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

Learn more about Heritage

Parkside July Roundup: All Posts + Town Hall Meeting Announcement

Jul31st

Kerri and Woody introduce the history of the Parkside District in this webinar.

And just like that, our month spotlighting the people, history, and places of the Parkside District for Heritage in the Neighborhoods has come to a close. However, our conversation will continue with YOU!

To follow-up on our #HeritageParkside month, we will host a virtual town hall on August 27th, 6:00 PM PST to discuss potential preservation projects in the district. You don’t have to be a preservation expert to join the conversation, just a neighbor or someone who loves the district and wants to help protect its special places.

For some first project ideas, take a look at our full list of Parkside posts produced throughout the month of July below.

If you’d like to join us, send me an email and I’ll send you the Zoom login details: kyoung@sfheritage.org

We look forward to seeing you there!

Kerri Young
Communications and Programs Manager

Clockwise from upper-left: The Parkside’s original cottages then-and-now, Parkside Branch Library at 1200 Taraval Street, February 2020, Pinehurst Lodge, the former Junior League Home at 2685 30th Avenue, and Lincoln High School at 2162 24th  Avenue.
Architectural Resources and Local Landmarks 
  • Video: Woody LaBounty tells the story of the Parkside District’s first houses—62 small cottages—many of which are still standing in 2020.
  • “Smart entrepreneurs make their cocktail lounges so attractive that you can’t help but stay on for another drink. Why not libraries?” The Modern-style Parkside Branch Library fits the bill.
  • Video: The west side of San Francisco isn’t all stucco. Woody looks at how early houses in the Parkside were inspired by the Arts & Crafts movement.
  • The Parkside has no designated city landmarks, but there are certainly buildings that qualify for such recognition and protection. We visit a site that even longtime Parkside residents may be unaware exists, Pinehurst Lodge.
  • Video: Bordering a true park, Pinelake Park is a residential development of the Parkside Realty Company between Crestlake Drive and Sloat Boulevard. Woody speaks about the area’s not-to-be Veteran’s Hospital, its revival-style and Midcentury-modern style homes, and its neighboring natural lake.
  • The Trocadero Inn is the oldest building the Parkside District area—perhaps the oldest in the southwest part of San Francisco—and is the sole intact survivor of a string of early roadhouses that once stretched across the western and southern parts of the city.
  • Video: There are some great examples of stucco-clad single-family residences in the Parkside, but not all stucco is the same.
  • While primarily residential in character, the Parkside has some standout civic and religious structures, and one esteemed architect stands out.

**Note**All of our video pieces can be found on this Parkside playlist on our Youtube channel. Please subscribe to make sure you don’t miss any new videos!

Clockwise from upper-left: Great Wall Hardware at 1821 Taraval St., Tennessee Grill at 1128 Taraval St., Gene’s Liquor at  2201 Taraval St., and Guerra Quality Meats at 490 Taraval St.

Parkside Legacy Businesses and Legacy Candidates
  • Despite many great candidates, Great Wall Hardware is the only business on the Legacy Business Registry hailing from the Parkside. Kerri spoke to owner Albert Chow about how his business has navigated the Covid-19 crisis and what he loves about the Parkside.
  • A pioneer grocery store-turned liquor store with a notable history: Erected in 1908 and opened in 1909, Gene’s Liquors holds the distinction of being the Parkside’s first business.
  • Many family-owned Italian businesses along the Parkside’s main commercial artery of Taraval Street, founded decades ago, are still serving customers today. In this post, Kerri spotlight’s Guerra Quality Meats, Gold Mirror Restaurant, and Marcello’s, and includes how you can support them during the pandemic.
  • The Tennessee Grill has been a staple in the Parkside for 67 years, where regulars have flocked to its laid-back diner space for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Owner Kyaw Soe talked to Kerri about the Grill’s special place in the neighborhood and how he’s been navigating the Covid-19 crisis.

1943 letter from the Parkside District Improvement Club to the Real Estate Association in San Francisco, demonstrating how Parkside residents played a role in excluding nonwhite residents in the absence of restrictive covenants. 

