral of the Middle Ages, your overseer a monk or an artisan who loves, as you do, the work in hand.
Maybeck and Anthony were a dynamic duo when it came to prose.
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