Dedication of N.S.G.W. Building
Between Geary and Post Streets
San Francisco, California
Sunday afternoon, September fifteenth, Nineteen hundred twelve
History of the NSGW Building
by Lewis F. Byington, Past Grand President
The new Native Sons’ Building, just completed and situated on the east side of Mason Street, between Geary and Post Streets, is unquestionably the best appointed and arranged fraternal building in California, and for the lodge and social purposes the most centrally located of any in San Francisco. It stands on the same block as the St. Francis Hotel and within a radius of two blocks are Union Square at the heart of the city, the Hotel Bellevue, the Stewart Hotel, the Olympic Club, the Bohemian Club, the Union League Club, and the Elks’ Club, the Columbia, Alcazar and Orpheum Theatres, and most of the leading hotels, clubs, restaurants, and places of amusement in San Francisco.
It is a “Class A,” steel frame structure, eight stories in height, with a beautiful and ornamented façade of granite, terra cotta and brick. Around the two main entrances to the building are placed medallions of distinguished men, who are thus honored and commemorated for their services in connection with the discovery and civilization of California. They are: Cabrillo, discoverer of California; Father Junipero Serra, civilizer and founder of missions; General John A. Sutter, typical pioneer; General John C. Fremont, U.S.A., the Pathfinder; Admiral John Drake Sloat, U.S.N., who raised the American flag at Monterey; James W. Marshall, the discoverer of gold; Peter Burnett, the first American governor of California; General M. G. Vallejo, typical Hispano-Californian; General A. M. Winn, Founder of the Order of the Native Sons of the Golden West.
Set in the front of the building at the height of the second story are six terra cotta panels, the work of Domingo Mora and his son, Joseph J. Mora, artistically designed and depicting important historical events, namely: “The Discovery of California”; “Civilization”; “The Raising of the Bear Flag”; “The Raising of the American Flag”; “The Pioneers”; “The Discovery of Gold.” The sculptured heads of grizzly bears, which mark the line of the third floor, have been designed as emblematic of California, while the sculptured phoenix, placed over the doorways, typifies San Francisco.
The phoenix was a wonderful bird, fabled to exist for 500 years, the only of its kind. It built a funeral pile of spices and aromatic gums, lighted the pile with the fanning of its wings, and was burned upon it, but from its ashes revived in the freshness of youth. It is the emblematic bird of San Francisco, adopted and placed upon its seal in early days after the city had been four times destroyed by fire. During a recent visit to Europe, Mr. James D. Phelan, the president of the Hall association, found in the Vatican at Rome the most ancient sculptured representation of the phoenix and which is attributed to the famous Greek sculptor Praxiteles. Mr. Phelan secured a splendid reproduction in marble of this work of art and presented it to the Hall Association, and it is now in the new building.
The building contains one of the largest and best-appointed assembly halls for dances, concerts and entertainments in California; also fourteen well-lighted, handsomely furnished, and artistically arranged lodge rooms; the offices of the Grand Secretary; Library and Reading Rooms. Over the main assembly hall is the largest steel truss ever built in California, and which supports the floors above. The eighth floor is arranged for club room purposes and is admirably designed for this object. The rooms are spacious, high and well lighted, both from above and from the front and sides. In the front an artistic loggia has been placed from which the city to the west may be viewed, while at the rear a pergola, over which vines will be twined, furnishes an artistic, sheltered, open-air places for the members to sit. The Grand Parlor has taken steps to secure all books, data and records bearing upon the history and development of California and these doubtless will be stored here. In time, an Historical Museum will also be maintained within the building.
In the main hall are twenty circular windows, which it has been decided to use for art glass portraits of twenty Native Sons and Native Daughters who have won distinction in the arts and sciences, literature and drama. The names of the following have so far been selected: Gertrude Atherton, literature; Sybil Sanderson, music; Mary Anderson, drama. Upon the walls of the upper floors will be hung portraits of the distinguished men and women, not natives of California, who have in this State won distinction in literature, science and the arts. The grandeur of the Yosemite and our mountains and lakes may also be depicted upon other windows and these features will add materially to the beauty of our building and will make it unique among the structures of the country. The building will stand as the home of the Order in the State, and as the noblest and most enduring monument to the perpetuity of the organization and for the advancement of its principles of Friendship, Loyalty and Charity.