Parkside Cultural History
  • Volunteer community groups were significant drivers of San Francisco neighborhood development and vitality in the early twentieth century, and residents in the early days of the Parkside established their own: The Parkside District Improvement Club (PDIC).
  • In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Lincoln High School became a site of Black activism as students confronted the country’s longstanding (and continuing) racial discrimination and inequities.
  • Sherman and Edna Lee were the first Chinese-Americans to buy a home in the southwest corner of San Francisco in 1946, on Taraval near 38th. Read about the growth of Chinese-Americans in the district.

Taraval Street home purchased by the Lee family in 1946, Google Street View.

Richard Lim and son in first Navy jet in Larsen Park, c.1966, Western Neighborhoods Project.

Fun Stuff!
  • Learn about the history of the Navy jets in Larsen Park Playground.
  • With a over 51% of people identifying as being of Asian descent in the Parkside District and with Chinese spoken as the predominant language other than English, the presence of several bubble tea shops in the district continue to support a robust Asian culinary landscape. Kerri does a taste test!
  • One of the most fog-prone parts of the city, from 1905-1910, the sandy Parkside was advertised as being “10 degrees warmer” than Golden Gate Park or the Western Addition!
  • Village life in the Parkside: Into the 1970s, the PDIC hosted outdoor May Day celebrations each year in McCoppin Square, with a neighborhood girl crowned May Queen. Here are some photos from celebrations past.

Breakfast All Day: The Parkside’s Tennessee Grill

Jul29th

By Kerri Young

The Tennessee Grill
1128 Taraval St.
(415) 664-7834
Currently offering a limited menu for take-out.

The Tennessee Grill has been a staple in the Parkside for 67 years, where regulars have flocked to its laid-back diner space for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Known for its comfort food and satisfying portions, you will find a diverse menu ranging from American diner classics like eggs and bacon, to pasta and Burmese Tea Leaf Salad. We recently spoke to owner Kyaw Soe, who has worked at the Grill since 1998, about the restaurant and how the business is adapting during the pandemic. We are happy to note that Mr. Soe was also open to helping the business join the Legacy Business Registry, a distinction for which the Tennessee Grill certainly qualifies. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

A look inside the Tennessee Grill, before the Covid-19 pandemic. The restaurant is temporarily open only for take-out.

How would you describe your business for those that aren’t familiar with it? 

It’s an American diner. It’s an old diner, open since 1953, and it’s never shut down since then. I love this business.

A look at some of the old-school offerings on Tennessee Grill’s menu, June 28th, 2020. Posted on Yelp by Jean L.

The Grill has an eclectic menu with items that people might be surprised about, like Burmese Tea Leaf Salad. Tell us more about the influences for the menu over the years.

I created a Burmese Tea Leaf Salad, and also dishes like Chicken Curry. These items weren’t on the menu with the previous ownership. Right now the pandemic is on, so I’ve had to cut some menu items. But I have kept the Tea Leaf Salad on the menu, and people like it. So we have American diner food, but we also have things like Teriyaki Salmon…I introduced it [to the menu] because I like it! I thought why not try it in my restaurant, because people might like it. I already had a different version of salmon on the menu, so I just created a new sauce and put it over rice, and people like it! So we have items like Tea Leaf Salad and Salmon Teriyaki in addition to traditional American diner food.

How long have you owned the business, and what is your history with Tennessee Grill?

The first time I arrived in the US was in 1998, and this was the first job I worked since I arrived. I became the owner in 2017. Min was the previous owner, and we were partners before she retired. Before Min was Lou (of the “Lou’s Special” that is currently on the menu). I liked it [becoming the owner], because I knew the customers, I knew the employees, and the menu. I had waited on tables, cooked, so most of the job I have now [as the owner] I had already done before.

The Tennessee Grill in the 1954 San Francisco city directory. Today, it is still at its original address at 1128 Taraval St.

The Tennessee Grill has been in business since the 1953. How does it feel to run something that has served the Parkside community for so long?

It’s honorable to be that business here [in the Parkside]. It’s kind of like a landmark of this district, so I’m really proud that I took it over and am running the business. Most of our regular customers have been coming since I came here!

Tell us more about the Grill’s regular customers.

