AKA: City of Paris Department Store #5, Union Square, San Francisco, CA; Liberty House at the City of Paris Department Store, Union Square, San Francisco, CA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - department stores

Designers: Bakewell and Brown, Architects (firm); Day, Clinton, Architect (firm); John Bakewell Jr. (architect); Arthur Brown Jr. (architect); Clinton Day (architect)

Dates: constructed 1906-1907, demolished 1981

6 stories

150 Stockton
San Francisco, CA 94108-5807

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Southeas corner of Stockton and Geary Streets

The Verdier Family operated the City of Paris as a favorite city institution between 1850-1972. Architect Clinton Day's City of Paris Department Store #4 (1896) suffered significant damage during the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 04/18-19/1906; the fashionable San Francisco architecture firm of Bakewell and Brown redesigned the ruined interior within Day's gutted shell. They enlisted the assistance of French architect Louis Bourgeois to provide an authentically Gaulic character. This new City of Paris Store, opened in 1907. Like most major San Francisco retailers, the City of Paris opened a temporary emporium on Van Ness Avenue between 1906-1907 while its new store was being rebuilt. In the post-war era, the City of Paris became a chain of stores, spreading beyond Union Square to Vallejo, San Mateo, Northgate, and Stonestown. The Verdiers sold the financially-ailing City of Paris in 03/1972. Amfac Corporation, a Hawaiian conglomerate, bought the venerable retailer and renamed the 1909 portion of the Union Square store "Liberty House at the City of Paris," a cumbersome moniker. Amfac maintained the Union Square location until 1974, when Neiman Marcus made a substantial offer for the prime Union Square site. Liberty House tore down the 1918 Stockton Street and O'Farrell Street Annex, and created an ill-fated Liberty House-branded store that opened in 09/1974.

The flagship City of Paris Department Store on Union Square was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the roll of California Historical Landmarks. Preservationists for the State of California called it "...one of the finest examples of the beaux-arts style of commercial building in California." (See "California State Historical Landmarks in San Francisco County,"Accessed 02/25/2011.) This recognition did not save the stately building from the wrecking ball.

In 1918, an annex was added to the store on the northeast corner of Stockton Street and O'Farrell Street.

Demolished; a huge uproar occurred when demolition of the City of Paris was first proposed in the 1970s; the fight helped to galvanize the historic preservation movement in San Francisco. Despite widespread support, the 72-year-old store was torn down in 1981 to make way for Johnson/Burgee's and Kendall/Heaton's Neiman Marcus Department Store. Johnson/Burgee, during the era of Post Modernism, "contextually" incorporated the Bakewell and Brown building's beloved glass atrium and its stained glass ceiling into their new design, as a sop to preservationists. The City of Paris was torn down at roughly the same time as another landmark on Union Square, the Fitzhugh Building #2 (1923).

California Historical Landmark: 876

PCAD id: 984