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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
San Francisco in San Francisco City and County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Save the Palace

Campaigns and Close Calls

 
 
Save the Palace Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 8, 2014
1. Save the Palace Marker
Inscription. "Therefore, let us preserve our Palace of Fine Arts as long as possible, six months, six years, or any length of time — maybe someday it can be made permanent…
Willis Polk, 1915

It is difficult to contemplate San Francisco without the Palace of Fine Arts, one of the city's most beloved landmarks. Bernard Maybeck's masterpiece, part of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915, had an auspicious start as one of the favorite buildings of the fair. Its fate, however, was not always certain.

Before the PPIE closed, Phoebe Apperson Hearst had already launched a campaign to preserve the Palace. Although San Franciscans eagerly took up the cause, the site managed to escape destruction because of its location on U.S. Army land.

Over the following decades the Palace, built only to last a year, fell into ruin. Its former fine arts galleries were repurposed for such diverse uses as indoor tennis courts, a World War II Army motor pool, telephone book distribution center, and fire department headquarters.

By the 1950s, the site had deteriorated dramatically. In 1959, philanthropist Walter Johnson spearheaded an effort to raise preservation funds and donated $4 million. In 1964, the buildings were stripped to their foundations and a permanent version of Maybeck's design was
Marker detail: 1956 Palace of Fine Arts Inspection image. Click for full size.
Courtesy of San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
2. Marker detail: 1956 Palace of Fine Arts Inspection
Walter Johnson (left) and California Assemblyman Caspar Weinberger (right) inspected the crumbling ruin in 1956. Both were instrumental in the 1960s campaign to save the Palace.
reconstructed in steel and cement with details cast from the original.

However, by the end of the 20th century, the Palace of Fine Arts needed further restoration. The "Light Up the Palace" campaign in the late 1980s funded improvements to exterior lighting for the rotunda and colonnades. In 2003, the Maybeck Foundation partnered with the City of San Francisco to raise $21 million for significant seismic upgrades, conservation of the dome, colonnade and rotunda, and improvements to the landscape and lagoon. Once again San Francisco rallied to save its Palace for the enjoyment of future generations.

(marker photo captions)
• In 2007, the dome exterior was waterproofed and painted orange, similar to its color in 1915. Most of the recent restoration work is not publicly visible, such as the seismic upgrades inside the structure. Photographer: Charles Duncan.
• Walter Johnson (left) and California Assemblyman Caspar Weinberger (right) inspected the crumbling ruin in 1956. Both were instrumental in the 1960s campaign to save the Palace. Courtesy of San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
• Phoebe Apperson Hearst. Courtesy of the California Historical Society FN-32539.
• In 1915, Maybeck incorporated the exposition's color scheme and ice plant walls into the Palace's design. Courtesy of the Maybeck
Marker detail: The original wood and plaster dome of the Palace of Fine Arts was demolished in 1964 image. Click for full size.
Courtesy of San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
3. Marker detail: The original wood and plaster dome of the Palace of Fine Arts was demolished in 1964
Foundation
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• The original wood and plaster dome of the Palace of Fine Arts was demolished in 1964. Courtesy of San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.
 
Erected by Shreve & Co.
 
Location. 37° 48.207′ N, 122° 26.834′ W. Marker is in San Francisco, California, in San Francisco City and County. Marker can be reached from Baker Street north of Beach Street, on the right when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is located along the Fine Arts Palace lagoon walkway, overlooking the lagoon. Marker is in this post office area: San Francisco CA 94123, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Bernard Maybeck (1862-1957) (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The PPIE Experience (about 500 feet away); The Palace Lagoon (about 600 feet away); Lincoln Beachey (approx. ¼ mile away); Homeland of the Yelamu (approx. 0.4 miles away); Marina Air Field (approx. 0.4 miles away); First Women in the Army: U.S. Army Nurse Corps (approx. 0.4 miles away); Presidio of San Francisco (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in San Francisco.
 
Also see . . .  A Short History of the Palace of Fine Arts. After the devastation of the
Save the Palace Marker (<i>wide view; overlooking the lagoon</i>) image. Click for full size.
4. Save the Palace Marker (wide view; overlooking the lagoon)
1906 earthquake and fire, San Francisco was anxious to show the world that it had risen from the ashes. So in 1910, business and civic leaders gathered to discuss making San Francisco the site of the century’s first great world’s fair. Like other features of the fair, the Palace was intended as ephemeral; at the close of the exposition, it would come down. But when the exposition ended, the Palace lived on — saved from demolition by the Palace Preservation League, founded by Phoebe Apperson Hearst while the fair was still in progress. Today the Palace of Fine Arts is the last reminder of a great gathering that welcomed the world back to San Francisco. (Submitted on March 16, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Categories. ArchitectureMan-Made FeaturesParks & Recreational Areas
 
Palace of Fine Arts Rotunda & Colonnade (<i>view from marker</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, July 8, 2014
5. Palace of Fine Arts Rotunda & Colonnade (view from marker)
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on March 16, 2019. This page originally submitted on March 15, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 124 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on March 16, 2019, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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