The architects of the building are Righetti and Headman (E.H. Hildebrand, associate). The superintendant of construction was Mr. P.J. Walker and his foreman Mr. J.S. Fifield.
Since the destruction of the Native Sons’ Building by the fire of April 18, 1906, it has been the desire of the members to see erected in this city, and upon the lot where that building stood, a home for the fraternity, within which the local lodges may meet and where members from all over California may find an hospitable welcome amidst pleasant and comfortable surroundings. That desire has now been realized.
The Hall Association of the Native Sons of the Golden West was incorporated April 5, 1893, for the purpose of securing a site upon which to erect a home for the Order. The first Board of Directors selected was composed of the following members of the fraternity: John H. Grady, Henry Lundstedt, Dr. C.W. Decker, W.W. Shannon, T.E. Keough, George D. Clark, John T. Greany, John A. Steinbach, W.H. Miller, J.R. Kropp, Adolph Eberhart, Lewis F. Byington, T. C. Conmy, John H. Nelson, T.P. Leonard, Joseph B. Keenan, H..J. Seitz, G.H.S. Dryden, W. J. Wynn, W. E. Foley, Daniel Suter, C.H. Hobson, J.P. Donovan, R. Horber, C.H. Mass, J.W. Reinfeld, H.G.W. Dinkelspiel, Sol. Bloom, J.R. Howell, Louis Nonnenmann, H.E. Coffey, Jas. P. Sweeney, L.L. Dennery, L.M. Bannan, W.P. Johnson, and A.E. Holmes.
The Association purchased from the Congregation Ohabai Shalome, for $42,500, the lot located on the east side of Mason Street, sixty-eight feet and nine inches north of Geary Street, and having a frontage of sixty-eight feet and nine inches and a depth of one hundred and thirty-seven feet and six inches. One of the first synagogues erected in this city stood upon the lot.
Competitive plans for a lodge building were invited and those submitted by Mr. A.C. Lutgens were selected and the handsome five-story “Class C” building erected which stood until destroyed in the early morning of April 19, 1906, by the disastrous fire which then swept the city. It was erected at a cost of about $82,000, and contained a large assembly hall, the offices of the Grand Secretary, the Library and Reading Room and seven lodge rooms. The corner stone was laid on Washington’s birthday, 1895, and the building was dedicated February 9, 1896. Shortly after its completion, Irving M. Scott presented to the Hall Association a magnificent painting by William Keith, California’s greatest landscape artist. It depicted one of California’s fruitful valleys and was entitled “The Heritage of the Native Sons.” It was burned with the building.
When the Association concluded to rebuild upon the old site, it was determined to erect a “Class A” building in line with the spirit of progress which animated the citizens of the new San Francisco. The capital stock of the Association was, therefore, increased to $400,000 (50,000 shares of a par value of $8.00 each).
The corner stone of the new building was laid February 22, 1911. It is the old corner stone saved from the fire with a new stone covering it. Upon the old stone appears the inscription:
NATIVE SONS OF THE GOLDEN WEST
And upon the stone above is carved:
BUILDING DESTROYED BY FIRE, APRIL 19, 1906
CORNER STONE RELAID FEBRURARY 22, 1911
The cost of the new building is approximately $210,000.00, and the dedication thereof will take place Sunday afternoon, September 15, 1912, at three o’clock. This is the only large fraternal building in San Francisco entirely paid for when completed, and without any bonded indebtedness or encumbrance of any kind upon it. This splendid building is built of California material and by California workmen, and reflects credit upon those who planned it, those who constructed it, and the young men whose means contributed to its erection.
Sunday, September fifteenth, nineteen hundred twelve at 2:00 P.M.
Introductory: Louis Nonnenmann, Chairman, Dedication Committee
Address: Lewis F. Byington, Chairman, Building Committee
Vocal Solo: (a) Aria from La Somnambula (b) “Sunshine Waltz,” Harriet Ware, Stella M. Coughlin
Address: Clarence E. Jarvis, Grand President, N.S.G.W.
