San Francisco Landmarks

San Francisco Landmark #178: San Francisco Womens Building 7 June 2003
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San Francisco Landmark #178
San Francisco Women's Building
AKA Mission Turnverein
AKA Dovre Hall
3543 18th Street Between Valencia and Guerrero
Built 1910

This building, in the Mission Revival style, was designed by Bay Area architect Reinhold Denke for the German-Americans Turnverein Society to provide gymnastic and meeting facilities.

For the next 25 years, Mission Turn Hall as it was known, served all populations in the heterogeneous Mission District. The building provided after-school classes for youngsters, a monthly exhibition followed by a social and dance, weddings, receptions, and parties. The Native Sons and Daughters of the Golden West were tenants in the building for fifty years.

In 1935, the Sons of Norway and the Daughters of Norway purchased the building and renamed it Dovre Hall, after a mountain range in Norway.

In 1978, the building was purchased by the San Francisco Women's Centers Inc. and renamed the Women's Building.

The mural Maestrapeace which covers two of the exterior walls was painted in 1994 by seven women artists and many helpers: Juana Alicia, Miranda Bergman, Edythe Boone, Susan Kelk Cervantes, Meera Desai, Yvonne Littleton and Irene Perez.

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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