All posts tagged: history

George Kelham’s Castles

Contribution by Peter Garland. When one day I realized that many of my favorite buildings in the Bay Area were designed by the same architect, George W. Kelham (1871-1936), I sought his story and found no one had ever written it.  Nor had he left any papers or memoirs from which to put such a story together.  However, with the help of the staff of the San Francisco History Room at our Main Library (Kelham designed the old Main), who guided me to the San Francisco Chronicle’s on-line historical files (1865-1922) as well as further guidance from the staff of the Environmental Library of U.C. Berkeley, I was able to piece the jigsaw puzzle together. I found an astonishing story of an American Renaissance prince and his princess-like wife who lived a life of such incredible success and polish that they seem the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers of the architectural world. On May 15, 1871, George W. Kelham was born in Manchester, Massachusetts, the son and grandson of furniture merchants. He graduated from Harvard and …

BayMo reads book review

BayMo Books: San Francisco’s Jewel City

Whizzing by the Nut Tree on I-80 reminded me of what it used to be – a mini theme park. As kids, we sat in the back hoping Mom would stop there or at the putt-putt golf at Cordelia Junction. But no. Much later, as an adult, I finally entered the Nut Tree to meet my aunt and uncle for lunch. It looked like a hopped-up Howard Johnson with a sprawling “general store” offering country-style gifts. I wish I could remember whether the employees wore costumes. Everyday we walk into imagined spaces. Businesses and homes with intentional décor serve us up a universe, complete with soundtrack. These purposeful environments make us feel things. Sofia asked a couple of weeks ago what that means for us. In a way, we enter somebody’s stage. When a place is a crazy, dressed up fantasy world we might call it a Disneyland or a Times Square. At the other end of the spectrum, a museum curates its own classier world. There was a time when the World’s Fair set …