San Francisco Landmarks

San Francisco Landmark #242: Infant Shelter 31 January 2012
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San Francisco Landmark #242
Infant Shelter
1201 Ortega Street
Built 1928

The following is excerpted from the website of the Western Neighborhoods Project:

The Infant Shelter is significant as one of two surviving orphanage buildings in San Francisco, and as one of the last major buildings designed by architect Louis Christian Mullgardt.

The Infant Shelter was planned in 1927 and constructed in 1928-1929 for use as an orphanage. The Infant Shelter traces its historical roots back to the 1870s and was part of a tradition in San Francisco that had its beginnings in the Gold Rush.

The building operated as an orphanage until the mid-1950s when it was sold to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

The Conservatory remained in the building for half a century until 2006 when it moved into newly constructed quarters near the Opera House and Symphony Hall.

Today the building is home to Lycée Français La Pérouse.

The following is excerpted from the September/October 2001 Edition of Heritage News:

The Infant Shelter was the last building designed by Louis Christian Mullgardt. The building illustrates Mullgardt's interest in polychromy, texture, contrasting materials and the applied arts, particularly sculpture and metalworking.

Each elevation that faces a public street has at least one signature element. On the Ortega Street façade, the entry pavilion is the main visual focal point. The ornamental brick, terra cotta columns and sculptural frieze were probably the work of Mullgardt himself, an accomplished sculptor. The bold sculpted gables of the corner pavilions betray the influence of the Mission Revival style.

In 1935 Mullgardt was found wandering the streets of San Francisco with a carpetbag containing unfinished plays being dictated to him by William Shakespeare. In 1941 he was found again, this time incapacitated, in a dreary residential hotel. He was taken to a pauper's ward at the State Hospital in Stockton, where he died the following year.

Mullgardt also designed the Juvenile Court and Detention Home, San Francisco Landmark 248.

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