Ishi died 100 years ago, March 25, 1916–anthropology’s man of two worlds, the last stone age man, the last wild man, museum specimen, and closest friend. Raised on the Ishi story, we commemorate this sad centennial with reflections on his friendships cut-short, his camping experience, his influence on modern archery, and beyond to his architectural influence and its own untimely end.
601 Broderick Street at Grove in the heart of NoPa went on the market on October 10th for $5,875,000, 2 1/2 years after the foreclosed black church and fixer-upper was snatched up for 40% above asking at $1,401,000. The open house offered valet service and sushi. Curbed sf’s Tracy Elsen calls it “our absolute favorite flip of the year.”
Pictured here is not a new anti-graffiti effort by San Francisco’s Public Works Department. As if the neighborhood hasn’t become white enough, Absolut Vodka has come to town with its artistic promotion of inebriation “Open Canvas” whitewashing San Francisco’s Divisadero Corridor between Hayes and Grove to create a blank canvas for the work of selected artists while providing the Vodka an advertisement in the form of a news event.
Last summer’s trip to Berlin, City of Graffiti, has us thinking about the lively yet criminal place of graffiti in the community. The Berkeley Arts Museum visits the subject in Barry McGee’s exhibit of constructions, sketches and graffiti art closing December 9th, 2012. The museum building itself is not to be missed, as it too is subject to closure as an art museum in 2015 as a result of ever-stiffening seismic requirements anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Big One. Meanwhile, the building’s impending loss as a dramatic and now-unrepeatable gallery space is a tragic and crushing blow.
“The last days are here.” 80-something, Ray takes his morning constitutional down to the corner store, at Broderick and Fulton around 8 am, hangs out to catch his breath, smoke a cigarette, socialize and sometimes prophesize. We talk about the recent foreclosure and sale of the Gethsemane Missionary Baptist a block away. “I’d been sayin’ it all along, it’s the last days, I do believe that. The last days are here!”
The Gethsemane Missionary Baptist at Grove and Broderick is the latest of Western Addition’s church closures. Neighbor Bill reports the church had been failing for a while and was not shocked to hear the loan had been foreclosed and the property sold. The realtor for sale reports the interior was in shambles.
I bump into Dharma, drinking lattes, a block east at Mojo. He recalls, “I think maybe it was 2004. I ‘member walkin’ by and those walls were like pumpin’.” Here he makes a squeeze-box oompah gesture. “Yeah, it was this cool, loud gospel music. We stuck our heads in, but it didn’t exactly feel right. So ….”
The First Apostolic Faith Church displays a Pentecostal purity of form in stark contrast to the ornament laden Victorians that populate the neighborhood. Cleansed of its Victorian ornament to a powerful austerity and a puritanical severity, the First Apostolic Faith Church at Pierce and Bush, top, provides an affordable and architectural alternative to the prevailing upper middle class styling common in Lower Pacific Heights in Western Addition’s upper end. It represents one of many small and endangered churches still active as its supporting congregation is pushed out of the neighborhood to make way for a less evangelical population.
On Thursday evenings and Sundays mornings, the largely white neighborhoods of the Western Addition are transfigured by voices singing the gospel and shouting Amen from within the local African Americans churches of what were predominantly black neighborhoods. Once occupying the entire Western Addition as “the Harlem of the West“, the now scattered black community reassembles in the church choirs and congregations with former neighbors driving in from more affordable neighborhoods across the city, and across the bay for worship and community.
Along with San Francisco’s Bank of America Building and Ghiradelli Square, the Clark Beach House in elevation above and immortalized on PG&E’s heliodon machine left, counts among the most published and recognized of the work from the office of the architect William Wilson Wurster, one time west coast darling, and educational innovator as Dean at MIT and UC Berkeley’s re-envisioned Environmental Design Department. Known for his serious understatement and disdain for luxury and over-designing, his work remains largely disregarded today seemingly as a result. With the One Percent currently under attack, the possibility for a resurgence of modesty in home design seems better than any time since the Reign of Terror.
Preservation today offers provocative questions about the value of creating monuments to wealth, power and fashion. Instead alternatives present time as a continuum and not simply a period, and consider history as something that is not owned but shared by all.
At Drayton Hall Plantation outside Charleston centuries of paint and furnishings are stripped away. The empty rooms become more memorial than museum. Without the distractions of furnishings and personal memorabilia, the mind wanders through history to a time when fields of slaves and tobacco supported a family home. The home becomes haunted by one’s own reflections on time’s passage and the ghosts of southern history.
Light on two sides is the rule for a well lit, warm and glare-free room. The Fort Ross Chapel of 1850 takes a different approach with a different effect. Lit from one side, the hot spots, glare and gloominess are highly emotive with a dark presence hanging over the pulpit.
The tight grain and rich darkness of the the old growth lumber panelling is unavailable today. The diameter of the ceiling drum would be similar to that of the tree fell to supply the fort’s lumber.