Address: Olive Bedford-Matlock, Grand President, N.D.G.W.
Baritone Solo: (a) “Song of Thanksgiving” by Allitsen (b) “Mother of Mine” by Tours, Jack Edward Hillman
Address: James Rolph, Jr., Mayor of San Francisco
Musical Selection, Orchestra
Address: Charles M. Belshaw, Chairman, Ways and Means Committee
Address: James D. Phelan, President, Hall Association
Contractors of the Native Sons’ Building
Mason Street between Geary and Post Streets
Righetti & Headman, E.H. Hildebrand, Associate ARCHITECTS, Phelan Building, Douglas 884
H.L. Peterson, CONCRETE, 407 Pine Street, Douglas 1113
Percy J. Walker, SUPERINTENDENT OF CONSTRUCTION, Monadnock Building, Kearny 1096
Lettich Brothers, PLUMBING AND GAS, 365 Fell Street, Park 234
Pacific Rolling Mill, STEEL FOR BUILDING, Seventeenth and Mississippi, Market 215
Standard Electric Co., ELECTRICAL WORK, 60 Natoma Street, Kearny 894
Clinton Fireproofing Company, CONCRETE WORK, Mutual Bank Building, Sutter 2269
Butcher & Hadley, BRICK WORK
Floodberg & McCaffery, PLASTERING, Monadnock Building, Douglas 2478
Gladding, McBean Company, TERRA COTTA WORK, Crocker Building, Douglas 540
Val Frenz, CONTRACTOR AND BUILDER, Builders’ Exchange, 180 Jessie St., Kearny 4700
John C. Sutton Company, HEATING AND VENTILATING, 243 Minna Street, Douglas 3048
C.J. Hillard Company, Inc., ORNAMENTAL IRON WORKS, 215 Eighth Street, Market 6468
Van Emon Elevator Company, ELEVATOR CONSTRUCTORS, 54 Natoma Street, Douglas 857
P.N. Kuss & Company, PAINTERS AND DECORATORS, 612 Fourteenth Street, Oakland, Cal.
Shermund & Krauss, GAS AND ELECTRIC FIXTURES, 1473 Mission Street, Market 1482
Jos. Musto Sons-Keenan Company, MARBLE AND TILE, 35 North Point Street, Franklin 6365
A.W. Pike Company, HARDWARE, 711 Mission Street, Kearny 4226
California Plate & Window Glass Co., GLASS FOR BUILDING, 846 Mission Street, Kearny 641
Eilers Music Company, PIANOS, 975 Market Street, Douglass 1400
Conlin & Roberts, ARCHITECTURAL SHEET METAL WORK, 410-416 Natoma Street, Kearny 1697
Nieblas & Ledgewick, SCENIC ARTISTS, Columbia Theatre, Geary Street
McGilvray-Raymond Granite Co., GRANITE WORK, Seventh and Townsend Streets, Market 246
Reigle & Jamison, DAMPROOFING AND WHITEWASHING, 251 Kearny Street, Douglas 2430
H.D. Samuels, ROOFING
Henry Gervais, TERRAZZO WORK, 1727 Mission Street, Market 6128
Jos. Fredericks & Company, FURNITURE AND CARPETS, N. E. Cor. Post and Stockton Sts., Sutter 2100
Mangrum & Otter, TILE WORK, 561 Mission Street, Kearny 3155
Hall Association Committees
Louis Nonnenmann, Chairman
Chas. W. Heyer, Secretary
Lewis F. Byington, Chairman
Wm. E. Foley, Secretary
Chas. M. Belshaw
Thos. C. Conmy
Ways and Means Committee
Chas. M. Belshaw, Chairman
Jos. B. Keenan, Secretary
Jos. B. Keenan, Chairman
Wm. J. Wynn
Geo. B. Barber
Henry G.W. Dinkelspiel
Chas. D. Steiger, Chairman
Angelo J. Rossi
Transcribed by Brianne Newell.
Source: “Program: Dedication of NSGW Building 1912”. Published by NSGW, San Francisco, Cal.
© 2010 Brianne Newell.