California Heritage Council

MARCH, 2009, NEWSLETTER and NOTICE of March 26th Board of Directors & Members Meeting


3:30 PM TOUR OF THE NORTH WATERFRONT: Meet promptly at the corner of Bay & Kearny Streets.

4:30 PM MEETING: Meet promptly at the offices of our host, RON KAUFMAN, NO. 1 LOMBARD Street, Suite 201 (intersection of Battery & Lombard Sts. on the Embarcadero, San Francisco. The building at No. 1 Lombard stands out as it is entirely made of brick (circa 1895). If you are not taking the walking tour and only attending our meeting, please arrive promptly at 4:30 PM, as Mr. Kaufman will be taking us to a nearby location for our meeting.

PARKING: Non-metered parking on both sides of Bay Street (2 hr. limit); also metered parking near and around No. 1 Lombard (you may need to feed your meter as it is most likely 1 or 2 hour parking until 7 PM); Parking garage: turn into Kearny off Bay St., proceed to 80 Francisco St. or Parking lot (pay machine) at the foot of Bay & the Embarcadero.

President’s Message - Bill Applegate:

Dear CHC Colleagues: We are in for a real treat March 26 when we go on a walking tour of the North Waterfront, thanks to Neil Malloch, and of course to our gracious host, Ron Kauffman, the masterful author of the magnificently restored and well preserved North Waterfront. The following is a condensation of an article that was featured in the The Barbary Coast News March 21 2006.

It captures the spirit of a special neighborhood and a man of great vision and determination. A tough area, a difficult era, and a remarkable turnaround story ...a solid lesson in the success that comes from vision, passion, focus and perseverance....virtues I trust will see us all through the coming months and years. I look forward to seeing you all at 3:30 PM on the 26th of March at the corner of Bay and Kearny Streets.

On our special neighborhood:


Ron Kaufman and the amazing work he’s done to save many historic, beautiful old buildings in the North Waterfront section of the Barbary Coast is almost legendary. To many, his name is synonymous with the North Waterfront itself.
B.R. (Before Ron)
Before Kaufman arrived on the scene, the worn down warehouses dotting the flat land beneath Telegraph Hill—land we now know as North Waterfront—was considered a blighted area. From the mid-1800s, the warehouses on Green, Union, Battery, Vallejo and Chestnut Streets served the needs of San Francisco’s burgeoning population as well as provided supplies for gold miners heading up to the Sierras.

Robert Courtland’s book The Old North Waterfront describes the North Waterfront in the 1950s as “crumbling buildings bounded by streets still paved with 19th century paving stones.” There were no trees. Trucks, rather than people, filled the sidewalks. And, after dark, night descended upon the streets and left the area desolate.

Courtland’s account of general attitudes at the time his book was published states: “The prevailing thought in 1960 was that older neighborhoods had to be completely leveled and rebuilt from scratch.” San Francisco’s City Fathers were of the same mind. And one by one, the old warehouses were being torn down.

Enter Ron Kaufman
Early on he had a vision of what the North Waterfront might look like if only someone cared enough—and could find the funds—to rescue these magnificent old brick buildings.

In 1959 Kaufman, then a young real estate broker, was working with National Ice and Cold Storage on Union Street to relocate their business to larger facilities. National Ice asked Kaufman to “do something” with their Union Street historic building. About the same time, a real estate investor, Leonard Cahn, joined Kauffman,,who had a background in art, architectural history and urban land economics, and the two men formed NWA, North Waterfront Associates. Two buildings housing the old Ice & Cold Storage Company became the first example of their creative union. That project was, for Kaufman, the beginning of his life’s work: the restoration of the North Waterfront.

Over the years, Kaufman, who was known for his imaginative use of space and light, would rehabilitate 25 buildings and bring many of them national attention as Historic Landmarks.
Kaufman continues his work in real estate development, specializing in preservation. Today, his company, Ron Kaufman Companies, is an asset (real estate) management company with its offices in the historic One Lombard Building. His passion remains in the economic growth and maintenance of the distinctive character of the North Waterfront. “This is a very special neighborhood,” he says as he gazes out the window, over rooftops toward the Bay. “Here we have less pollution, less traffic, and more open space than in the Financial District.”

This is a special man, and we owe him thanks for his vision, imagination and dogged determination to save the North Waterfront for all of us.

Editor’s Note: You may enjoy reading "The Old North Waterfront" by Robert Courland. The book is available through William Stout Architectural Books, 804 Montgomery Street. Price: $45.


101 Vallejo (Daniel Gibb Warehouse/MVB Law Offices)
50 Green Street (W. P. Fuller Glass Warehouse/Landor Associates)
151 Union (National Ice & Cold Storage/Williams-Sonoma Corp. Headquarters)
1050 Battery (Armour & Company Pork Packers/ Ketchum Communications)
One Lombard (Merchants’ Ice & Cold Storage/ SF Bay Club)
1725 Montgomery Street (Globe Mills Annex/ offices)
140 Chestnut Street (Globe Mills / offices)
150 Chestnut Street (Globe Mills/ EDAW)
55 Francisco (Fibreboard Building/offices)

Chair of the Board Remarks - John Hodges:

Last month we sent along information about our upcoming trip to Grass Valley scheduled for April 24-26. This month I want to give information about our trip to the Empire Mine and give you some additional information about the Bourn family.

