Visitacion Valley October Roundup: All Posts

October 29th, 2021 No Comments »

Thank you for following along during our Visitacion Valley Month (#VisValleyHeritage), part of our Heritage in the Neighborhoods program. While we are looking forward to celebrating at Visitacion Valley Heritage Night soon (stay tuned for the date!), we’d like to share all that we’ve written during October 2021 so you may easily find what you missed.

From architectural resources and legacy businesses, to cultural communities and public art, we’ve spotlighted many of the things that make Visitacion Valley a hidden gem in San Francisco. We hope you learn something new and get excited to go out and explore the neighborhood in your own time.

Clockwise from upper-left: Visitacion Valley History Project member Betty Parshall poses with “the rock”; View to Schlage Locks administration building from Teddy and San Bruno Avenues in 1941 ( OpenSFHistory / wnp5.50043); home in Little Hollywood; Sunnydale kids on Beniamino Bufano’s “Bear and Head” sculpture. (Barbara Bernstein photograph © Creative Commons BY-NC-ND.);

Visitacion Valley History 
  • Home to two Yelamu settlements before the Spanish “discovered” and named what is today Visitacion Valley, the area was home to early settlers’ cattle farms and nurseries before giving way to a mix of housing and commerce. Read Woody LaBounty’s short overview of “The Valley of the Windmills.”
  • Until the early 20th century, Visitacion Valley was a neighborhood mostly of farms and acres rather than houses and streets. Starting in the 1920s, the Valley became synonymous with one thing: the giant Schlage Lock factory standing just north of SP’s hydra of railroad tracks.
  • Like the best secrets, Visitacion Valley sub-neighborhood Little Hollywood gives the discoverer a sense of surprise, delight, and the hint of further mysteries to unravel.
  • Conceived at the end of the Great Depression, constructed during World War II, the 80-year old Sunnydale housing project was a great experiment, an answer to the affordable housing problem with which we still struggle in San Francisco.

Clockwise from upper-left: 198 Leland Street, part of one of the oldest grouping of buildings on Leland Avenue; Casa Bahia Loma in Little Hollywood, rumored haunt of Hollywood star Mae West; the brick homes, designed by Joseph Eichler; and A. Silvestri Co, a legacy business candidate operating in the former home of Sam’s Lodge and George’s Log Cabin.

Architectural Resources and Local Landmarks 
  • It’s certainly not every neighborhood that can boast of having a palace, a castle, and a log cabin within its borders, but SF’s Visitacion Valley can – and does! Visitacion Valley History Project’s Cynthia Cox tells us more.
  • The former Bay Shore Hotel, a colorful Art Deco block, and a midcentury market are among Woody LaBounty’s favorite commercial buildings along Leland Avenue.
  • There are no designated landmarks in Visitacion Valley. Sadly, this is not surprising. Humbler structures in outlying neighborhoods have a tougher path to recognition, their significance more likely connected to working class people and marginalized cultural communities. Bu there are multiple obvious landmark candidates in the Valley, including a Julia Morgan-designed church, Joseph Eichler-designed town houses, and a 1913 firehouse.
  • Read a short history (and watch the implosion) of Geneva Towers, the Joseph Eichler designed structures that dominated the Visitacion Valley skyline for three decades.
  • Starting in the mid-19th century, Visitacion Valley established three “mile houses,” places to get water for horses and a strong drink on the way to and from the city. Two of the original buildings are still intact, and one is still serving food and drink.
  • The log cabin at 2629 Bayshore Boulevard that straddles the line between San Francisco and San Mateo counties has been the site of several popular bars and restaurants over the years, including Sam’s Lodge and George’s Log Cabin.

Clockwise from upper-left: The Visitacion Valley Pharmacy at 100 Leland Avenue, Teddy’s Market at 296-298 Teddy Avenue, Forty-Niner Cleaners at 51 Leland Avenue.

Visitacion Valley Legacy Businesses 
  • Just as Visitacion Valley currently has no landmarks, it also does not have any businesses on San Francisco’s Legacy Business Registry. We spotlighted a few longtime businesses in the neighborhood that are each worthy candidates, two of which have histories dating back over 100 years.

Visitacion Valley resident Neo Veavea shares some neighborhood secrets in this short video interview.

Video/Written Interviews with Visitacion Valley Residents
  • Visitacion Valley History Project co-founder Edie Epps tells us why Leland Avenue is one of the Valley’s best kept secrets.
  • When he first came to Visitacion Valley as a child, Neo Veavea first settled with his mother in Sunnydale housing projects. Five decades later, he resides in the Joseph Eicher-designed brick homes and is an active community member.
  • In our new “Community Voices” column, Visitacion Valley resident and Visitacion Valley History Project member Russel Morine shares a common misconception about the neighborhood.
  • In addition to sharing her favorite places, resident Selina Low also shared a wonderful written memory of her parent’s store, Sunlight Grocery, formerly located on Visitacion Avenue.
  • Watch our informal brown bag lunch conversation with the Visitacion Valley History Project, who shared some of the fun Valley ephemera they’ve collected over the years.

David Gallagher helped partially solve the mystery of 2 Hahn Street, which was moved to Visitacion Valley in the 1940s.

…a History Mystery Partially Solved
  • The Visitacion Valley History Project have wondered about a mysterious building at 2 Hahn Street, as well as a secret room at 150 Delta Street. We were on the case, and solved a few mysteries along the way.


We’ve mapped Visitacion Valley’s standout public art. Click to browse!

Fun Stuff!

We’d like to hear your favorite places, stories, and ideas for what preservation projects you’d like Heritage to focus on in Visitacion Valley. Reply to this email or email me, Kerri, at kyoung@sfheritage.org.

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