Grace Cathedral : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

Does anyone know the history of the building that used to exist in front of Grace Cathedral on Taylor Street across from Huntington Park? I have seen pictures of the church with a white building in front of it where the steps are now. Just wondering if it was an apartment building, a single residence, etc. Why and how were they able to hold out for so long before selling it so that Grace could build the present day steps? Any help is appreciated.


-- Thomas Harrison (, August 12, 2001


Thamas, I believe that building belonged to the church. It was damaged in slightly in the 1989 earthquake and the cost would have been prohibitive to retrofit. They stairs had been designed many years before....

-- Craig Smith (, August 13, 2001.

Thomas (sorry). I also found this; the buildings in front were "Diocesan houses, elegant office buildings of the church, both reminiscent of the 17th century Mompesson house of Salisbury Cathedral close.".

-- Craig Smith (, August 13, 2001.

The block that is now occupied by Grace Cthedral was donated by Charles Crocker. Crocker was a millionaire who got the Central-Pacific Railroad all the way to California, using imported Chinese workers. Ironically, when he built his enormous palace on top of Nob Hill (including a gigantic 75' tower), he was not able to but the complete lot--one Chinese landowner refused to sell. Crocker built a huge wall around this fellow's house, which came to be known as Crocker's Spite Fence. The fence completely blocked in the Chinese man's house, and people came from all over the Bay area to wonder at it. Dennis Kearney and his mob even tried to pull it down at one point, but failed. After that, Crocker and his adversary settled and the wall came down. You can see the Spite Fence in Muybridge's panorama of 1874, a copy of which is near the men's restroom in the bar of the Huntington Hotel.

-- cdcummings (, December 12, 2001.

Cathedral House was built in 1911-1912 as Gibbs Hall, the second home of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific, the Episcopal seminary for the western United States. When the seminary moved to Berkeley in 1930, the building was used as the postgraduate School of the Prophets, and also housed the Grace Cathedral Dean, J. Wilmer Gresham. In 1960 the building became the cathedral administrative building. In 1993 the Cathedral recieved permission to demolish the building, damaged in the 1989 quake, to make room for the new front stairway.

-- Michael D. Lampen (archivist) (, January 30, 2002.

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