Structure Type: built works - religious structures - cemeteries

Designers: Jones and Emmons, Architects (firm); Frederick Earl Emmons (architect); Archibald Quincy Jones (architect)

Dates: constructed 1952-1953, demolished 2000

2 stories

1 Church Street
Mint Hill, San Francisco, CA 94114

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Following World War II, Daphne developed an interest in Modern architecture, and enlisted the assistance of Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) but broke off dealings with him before a design was finalized. Following his break with Wright, Daphne was traveling in Palm Springs, CA, where he became impressed with buildings in the Town and Country Center (1948) designed by architects Paul R. Williams (1894-1980) and his one-time employee, A. Quincy Jones (1913-1979). (Jones worked for Williams in 1939-1940.) He engaged Jones and his partner, Frederick Emmons (1907-1999) who produced this startlingly open and non-traditional building for Daphne. Writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, 07/31/1999, writer Ken Garcia summarized the importance of the Daphne: "[It] is considered a sterling example of mid-century modernism, a simple yet sophisticated blend of angles, surfaces and materials that fit in superbly with its elevated surroundings. Designed by famed Southern California architect A. Quincy Jones, the building uses redwood, brick and generous amounts of glass in a innovative design that combines indoor/outdoor chapels and mortuary rooms. A number of architectural historians consider the building one of Jones' finest works, although he received more attention locally for his designs for Eichler homes. The idea for a modernistic funeral home was the idea of maverick mortuary owner Nicholas P. Daphne, who became known for low-cost funerals and earned the ire of his competitors in the process. Daphne, who died in 1990, helped break the monopoly of price-fixing in his industry, and he served as a consultant to Jessica Mitford, the late Bay Area writer, for her famous expose on the funeral industry, 'The American Way of Death.' Daphne wanted an iconoclastic design to fit within his marketing scheme, which is how he selected Jones, who was making a name for himself as a pioneer in modernistic buildings in Los Angeles. The mortuary, considered the first Modern funeral parlor, has been included in a number of books on notable buildings in the Bay Area and has been called by preservationists one of the greatest commercial buildings in San Francisco and a 'modernistic masterpiece.'" (See Ken Garcia, "Calling Out Landmark Brigade; Daphne, New Mission have come under siege," San Francisco Chronicle, 07/31/1999, Accessed via LexisNexis, 06/17/2011.)

According to San Francisco County Assessor records, the Daphne Funeral Home had 25 rooms and 5 baths; construction began in 1952.

Demolished. Proposed demolition of this Modern building sparked a flurry of protests c. 1998-2000. The San Francisco Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board (LPAB) ruled in a hearing on 04/21/1998 meeting: "The architectural integrity of the building's design had been compromised by the alterations." Other comments about the building included: "The building presented itself as light and delicate, an example of an "utopian" modernist building--one that didn't belong in San Francisco." (Accessed 06/17/2011.) This last comment may have been a veiled criticism of the architects who came from Los Angeles, CA. The LPAB stated that the Daphne Funeral Home was not qualified for the National Register of Historic Places, and was not significant enough to delay the construction of 93 low-cost housing units financed by the City of San Francisco and the Bridge Housing Corporation. The San Francisco Planning Commission ruled at its 10/14/1999 meeting that the Daphne should not be preserved. Commissioners Anita Theoharis (President), Beverly Mills (Vice-President), Dennis Antenore, , Cynthia Joe, Linda Richardson voted for demolition. Commissioners Hector Chinchilla and Larry Martin were absent from this key vote. (See "Minutes of Planning Commission Calendars October 1999 San Francisco Planning Commission,Accessed 06/17/2011.) The Daphne Funeral Home was demolished after all appeals were exhausted in 2000.

PCAD id: 16582