San Francisco Landmarks

San Francisco Landmark 161: Alvinza Hayward Building
15 June 2008
(Click Photo to Zoom)
San Francisco Landmark #161
Alvinza Hayward Building
AKA Kohl Building
400 Montgomery Street At California
Built 1901

The Kohl Building was designed by Percy & Polk (George Percy and Willis Polk) for Alvinza Hayward.

Hayward made his fortune from the Eureka Gold Mine in California and the Comstock Silver Mine in Nevada as well as investments in timber, coal, railroads, real estate, and banking. He was a director of the Bank of California and one of the original investors in the San Francisco City Gas Company which become the Pacific Gas and Electric Company

The Kohl Building was one of the first steel-frame "fireproof" buildings in San Francisco. It survived the 1906 Earthquake and Fire with damage to only the first floors which were reconstructed under Polk's supervision.

The lower stories have been redesigned several times, but the upper stories with their brick curtain walls clad in Colusa limestone remain unchanged.

The footprint of the building is shaped like the letter H, perhaps a giant mongram for Hayward.

As noted in Splendid Survivors: San Francisco's Downtown Architectural Heritge (Michael R. Corbett, 1979):

It was an early and excellent example...of the more formal designs that later came to charcterize the city, relying on a relatively restrained and "correct" use of Renaissance/Baroque ornamentation and the two or three part compositional formula....Ornamentation in this three part composition is concemtrated in the upper tier with its mannerist giant order and carved garlands and animal heads.
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