San Francisco Landmarks

San Francisco Landmark #221: Shriners' Hospital 30 January 2012
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San Francisco Landmark #221
Shriners' Hospital
1601 19th Avenue Between Lawton and Moraga
Built 1922-1923

Built in 1922-1923 as a hospital for children, the Shriners Hospital is significant:

  • as one of the very few hospital buildings remaining in San Francisco from before World War II
  • as a rare example of a private charity hospital built by a civic-minded fraternal organization
  • as a fine example of Italian Renaissance style architecture designed by an important architectural firm
  • as a major institutional building in a landscaped setting prominently visible from a San Francisco boulevard

Designed by Weeks & Day, the Shriners' Hospital building is primarily Italian Renaissance in style, with strong elements of baroque design and a general Mediterranean feeling. The symmetrical design, the arched windows with spiral columns, the modillions beneath the eaves, the della Robbia-styleornament over the main entrance, the window arcade in the north connecting wing, and the volute keystones in the north facade are the principal Italian Renaissance elements. The hipped roof of clay tiles and the Churrigueresque towers give the building a more generalized Mediterranean feeling, and the 20th Avenue entrance and window composition is Spanish Baroque.

The Ancient Arabic Order, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, better known as the Shriners, formed as a side order of the Masonic fraternal organization in New York City in 1872. It was inspired by one Mason's visit to Marseille, France, and his attendance there at a dinner given by an Arabian diplomat. Arabic costume and ritual became the basis for the new Shriners organization. The Shriners first met in San Francisco in c1900 and their group ultimately became known as the Islam Temple.

Adapted from Planning Commission Resolution No. 14523 dated 8 January 1998.

The building is now part of the Vintage Golden Gate residential complex, managed by Vintage Senior Living.

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