Strange Octogon House Below Fort Miley and Above Cliff House : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

There is a strange octogon like house that is located in the forest below Fort Miley and directly above the last parking lot above the Cliff House. I'm not really sure how many sides it has but it's sort of circular. It's well hidden in the middle of a mini forest with no other homes anywhere near. What the heck is that house and who lives there? Is this one of Sutro's remaining houses or was it a military officers home. I have never heard anything about it or read anything about it but someone still lives there. Remove * to email

-- Harry Murphy (*), May 18, 2002


This is the old Marine Exchange Lookout Station where ships approaching the Golden Gate were first observed and their arrivals telephoned downtown. The station's function was a direct outgrowth of the 1850s semaphore signals that announced the arrival of sailing ships during the Golde Rush. Built in the 1920s, the current station became obsolete with the advent of ship-to-shore radios. It's currently owned by the GGNRA and is occupied under long-term permit by a tenant who (I believe) is the daughter of the last Marine Exchange observer.

-- John Martini (, May 18, 2002.

My question is, as I am researching for a novel I am writing, was the Cliff house near what we called "The Beach", back in the 1940's. Also there was a "Bath" house nearby, that featured high diving boards and several swimming pools that was built, I am guessing in the 1920's. And, if my memory serves me, I was just a child then, Seal Rock was not too far away. Or has time compressed distances for me. I would appreciate anything you can give me. I want to call the bath house "Bimini" but that is just a name that pops up. Thanks,Gloria K.

-- Gloria Koehler (, July 11, 2002.

Gloria: You're referring to the late and greatly lamented Sutro Baths. This massive indoor museum/bath house/tropic beach/skating rink existed from 1894 until 1966 when, during demolition, it burned in a spectacular fire. There are several web sites about the Baths. Here are two to get you started:

-- John Martini (, July 11, 2002.

This was the Marine Exchange Lookout. It was built in the 1920's by a marine engineer. My mother's cousin is the present occupant of the building. Her father was the lookout and then her husband until his death in the 1960's. I visited many times. It was a very compact building and certainly small for a family of five children. I remember fondly looking through the telescope trying to spot a ship - never had much luck. There was an article in the SF newspaper when the Marine Exchange retired the station due to new technology. My mother's cousin grew up in the house, then when she married moved away = happily I might add. The story was that my Uncle Larsen took the job in the 1920's. My Aunt was not happy because they had to move from a large flat on Filbert St. to a small and very tight octagon shaped house. They had to get rid of most of their furniture, no room at The Point, which is what my family called the house.

-- Claren Palmer (, February 07, 2004.

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