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San Francisco in San Francisco City and County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Louis Roesch Building

Occupied this location from 1906 to 2011

 
 
Louis Roesch Building Marker image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, December 18, 2020
1. Louis Roesch Building Marker
Inscription.  
The Building

Although the building was quickly constructed after the 1906 earthquake, the design does not forgo aesthetics. The post-quake urgency to rebuild is reflected in the building's design; its unusual sheet metal siding was inexpensive, quickly applied, and provided some fire protection. However, two different patterns of pressed metal were used, showing consideration for appearance. It reflects both the building's industrial nature and its role as a facility for small-scale commerce and social activities. That the building is architect-designed and shows attention to such details is testament to the fact that it was constructed efficiently, but not without care.

It also represents forethought and consideration for the needs of the surrounding neighborhood. The priority was to build a new printing facility, but the intended mixed use of the building is obviously reflected in its original floor plan and interior organization, with the additional commercial and assembly spaces.

Louis Roesch

Born in Stuttgart, Germany, Louis Roesch immigrated to the United States in 1872. In addition to being

Louis Roesch Building Marker - wide view, looking south on Mission image. Click for full size.
By Andrew Ruppenstein, December 18, 2020
2. Louis Roesch Building Marker - wide view, looking south on Mission
a Mason and member of the Olympic Club, Native Sons of the Golden West, and San Francisco Advertising Club, he was a member of the German Benevolent Society.

The Louis Roesch Company was one of more than fifty major printing and lithography businesses in San Francisco around 1906, which together employed over 5000 individuals. It specialized in printing labels for the crated, canned, and bottled foods and wine, produced by California's booming agricultural industry.

The printing industry at the time was characterized by a large number. of German-American proprietors, and like the Louis Roesch Company, most printing businesses were located north of Market Street before 1906, then relocated to the more industrial areas of the South of Market and Mission' districts after the earthquake. The Roesch Company was unique however, in that its post-quake quarters included spaces for other tenants, including meeting rooms and retail shops that would not normally have been found in the same building with the loud vibrating equipment common to a printing plant. The building and company were last owned by Michael Davos from 1986 to 2010.

Working Class Gathering Place

Known alternately as the Roesch Building, Roesch Hall, or Germania Hall, the building was used by the community for lodge meetings, lectures, or church meetings on Sundays. In addition, many organizations

Marker inset: Louis Roesch Building image. Click for full size.
3. Marker inset: Louis Roesch Building
Quickly constructed after the 1906 earthquake, the building allowed the Louis Roesch Company to return to business and provided a mixed use space for social activities, showing an understanding of the needs of the multicultural Mission District community.
rented office space.

The groups that met in the building ranged from social and cultural clubs to fraternal societies to labor unions. In this way, the Roesch Building reflected a largely immigrant working-class population of the Mission, where issues of social and cultural identity and trade affiliations were paramount.

There were a large number of labor union members living in the district, and the neighborhood came to house the headquarters of many unions and organizations that catered to these interests.

During the years when labor unions and fraternal organizations were the most active, there were at least twenty halls located within a few blocks of Roesch Hall. Roesch Hall fit firmly into the larger context of social, cultural, fraternal, and labor-related activities in the Mission District and was one of many physical facilities in the area serving these groups.

German Americans

In the late 19th and early 20th century, the Mission District was home to large Irish, German, Italian, and Scandinavian communities. The Germans were particularly active in forming organizations, like singing and gymnastics clubs. These clubs in turn also took up political and social causes that influenced the further growth of politics, education, culture, and recreation in San Francisco. The Roesch Building, or "Roesch Halle," housed a couple of organizations

Marker inset: Stencil pattern image. Click for full size.
4. Marker inset: Stencil pattern
Stencil patterns were used on fabric wall paper in the auditorium, which was used as a social gathering place and meeting space for civic groups.
and businesses with German-American ethnic affiliations. Louis Roesch, himself German, was probably instrumental in attracting other German-Americans and their culturally-based organizations and businesses to use Roesch Hall.

As well as hosting regular meetings for German-American social and fraternal organizations, such as the Hessen Verein and the Improved Order of the Redmen, Roesch Hall was often the venue for large celebratory events put on by the German-American community. In the 1920s, the German-American California Journal posted numerous advertisements for events held at Roesch Hall, such as a performance by the "Theatralischer Familien-Abend" (Theatrical Family Association) and a Fruhjahrs-Fest (spring festival) and dance hosted by a Bavarian women's group.

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(Caption for crate labels:)

The Louis Roesch Company specialized in printing labels for the crated, canned, and bottled foods and wines produced by California's booming agricultural industry.


 
Erected 2013.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Fraternal or Sororal OrganizationsIndustry & CommerceLabor Unions.
 
Location. 37° 46.034′ N, 122° 25.202′ W. Marker is in San Francisco, California

Louis Roesch Advertisement <i>(click on photo to enlarge)</i> image. Click for full size.
By Louis Roesch Co. (image courtesy of waterfowlstampsandmore.com), circa 1915
5. Louis Roesch Advertisement (click on photo to enlarge)
Note the similarity between the Roesch building depicted here in the lithograph (of a watercolor) and as depicted on the marker (Photo No. 4), particularly the perspective, the smoke, and the placement of the animals and trolleys. One peculiar difference is visible at the top of the buildings - the marker's version dates the building at 1879, while the lithograph's versions dates it at 1906.
, in San Francisco City and County. Marker is at the intersection of Mission Street and 15th Street, on the right when traveling south on Mission Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1880 Mission Street, San Francisco CA 94103, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Site of Woodward's Gardens (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Coast Miwok (approx. 0.2 miles away); Site of Original Mission Dolores Chapel and Dolores Lagoon / Rammaytush (approx. ¼ mile away); Elixir (approx. 0.3 miles away); California Volunteers' Memorial (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Frank J. Portman Memorial Diorama (approx. 0.4 miles away); The Industrial Age (approx. 0.4 miles away); King of the Road! (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in San Francisco.
 
More about this marker. The marker was produced in response to one of the requirements imposed by the San Francisco Planning Commission as part of their approval of the new building project's final environmental documentation.
 
Also see . . .  Approval of Interpretive Display (San Francisco Planning Commission). Several documents related to the marker that were collected by the SF Planning Commission as part of the approval process. (Submitted on December 21, 2020.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on December 21, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 21, 2020, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California. This page has been viewed 52 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on December 21, 2020, by Andrew Ruppenstein of Sacramento, California.
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Mar. 7, 2021