Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - banks (buildings)

Designers: Huerne, Prosper L.E., Architect and Engineer (firm); Prosper Louis-Etienne Huerne (engineer)

Dates: constructed 1859

Jackson Street and Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94133

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The first offices of the Hibernia Savings and Loan Society operated on the northeast corner of Jackson and Montgomery Streets.


The Hibernia Savings and Loan Society was founded by members of San Francisco Irish-American community, some of whom had been Gold Rush miners. "Hibernia" was the Roman name for Ireland. Under the management of John Sullivan and the Tobin Family, the bank thrived during the last half of the 19th century, becoming California's largest bank by 1900.

Building History

This early banking institution served as a gold depository for many Irish miners active in the Gold Rush of 1849. It was located at the corner of Jackson Street and Montgomery Street. An early Euro-American settler, John Sullivan founded wthe bank in 1859 with several Irish stockholders. In 1895, the San Francisco Call said of Sullivan's foundation of the bank: “On April 2, 1859, he organized, with Robert J. Tobin, William McCann, John C. Horan, D.J. O’Callaghan, Michael Cody, N.K. Masten, John Mel, C.D. O’Sullivan, James Ross, Edward Martin and John McHugh, the now celebrated Hibernia Savings and Loan Society. He became its first president, John McHugh vice-president, John Mel treasurer and Richard Tobin attorney. It was then a stock institution with a capital of $600,000, divided into 6000 shares.” (See “John Sullivan’s Estate,” San Francisco Call, vol. 79, no. 28, 12/28/1895, p. 3. It is possible that the Call got the date of its organization wrong, as most sources dated its establishment to 04/12/1859.) The bank reorganized itself in 1862 and 1864 as a membership organization. This formal incorporation occurred on 08/24/1864. (See Justia, "Jacob v. Hibernia Bank," accessed 11/24/2020.)

Its founder, John Sullivan, came to the Bay Area in the mid-to-late 1840s before news of the gold strike at Sutter's Mill reached the outside world. The San Francisco Call said of him: “John Sullivan came to California in 1847 from St. Joseph, MO., by way of the Truckee Pass. He settled in San Francisco and bought real estate. The title of deeds of his two fifty-paras on the corner of Pacific and Dupont streets bear the date of 1846. When gold was discovered he located at Sullivan’s Creek, Tuolumne County, which rich claim he discovered. Bancroft states that in one day he made $20,000 in mining. He opened a store at that place and sold merchandise at fancy prices. All the profits he invested in San Francisco real estate.” (See (See “John Sullivan’s Estate,” San Francisco Call, vol. 79, no. 28, 12/28/1895, p. 3.) Sullivan assiduously purchased land in San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. During his life, the banker donated land and money to the Catholic Church, underwriting the foundation of several neighborhood churches, including Saint Francis Church and Saint Patrick's Church (later renamed "Holy Cross"), and other institutions, including Sacred Heart College, Catholic Orphan Asylum, and Presentation Convent. (See “John Sullivan’s Estate,” San Francisco Call, vol. 79, no. 28, 12/28/1895, p. 3.)

Due to its fine public service, the bank grew consistently during the last half of the 19th century. It operated here until it moved to larger quarters at the Montgomery Street and Post Street.

PCAD id: 17040