Structure Type: built works - dwellings - housing - affordable housing

Designers: Bugbee, S.C., and Son, Architects (firm); Butler, M.F., Architect (firm); Charles Lewis Bugbee (architect); Samuel Charles Bugbee (architect); M. F. Butler (architect)

Dates: constructed 1867

3 stories

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375 Laguna Honda Boulevard
San Francisco, CA


The City and County of San Francisco Almshouse was located on the Ocean House Road, four-and-a-half miles from City Hall. (See San Francisco, California, City Directory, 1869, p. 69.) It was located on a hilly tract of land that the almoners farmed, making them relatively self-sufficient.

Building History

The Almshouse had been largely completed before 05/1867, as the San Francisco Board of Supervisors paid Kimball and Brothers, Building Contractors, $8,000 to construct the Almshouse in 05/1867, and the architects, Butler and Bugbee, $578.75 for their services. (See "How the Cash Goes," Daily Alta California, vol. 19, no. 6262, 05/07/1867, p. 1.) The architects earned an additional $214.75 during 10/1867 for services rendered on Almshouse buildings. (See "How the Cash Goes," Daily Alta California, vol. 19, no. 6429, 10/22/1867, p. 1.)

The San Francisco Call noted in its issue of 07/20/1894: "The Board of Supervisors was notified to-day by the Health Department that more complete facilities for the protection of life and property in case of fire at the Almshouse are absolutely necessary and should be provided." (See "The Almshouse in Danger," San Francisco Call, 07/20/1894, p. 8.)

Building Notes

Throughout 1867, various added elements of the Almshouse were being funded by the Board of Supervisors and completed, including a water tank, stable, reservoir, and fence. The Clerk of the SF Board of Supervisors placed a classified ad in the Daily Alta California newspaper soliciting contractor bids to erect a tower, tank and stable by 05/12/1867, and a new Almshouse reservoir by 10/14/1867. The clerk requested sealed proposals "...For five days for furnishing materials and constructing a Tower, Tank and Stable; also for laying the necessary Water Pipes for Almshouse Building, situate some three and a half miles southwest from the City Hall. The works is to be done in a good and workmanlike manner, and to be completed in all respects to the satisfaction of the Committee on Public Buildings, and under the superintendence and supervision of Messrs. Butler & Bugbee, Architects, rooms Nos. 73 and 74 Montgomery Block, where the modified plans and specifications are now open for inspection." (See "Proposals for Constructing Tower, Tank, Stable, Etc., for Almshouse Building," Daily Alta California, vol. 19, no. 6264, 05/09/1867, p. 4.)

The reservoir was to be dimensioned and detailed as follows: "Depth of excavation, twenty feet; diameter twenty feet; to rise two feet above surface of the ground; to be laid in 8 inch brick, twenty-two feet, fourteen feet dry laid, and eight feet to the top in cement; the reservoir to be circular in form, and to correspond with specifications on file from this office." "(See "Proposals for Almshouse Reservoir," Daily Alta California, vol. 19, np. 6419, 10/12/1867, p. 4.)

When it first opened, the Almshouse did not admit African- or Chinese-Americans. It was only after a larger water supply was established in 1867 that campaigns began to open the facilities to all San Franciscans. An article appeared in the Daily Alta California on 10/31/1867 stating: "We are glad to see that the report started by an evening contemporary, that Chinese mendicants were refused admission to the Almshouse, is corrected. It appears that arrangements for a more extensive supply of water for ablution, etc., are in progress at the Almshouse, and pending their completion, Chief Crowley has been requested to provide temporary quarters for all classes of paupers in the County Jail or Calaboose. The Chinese and negroes are taxed, like all other people, to support the Almshouse and hospitals, and it is but right that they should have the benefit of such institutions when required." (See "Corrected," Daily Alta California, 10/31/1867, p. 1.)

PCAD id: 20832