Heritage's mission is to preserve and enhance San Francisco's unique architectural and cultural identity.

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Update: San Francisco Heritage Tours and Programs Impacted by COVID-19


We hope you are healthy and successfully creating a new reality as we all navigate this strange, challenging time together. Heritage’s mission is certainly disrupted but we are forging ahead and adapting to the shelter-in-place era. Our nimble and resourceful staff are innovating new ways to foster community amid social distancing, while continuing to pursue an aspirational agenda for as we approach Heritage’s 50th anniversary in 2021.

In March, Heritage in the Neighborhoods kicked off in the Excelsior District. For the entire month, our social media pages spotlighted the buildings and businesses that define the neighborhood’s diverse, unheralded architectural and cultural identity. Although we were forced to postpone our Excelsior Heritage Night, Heritage quickly adapted by creating even more robust online content in the form of daily posts, with virtual town halls and live-streamed conversations being planned for the weeks ahead. Next up: Parkside and the Marina!

Fundamentally, Heritage’s mission is defined by, and dependent on, our community. We look forward to resuming our community-based programs, tours, and events as soon as possible. We will be regularly updating the Haas-Lilienthal House Tours page and the Events Calendar on our website. Please check back for current information.

If you have questions regarding the status of Heritage’s tours and programs as circumstances continue to develop, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@sfheritage.org.

Thank you for being part of Heritage’s community.

Mike Buhler
President & CEO

Fun Friday: Richmond District Architecture Spotlight with Joey Yee


A still from Joey Yee’s video on Richmond District houses.

Taking inspiration (we think) from the web-slinging Spiderman, Joey Yee is just your “friendly neighborhood SF native,” and loves the Richmond District. His now popular videos “cut through the fog” to cover not only Richmond District history and culture, but also his favorite San Francisco things – big trees, bridges, city landmark show-downs, you name it.  More recently, he made a video in support of city businesses suffering from the impact of COVID-19.

For our “fun friday,” we wanted to spotlight one of Yee’s videos, made a few months back in February (which now seems an age away). While “San Francisco is known everywhere for its architecture (yes!),” in this fun video he explores the many different building styles that you can find in the city’s Richmond District specifically. Yee perfectly encapsulates the diversity of the district’s architecture, and how it feels “less like a nuclear family” and more like “an extended one.” And for all these different styles, the Richmond’s unique amalgamation of buildings are ultimately “just as vibrant and diverse as the people living inside them.”

As a bonus, Yee also makes great use of OpenSFHistory’s fantastic historic photo archive to help tell the district’s history. Take a look at his video below (including a 90’s glam-rock montage), and find out more about this special pocket of the city:

San Francisco Art Institute Announces Planned Closure


San Francisco Art Institute courtyard and tower (SFAI image).

On March 23, 2020, the president and board chair of the 149-year-old San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) released a message announcing a planned suspension of courses and degree programs after the school’s May 2020 graduations.

The possible loss of a prestigious institution steeped in San Francisco history since its 1871 origins on Nob Hill is alarming enough, but the now-uncertain future of the stunning and important SFAI campus at 800 Chestnut Street is a great preservation concern.

The firm of Bakewell and Brown, architects for San Francisco City Hall, Temple Emanu-El, Telegraph Hill’s Coit Tower, and other landmarks across the city, designed the campus for what was then named the California School of Fine Arts. Completed in 1926 on the northern slope of Russian Hill in Mediterranean Revival style, the complex is homage to an Italian or Iberian hill town with red clay tile roofs, a courtyard with fountain, and a prominent tower that has become an icon of the neighborhood.

View from SFAI 1969 courtyard to the 1926 complex with tower. (Photograph by Jeremy Blakeslee).

Traditional elements, like its tower and arcaded courtyard, were created with a modern material, board-formed concrete, and the 1969 addition by Pafford Keating Clay continued with concrete in a contemporary style of architectural abstraction. While Bakewell & Brown’s design faced inward, the 1969 half, with its broad elevated plaza, turns out to embrace North Beach and the bay beyond. The two halves are strikingly different, but they hold together as an integrated whole.

Beyond architecture, the SFAI campus is significant for its Diego Rivera mural, The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City (1931), a masterpiece that has been considered being sold by the institute’s trustees to save the school, although SFAI’s city landmark designation explicitly lists the mural as a key element to the site’s significance.

View to The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City, in SFAI’s Diego Rivera gallery. (Photograph by Jeremy Blakeslee).

The SFAI campus is no less important for its affiliation with renowned student artists and teachers: photographers Ansel Adams, Minor White, and Annie Leibovitz; members of seminal punk rock bands of the late 1970s; Academy Award winners such as cinematographer Peter Pau and film director Kathryn Bigelow; and many other important sculptors, painters, writers, and conceptual artists.

The campus is City Landmark #85 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its architectural and cultural importance to Russian Hill and North Beach, and the City of San Francisco overall, cannot be overstated.

Heritage is committed to working with any and all parties to safeguard and protect the landmark SFAI landscape, is in contact with relevant parties, and is monitoring the situation closely.

Interior view of San Francisco Art Institute campus at 800 Chestnut Street. (Photograph by Jeremy Blakeslee).

An Update on Soirée 2020


Interior of Bimbo’s 365 Club, by Christopher Michel

For the first time in our 49-year history, San Francisco Heritage has made the difficult decision to cancel Soirée due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are profoundly grateful to our Soirée underwriters, listed below, who have stepped up to convert their sponsorships into donations. Special thanks to our event vendors, especially Bimbo’s 365 Club and McCalls, for their collaboration and understanding amid unpredictable circumstances. We are truly heartened by the overwhelming generosity exhibited by Heritage’s community of supporters.

The Board and staff of San Francisco Heritage look forward to better times together, especially Soiree 2021, which will celebrate Heritage’s 50th anniversary year.









Equity Community Builders | Linda Jo Fitz | Nancy and Tom Gille | Zane Gresham and Carole Roberts | Peggy Haas | J.P. Harbour | Harsch Investment Properties | Holmes Structures | Knapp Architects | Langan Engineering | Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternak | Marchetti Group | Martin Building Company | Millennium Partners – 706 Mission | Page and Turnbull | Parkmerced/Maximus LLC | Patrick J. Ruane, Inc. | Plant Construction | Port of San Francisco | Prado Group | REAL Systems | Reuben, Junius & Rose, LLP | Alice and Bill Russell-Shapiro | SOM | TEF Design | Western Specialty Contractors | Jacqueline Young


Bimbos 365 Club | McCalls Catering & Events

Lisa Duffell, ALOE Events |Ron Borelli, Accordion | Dick Bright Orchestra, Inn-Entertainment | Lenny Broburg, Auctioneer | Stacy Cahill, Wavelength Photography | Jeremy Fish | David Gerard, Magician | Le Bonta’ Italiane, Mr.Bomboloni | Andy Hiroshi Kawanami | Brian Orlov Photography | PopUp Gelato | Zach Trenholm Caricatures


Absinthe Brasserie & Bar | Cable Car Clothiers | Cavallo Point | City Club of San Francisco | Foreign Cinema | Great American Music Hall | HardWater | John’s Grill | Kabuki Springs & Spa | Old Clam House | Original Joe’s | Pier 23 Cafe | Scoma’s Restaurant | Slim’s | Tallman Hotel