Monday, November 13, 2006

Oldest Building in San Francisco

You can't believe everything you read. The sign outside the Officers Club in the Presidio says it is the oldest building in San Francisco. Yes, there is old adobe in some walls and in the foundation. But the bulk of the building is definitely 20th century.

The oldest building in San Francisco is Mission San Francisco de Asis, more commonly known as Mission Dolores. The original mission was built by the Spanish in 1776, along with the Presidio. The current building is about a block and a half from the site of the first mission building and dates back to 1791. Aside from the addition of electricity and some early 19th century furnishing, the mission looks little different from the way it did when founded. This sturdy building survived both the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes with little damage; although, the more modern parish church next door suffered extensive damage in 1906 and was torn down.

Aside the mission is one of only two cemeteries remaining in San Francisco. (Most cemeteries were removed from the city in the early 20th century to make room for the living. The other cemetery inside the city limits is the military cemetary in the Presidio.) There are many tombstones marking the final resting spot of early settlers and officials. Not marked are the graves of thousands of Native Americans buried in the cemetery and under the adjacent parking lot.

Mission Dolores is open daily from 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. A donation of $3.00 is requested upon admission. The church is located on the corner of Dolores and 16th Streets.

If you would like to take a San Francisco tour that includes a visit to Mission Dolores, call me at (866) 326-4237 or e-mail me by clicking here.


Fady said...

hey thanks for the info! My friend ask what the oldest building in SF is on So now i know!! Come join us!

Joel Pomerantz said...

Very recent (2011) research shows that the actual 1776 Mission building could have been anywhere in the area, including where the Mission is now.

The bronze plaques a couple blocks away (your reference) at Albion and Camp Streets are sadly wrong.

For a fascinating summary of the research, which includes retranslation of the early journals and waterway analysis, read this excellent article.

And for a full discussion, join me for a Water Walking Thinkwalk, based on the recent research.

Rick said...

Joel, I saw the article you mentioned. I am not a historian, but my understanding is that some historians support your view while others maintain that the original mission was where the plaque is located. Thanks for your interest. Rick