Hibernia Bank

Photo by Mark Ellinger.

History

Hibernia Bank is designated as City Landmark #130 and is a contributor to the Market Street Theater and Loft National Register Historic District. Designed by Albert Pissis in the Beaux Arts style and completed in 1892, Hibernia Bank was one of the few buildings in the central city to survive the 1906 earthquake and fire, although it was partially damaged by fire. As one of the city’s most essential and centralized institutions, it was among the first to be restored and reopened after the disaster. 

With its hybrid modified temple form and variety of Baroque elements, Hibernia Bank is a magnificent expression of the City Beautiful movement in architecture, social, and city planning that shaped San Francisco’s post-1906 reconstruction. As the oldest and one of the most exceptional of San Francisco’s temple form banks, the building also reflects the city’s role as a center of commerce and finance. 

After being vacated by the Hibernia Savings and Loan Company in 1985, the basement served as temporary quarters for the San Francisco Police Department Tenderloin Task Force until the new Tenderloin Station was completed in 2000.

Current Project Background

After years of vacancy, the Hibernia Bank building was purchased in 2008. In September 2012, Heritage’s Issues Committee toured the building and met with the project team to discuss the much-anticipated rehabilitation. The proposed project includes seismic, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and safety upgrades, all of which are respectful of the building’s historic fabric. Proposed additions, such as the new staircase and restrooms, are strategically placed away from critical historic areas. The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) approved the Certificate of Appropriateness in early December, paving the way for the building’s reuse as assembly and/or office space.

Heritage Position

In its letter to the HPC, Heritage applauded the project sponsor for taking extraordinary care to insure that the building’s character-defining features are preserved while allowing for strategic adaptive reuse. Concurring with the HPC’s Architectural Review Committee, Heritage supports the recommendation that disassembled portions of the teller counters be carefully documented and stored on site.  Additionally, Heritage encourages the project sponsor to provide regular public access to the interior of the building.

Heritage Comment Letter, November 2012

“Second Chance for Historic Bank Building,” Wall Street Journal, December 2012