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The San Francisco Cliff Houseby Mary Germain Hountalas
Synopses & Reviews
The shifting fortunes of San Franciscos legendary Cliff House, from raucous seaside roadhouse to fanciful Victorian palace to world-renowned urban destination, are celebrated in this comprehensive illustrated history.
The story of San Franciscos Cliff House begins in 1863 with a modest white clapboard building perched on a rocky promontory overlooking the Pacific. Little more than three decades later, following a devastating fire, visionary millionaire Adolph Sutro oversaw construction of an imposing Victorian edifice on the same site. His 1896 “gingerbread palace” drew everyone to its doorstep, from working-class families to the citys social elite to three U.S. presidents. That grand structure withstood the great earthquake of 1906, but burned to the ground a year later. Sutros oldest daughter, Emma Sutro Merritt, immediately set to work on a new Cliff House, which opened in 1909.
In the century since then, the Cliff House has survived a handful of destructive storms, two major earthquakes, three nearby fires, two closures, several facelifts, the swinging sixties, the not-so-swinging seventies, and the often grindingly slow decisions of government. Despite these and other challenges, todays Cliff House, now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, is enjoying a renaissance following a two-year, multimillion-dollar restoration. This lavishly illustrated volume chronicles the fortunes of the legendary landmark and the people associated with it-a colorful story that parallels both the history and the irrepressible spirit of the city of San Francisco.
The history of this fabled site spans 150 years, beginning in
About the Author
MARY GERMAIN HOUNTALAS has been operating the Cliff House in partnership with her husband, Dan Hountalas, since 1973. Over the years, she has become a serious historian of the building and its environs and a dedicated collector of countless artifacts associated with it, including vintage photographs, postcards, menus, and other memorabilia from every era. She resides in Sausalito, California.
SHARON SILVA is a freelance editor and writer living in San Francisco, California.
Table of Contents
Introduction: A History of Hospitality - 9
Part One - The Early Years - 13
Part Two - The Sutro Years - 43
Part Three - The Whitney Years - 89
Part Four - The Uncertain Years - 147
Part Five - The Cliff House Today - 181
Selected Bibliography - 210
Acknowledgments - 212
Index - 214
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