Many have been coming for several decades. Most of the regular customers, they don’t change what they eat much. They have about 5-6 items they rotate between. New customers will come in and check out new items on the menu, but existing customers know what they want and we know what to make for them. We have kept the same quality of food over the years, is what some of our regulars say…some customers come from San Bruno, some from the Richmond, all over really! But most are from around here [in the Parkside].

How have you navigated the Covid-19 crisis as a small business owner? 

This pandemic? Right now I notice that small businesses are struggling. We’ve never faced this situation before in the history of the Tennessee Grill…so I try my best to keep holding on to the business. The one thing I didn’t want to do is cut the hours of some of my employees, but I had to do it.

And my restaurant is not prepared for take-out, it’s all about the dine-in experience. But now, after 3-4 months, we started to realize how to make take out work. I believe other dine-in restaurants are struggling with this too. We haven’t cut menu items, just limited the menu for take-out. Some items are not good for takeout, like corned beef and cabbage, which is really heavy. I used to make it once a week, but I can’t do that anymore because it’s not good for takeout, it’s not good to eat in the box. But I’ll do it again when this is all over.

How can people support your business at this time? What do you need most from the community right now?

If they can support local businesses as much as they can it would be really nice, but they have to stay safe too. Be healthy and be safe and be smart first, and then they can support local business…The other day I went over to the Cliff House, and on the beach there were a lot of people gathered and many were not wearing masks, and that’s not good…wear a mask, and everyone should listen to the guidelines and follow that advice. That’s my suggestion, it has nothing to do with my business but that’s what I see. So stay safe first and then support my business.

News of developing a vaccine has been hopeful…but we’re not going back to normal right away. We will have to work hard for a few more years to get back to normal. Our business won’t be same after this experience [in the pandemic], but we will work towards making it normal again.

Parkside’s Singular Architect: Martin Rist

Jul28th

by Woody LaBounty

Our Heritage in the Neighborhoods month focusing on San Francisco’s Parkside District is almost over, but before it ends let’s recognize three more buildings deserving of recognition and, perhaps, landmark designation. While primarily residential in character, the Parkside District has some standout civic and religious structures, and one esteemed architect stands out.

St. Cecilia Catholic Church
2555 17th Avenue

St. Cecilia Church, seen from 18th Avenue and Wawona Street, 2016. (MER Ring photograph.)

The Catholic parish of St. Cecilia had its origins in a Taraval Street house in 1917. Soon after, the first pastor was able to secure the outgrown Parkside School building from the city and move the two-room frame building to 15th Avenue and Taraval Street as the core of new church complex. The Parkside Volunteer Fire Department donated its bell for the church tower. With the growth of the Parkside and West Portal neighborhoods St. Cecilia kept adding on to and remodeling its schoolhouse-church, and eventually a new, larger building able to seat more than 700 parishioners was constructed on 17th Avenue between Ulloa and Vicente Streets.

St. Cecilia Church, 2005.

Under the leadership of the charismatic Monsignor Harold Collins, who was an outstanding fundraiser, construction of a grand new St. Cecilia Church began on June 1, 1954. Architect Martin J. Rist’s Spanish Colonial Revival style was in harmony with surrounding homes built in the 1920s and 1930s, many constructed by notable St. Cecilia parishioners and donors Chris McKeon (“Happy Homes”) and Carl Gellert (Standard Building Company). The reinforced concrete structure with cast-stone trim, a red clay tile roof, and a bell tower with a dome of blue-green tile, dominates the landscape at 17th Avenue and Vicente Street. Between choir and nave, more than 1,250 people can attend mass in a significant building for architectural design and its association with the Parkside’s influential Catholic parish.

Lincoln High School
2162 24th Avenue

Lincoln High School, 2015.

Parkside residents lobbied and advocated for a public high school for many years before Lincoln was finally built with Public Works Administration funds and a city bond measure. Even then, the school had to be constructed in stages after opening in 1940 and money for architectural elaborations and artwork was insignificant compared to what was secured through Works Progress Administration (WPA) programs for Washington High School in the Richmond District.

