Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Laver, Augustus, Architect (firm); Laver, Mullany and Laver, Architects (firm); Charles James Fox Laver (architect); Patrick Mullany (architect)

Dates: [unspecified]

Building History

Unbuilt. The firm of Augustus Laver and its successor firm of Laver, Mullany and Laver, worked on an office building for the liquor merchant Anson P. Hotaling, Sr., in 1889 and 1890. The architects did not receive payment for their work, and by 1892, took Hotaling to court to recover the fees. The San Francisco Examiner reported in 1892: “Augustus Laver, Patrick Mullany and C.J.F. Laver have commenced suit in the Superior Court against A.P. Hotaling for the recovery of $8,125, alleged to be due them on account of labor and services as architects rendered the defendant in the preparation of plans and specifications for a building to be erected on the northeasterly corner of Market, Hayes and Larkin streets. The complaints allege that the period of their service extended from December 19, 1889, to July 20, 1890, and were fully worth the amount sued for, no part of which has been paid, although frequent demands have been made for the same. The defendant, Hotaling, so states the complaint, has refused to reject or accept the plans, in whole or in part, and has informedplaintiffs that he has abandoned the purpose of erecting the proposed building.”(See “Sued by the Architects,” San Francisco Examiner, 05/01/1892, p. 8.)

Three years later, nothing had been decided. The Examiner again reported in 1895:“Five years ago A.P. Hotaling, who owns the lot at the northeast corner of Larkin and Market streets, made up his mind that it should remain vacant no longer. He was advised that a corner lot so near to the City Hall should be the foundation of a tall building with a tower and a clock, and that the rents thereof would be the foundation of an independent fortune. Mr. Hotaling is now the defendant in a case brought against him by Architect Augustus Laver. The plaintiff says he was asked by Mr. Hotaling to inspect the lot and prepare plans and specification for an appropriate building. The architect did the work, and says he spent several months evolving plans for a structure that would satisfy Mr. Hotaling. The plans—there are about twenty of them—include side views, front views, corner views and back views. Mr. Hotaling was on the stand yesterday afternoon and denied ever having given Mr. Laver the order to complete the plans. He admitted that he called at Mr. Laver’s office to see about them. The case goes on to-day.” (See “Laver Wants His Pay,” San Francisco Examiner, 04/18/1895, p. 16.)

An article in the Santa Cruz Sentinelof 04/17/1895 reported: “The building was to have been eight stories in height, and the estimated cost was $325,000. When the plans were ready for building Mr. Hotaling was not. The architects claim that they were entitled to 2 ½ per cent on the estimated cost.” (See “Didn’t Pay the Architect,” Santa Cruz Sentinel, 04/17/1895, p. 1.)

Laver traveled abroad during 1896 and the trial likely could not go on in his absence.

The litigation continued for at least two more years, as Hotaling did not choose to pay the architects for their work. It was returned by an appeals court on a technicality regarding standard architects' fees introduced as evidence which was then affirmed by the CA State Supreme Court which ordered a new trial. (See"Will Be Tried Again," Santa Cruz Sentinel, 01/21/1897, p. 3.)

It is not clear how or if the case was ever settled. It likely became too expensive for Laver and his associates to continue, and Laver passed away in San Francisco in 1898. Wealthy clients often continue cases indefinitely, banking on poorer opponents not being able to afford long litigation efforts.

PCAD id: 25208