Those of you who have signed up for this visit will receive a separate mailing about directions and details for the field trip. But for all CHC members, let me detail some facts about two of the last bonanza kings.

While the great mining bonanzas of the 19th-century West made eastern California and Nevada the subject of legend, much of the wealth from the mines flowed to San Francisco and made possible the growth of the city and personal fortunes. Among the wealthiest and most powerful of the Bonanza Kings was William Bowers Bourn I and his son and successor, William Bowers Bourn II. Let me tell you about these remarkable people.

The elder Bourn, descendant of an early New England family, arrived in San Francisco shortly after the discovery of gold in the Sierra foothills. Although he eventually invested heavily in mines in Grass Valley and on the Comstock, his initial success was as a businessman in the booming port city. After his tragic death in 1874, the family's many business interests were taken over by Bourn's young son, William II.

The younger Bourn built upon his father's success, expanding the Empire Mine in Grass Valley into the largest, most productive and technologically advanced hard rock gold mine in the West, acquiring additional mining properties on the Comstock and on Treasure Hill in eastern Nevada, and developing a range of business ventures, including a vast water system that was to become the basis for San Francisco's present water supply. The Bourn family loved the Napa Valley and grape farming and built Greystone Cellar.

Like many other wealthy men of his generation, William Bourn II was a generous donor to worthy causes and an enthusiastic patron of the arts, supporting such projects as the SF Symphony, the Panama Pacific International Exposition of 1915, the construction of the present quarters of the Pacific Union Club, and the creation of his own final home, Filoli, a vast Italianate estate on the Peninsula south of San Francisco. Will Bourn and his wife Agnes are buried there.

They passed quietly into California's history, unlike so many of the Bonanza Kings. but they wanted it that way. Very interesting people, and more about them on our field trip.

Minutes of the February 26, 2009 Board of Directors and Members’ Meeting. The meeting came to order at 4:00 PM at the CHC offices in the Presidio of San Francisco. Ex. Vice President, Chris Layton, presiding. Directors present: Winchell Hayward, John Hodges, Redmond Kernan, Herb Konkoff, Christopher & Adele Layton, Mai Kai Lee, Jules Levaggi, Bill Betty Ann Prien, Dianne Rowe, Susan Walima, Gary Widman.

Presidio Update - Gary Widman & Redmond Kernan: The new “preferred alternative design” for the Fisher Museum, Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement, and Section 106 documents are just becoming available from the Trust. The Presidio Historical Association is opposed to the new design. There will be a 45-day comment period. CHC will write a comment letter and we urge all to attend the public meetings when those dates are announced. (See calendar of events below.) There are grounds for a lawsuit if the Trust proceeds with placing the museum on the Main Post parade grounds.

Grass Valley/Nevada City trip April 25-26 : John Hodges will be sending maps and a complete itinerary of activities closer to the date. We will be visiting the Northstar Mine and a Julia Morgan home on Sunday.

Awards Nominations: The Charles Krug Winery was nominated by Chris Layton. Richard Torney presented a completed nomination form for The West Point Inn, located on Mt. Tamalpais, Mill Valley. It is owned by the Marin Municipal Water District and operated by the West Point Inn Assoc. It dates to 1904 and is the sole surviving structure of Mt. Tamalpais’ once famous scenic railway. It is still in operation as a hostel. Fred Runner, author & historian, of The Crookedest Railroad in the World spoke about the history of “West Point.”

Meeting Locations/Suggestions: Tony Aguirre visited the gardens at the Carolans in Hillsborough with the San Mateo Historical Assoc. He suggested contacting the owners with a request for our group to visit and hold our May meeting there. He is willing to draft a letter and follow up with a telephone call to the owners.

Old Business: Gold Bear: We are still waiting for a quote from Farmer’s Insurance. Yusuf Uraiqat and Dianne Rowe had an appointment with Keith Weisbeck, the Service Manger at the Wells Fargo Branch. Due to an emergency, this meeting had to be postponed and a new meeting date is being arranged.

California Cable Car Line: Winchell Hayward advised that he rented a metal detector and, from the results, believes the California Street cable car tracks are still there. After discussion, approval was given to Winchell to draft a letter to the City suggesting they extend the California Street cable car line along its original route.

New Business: Christopher Layton read President Bill Applegate’s appointments to the Executive Committee: They are: Bill Applegate, Christopher Layton, Yusuf Uraiqat, Winchell Hayward, Dianne Rowe, Betty Ann Prien
Marsha Calegari, John Hodges ex- officio.

CALENDAR OF FUTURE MEETINGS & EVENTS (Please mark your calendar):

      March 26: 5:30PM: Presidio Golf Club, Presidio Historical Assoc. Special Briefing to prepare for the last stages of the Presidio Trust’s plans for the Main Post. RSVP

      April 1: 8:30AM: Presidio Trust Meeting re Main Post, Golden Gate Club, 135 Fisher Loop.

      April 7: 6:30PM: Presidio Trust Meeting re Main Post, Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon Street.

      April 16: 6:00Pm: Presidio Trust Meeting re Main Post, Golden Gate Club, 135 Fisher Loop.

      April 20: Deadline: Final Comments to Presidio Trust re Main Post development.

April 25-26: CHC Trip to Grass Valley/Nevada City.

May 28: CHC Board of Directors and Membership Meeting. Location pending.

June 25: Annual Awards Dinner.

Jefferson Street Mansion in Benicia, CA Jefferson Street Mansion
   in Benicia, CA

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