24th Avenue entry to Lincoln High School, 2017. (Christopher VerPlanck photo)

Architect Timothy Pflueger, with assistance from Frederick H. Meyer, Wilbur Peugh, and Martin J. Rist, couldn’t bring in New Deal muralists or sculptors, but that doesn’t mean Lincoln’s academic building isn’t elegant with its Late Moderne design. The three-story reinforced concrete edifice contains 100 classrooms, a library, and shop, and while it has an attractive grand entry on 24th Avenue, a lot of Lincoln’s architectural appeal comes from the graceful rhythm of its fenestration: windows in tight squares and long rows playing off each other. The work of master-architects, associated with the New Deal and numerous important alumni, Lincoln High School is a deserving candidate of historic designation.

Taraval Police Station
2345 24th Avenue

Taraval Police Station, 2019 (Google Street View.)

In 1908, the Parkside Realty Company set aside a large lot in the middle of the block between 24th and 25th Avenues, Santiago and Taraval Streets, as a site for a school. The property faced what is today McCoppin Square, reserved for city parkland when the streets and blocks were first mapped in 1868.

With the Parkside population booming in the mid 1920s, and a new Parkside School recently constructed between 24th and 25th Avenue, Ulloa and Vicente Streets, the city decided the neighborhood instead needed a police station on the site. At the time, the station in Balboa Park and one off Stanyan Street in Golden Gate Park were the closest police presence for the entire southwest quarter of the city.

Martin J. Rist and his partner Alfred I. Colley received the commission of $4,500 to design the “Parkside Station” in 1927. Instead of defaulting to typical station designs, which tended to look like well-guarded barns, Rist and Colley gave the neighborhood a civic temple in brick with an arched recessed entry, matching arches in the cornice work, a dominant center frieze referring to the origins of western civilization, and even a couple of gargoyles. This in the sleepy, foggy Parkside, much of which was still sand dunes.

Renovation of the Taraval Station, mid 1990s. (Richmond Review photograph, OpenSFHistory/wnp07.00065.)

A project to construct an earthquake-resistant station to replace Rist’s creation was included with a $28 million bond issue approved by voters in 1987. The Loma Prieta earthquake two years later underscored the need. Despite grumblings from a grand jury, the city decided to save much of the 1929 building and build a seismic-resistant structure and expansion behind it.

As his work in the Parkside shows, Rist was a versatile architect of public buildings, including the University Mound Old Ladies Home (City Landmark #269) and, with other partners, Sunshine School (City Landmark #286).

In 1932, Rist was described in the Architect and Engineer magazine as “truly a part of that great school of American architects who know their field, who know and do, give their work care and thought leading to superiority.”

Martin J. Rist also designed fine houses, including his own at 136 Yerba Buena Avenue in St. Francis Wood. From a second floor window Rist could see the tower he designed for St. Cecilia Church. But not for long. Six months after its dedication, a Requiem High Mass was held at St. Cecilia Church for Martin J. Rist, who passed away at 68 years old on December 3, 1956.

May Day History in the Parkside

Jul24th

Village life in the Parkside: Into the 1970s, the Parkside District Improvement Club (PDIC) hosted outdoor May Day celebrations each year in McCoppin Square, with a neighborhood girl crowned May Queen. In 1972, 10-year-old Jennifer Wong Achuck made Parkside history as the first non-white Queen. Here are some of our May Day history highlights, from photos and clippings compiled in the PDIC scrapbooks (now held at the San Francisco Public Library):

Marilyn Crane, Parkside May Day Queen of 1944. CA Assemblymember Gerald Haggerty is the tall man at left. The PDIC and Parkside Post 505 of the American Legion produced the event with 200 neighborhood children participating.

 

Crowds at the 1949 May Day festivities at McCoppin Square softball field.

 

Myra Lee Campbell, Parkside May Day Queen of 1950. The event drew mayors, state legislators, drum corps, and hundreds of girls from city dancing schools.

 

May Day celebration in McCoppin Square Park, 1952. Groups of girls from dancing schools participated in the parade and Maypole dance. (Courtesy of Carol Malcom O’Keeffe)

 

In 1963, a former Parkside queen saw her daughter crowned.