Phaedrus BMW on Jackson Street.
This building was built in 1914 as an investment for the Thomas B. Bishop Company to designs by O’Brien Brothers, architects. Its primary use through 1945 was as a public garage, and it was named the Jackson Garage for most of that time. From 1946 through the present its primary use has been as an auto repair shop.
The O’Brien Brothers, architects:
O’Brien Brothers consisted of Walter J., Albert L. and Arthur T. O’Brien, and practiced in San Francisco from 1907 through 1935. In 1925, after the deaths of his brothers, Walter J. O’Brien began working with Wilbur D. Peugh; the firm ultimately became known as “O’Brien Brothers and Wilbur D. Peugh.”
O’Brien Brothers had a diversified practice concentrating on industrial and commercial buildings, but also including many apartment buildings and residences. Auto related buildings were only a small percentage of their output, but it might be accurate to say that they made a specialty of designing this building type. O’Brien Brothers, in fact, probably designed more buildings for the automobile industry than did any other San Francisco architectural firm. Outside of the study area, their outstanding building of this type is the Palace Garage, at 111-127 Stevenson Street (1921). Other fine garage buildings by them include 1419 Pacific Avenue (1913-1914), 525 Jones Street (1922), and 640 O’Farrell Street (1924). Their Pickwick Hotel at 5th and Mission (1925) included a bus depot.
Within the study area, O’Brien Brothers designed two auto showrooms, at 1601 Van Ness (1912-1913; demolished) and 1600-1630 Van Ness (1913; partially altered), plus several public garages. The best of the garages are the Jackson Garage at 1641 Jackson (1914), 1660 Pacific (1921), the Grand Central Garage at 66 Page (1924), and the Kern Garage at 1700 Pine (1925).
These buildings were designed in prevailing styles such as Classical Revival and Tudor Revival that were adapted to automotive needs. Wide expanses of industrial steel sash windows allowed generous amounts of light for automotive work and gave these buildings a functional or industrial feeling that was enlivened by the historical ornament.
Several of O’Brien Brothers’ auto-related buildings have been demolished or heavily altered. These include 401-425 Fourth Street (1912), 1360 Eddy Street (1921), 626-628 Golden Gate Avenue (1925-1926), and 140 Hayes Street (1928). Other works of theirs may exist that have not come to light.
To recapitulate, approximately ten of O’Brien Brothers’ buildings for the automobile industry are known to still stand. Eight have high integrity, one lost its original window sash and doors but is otherwise fairly intact, and one has been altered more severely.
This building was named the Jackson Garage from 1914 through at least 1937 and perhaps to 1944. Raised letters reading “Jackson Garage” survived over two of the vehicle entrances into the 1980s, and one of these signs (over the westernmost entrance) still exists.
This building served as a public garage for 29 of its first 31 years of existence, through 1945. The capacity of this garage was 125 cars according to the 1929 Sanborn map, making it one of the largest garages in the study area. After 1945 this building was almost always used as an auto repair shop, although for two years it reverted to garage use. The proprietors, names, and uses were:
– 1914-1937: Jackson Garage. Proprietors (or manager) under this name included Martin Reichlin (manager, 1914-1916), Albert Slotemaker (1918-1930), Louis A. Bacciocco (1932-1933), George Capellitti (1934), and J. W. Hess and Lee Moore (1935-1936).
– 1938-1940: William A. Werner, proprietor. City directories described his business here as a garage in 1938 and 1940 and an auto repair shop in 1939. The PT&T telephone directory of 1940 called this both Werner’s Garage and the Jackson Garage.
– 1942-1945: Marine View Garage. Proprietors included Elmer A. Tabeau (1943-1944), and M. L. Pinson and F. A. Davis (1945)
– 1946-1948: De Paolo Auto Service (1946) and De Paolo used car sales (1948)
– 1953: Berl Berry’s Ford repair shop. This shop was in support of Berl Berry’s Ford dealership at 1601 Van Ness Avenue.
– 1954-1957: British Motor Co. repair department
– 1958-1959: Cecil Whitebone Garage
– 1960-1980s: Hanni and Co., auto repair. Until his retirement in the late 1970s the proprietor was Ernest A. Hanni, son of Ernest Hanni, one of San Francisco’s early auto repair shop owners (since 1906). This firm performed auto repairs and reconstruction, body and fender work, auto painting, wheel aligning, brake service, lube jobs, etc.
In sum, this building has had 31 years of public garage use fourteen years of auto repair use, for a total of 45 years of these uses combined (through 1964).
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