AKA: American Telephone and Telegraph Company (A, T and T), Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company, Office Building, South of Market, San Francisco, CA

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

Designers: Meyers and Ward, Architects (firm); Henry Haight Meyers (architect); Clarence Richard Ward (architect)

Dates: constructed 1901-1902

8 stories

71 2nd Street
South of Market, San Francisco, CA 94105

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The Wells Fargo Office Building #2 occupied the street addresses of 71-85 2nd Street.

Building History

The Wells Fargo Company, founded in 1852 by two Buffalo, NY, businessmen-- Henry Wells (1805-1878) and William G. Fargo (1818-1881)--began a financial services business in San Francisco. According to the firm's web site: "The new company offered banking (buying gold and selling paper bank drafts as good as gold) and express (rapid delivery of the gold and anything else valuable). In 1858, Wells Fargo helped start the Overland Mail Company — the famed “Butterfield Line” — to meet the demand for speedy communications across the west. In 1861, Wells Fargo also took over operations of the western leg of the famed, but short-lived, Pony Express. In 1866, Wells Fargo combined all the major western stage lines. Stagecoaches bearing the name Wells, Fargo & Co. rolled over 3,000 miles of territory, from California to Nebraska, and from Colorado into the mining regions of Montana and Idaho." (See Wells Fargo and Company, "History of Wells Fargo," accessed 08/26/2016.) Wells and Fargo had developed experience with express shipping methods in New York State. In 1850, they also started the American Express Company, (with John Warren Butterfield [1801-1869]), that had its headquarters in New York City; it, too, offered transport services of valuable goods, securities and currency, at first within New York State, but it rapidly expanded across the East. These three men wrote the book on express delivery services, particularly for financial documents, goods, and money, during the mid-to-late nineteenth century in the US.

Located on the northeast corner of 2nd and Mission Streets, Wells Fargo and Company erected this imposing Renaissance palazzo in 1902, from a design by architects Meyers and Ward. It sustained some damage in the San Francisco Earthquake and Fire of 1906, but was rebuilt and expanded the following year. Originally six stories in height, the company chose to expand its height by two stories following the temblor. According to architectural historian Michael Corbett: "The steel frame, clad in cinder concrete on a galvanized wire fabric, is a good example of what was considered to be fireproof construction in the period before the fire." (See Michael Corbett, Splendid Survivors, [San Francisco: California Living Book, 1979], p. 113.)

The Pacific Telephone Company, once a branch of the Bell System, occupied the building c. 1979 after Wells Fargo and Company vacated it for larger quarters.

Building Notes

Just after the quake of 04/18/1906, the State of California Supreme Court utilized rooms on the office building's top floor.


As has been noted, the building had two stories added to its top in 1907, and other seismic repairs were also done at this time.

The building also sustained some damage in the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 10/17/1989, requiring repairs. Architectural historian Stephen Tobriner has said of these repairs: "It was damaged again in the Loma Prieta earthquake, after which a special steel frame was inserted in its courtyard to limit drift and provide for extra strength." (See Stephen Tobriner, "Downtown San Francisco in Earthquake, FIre and Recovery," in 1906 San Francico Earthquake Centennial Field Guides, Carol S. Prentice, Judith G. Scotchmoor, Eldridge M. Moores, and Jon P. Kiland, ed., [Boulder, CO: Geological Society of America, 2006], p. 35.)

PCAD id: 439