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What's the Deal With the Lot On the Corner Of 15th & Dolores?

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Project site at 15th & Dolores [photo: Google maps]

From the Curbed tipline:

I've been puzzling over the development at 15th + Dolores for a while and was wondering if you all have an idea what's going on. On the site, they've moved an entire house that's rather shabby looking over to the side while digging a giant pit out from under it. Since the house looks to be falling apart, I was wondering why in the world they would bother with so much effort to preserve it and keep it on site instead of just demo'ing the entire thing and starting fresh. From the looks of it, the final project will be much larger than the house anyway. Any ideas? Our reader sure picked a doozy, because this site has one hell of a history. Let’s start from the beginning.

The church and parsonage in 1953 [Photo: SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY]

The site once held the Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Ebenezer Church and its parsonage (the building where the pastor lived). Both were designed by August Nordin, a Swedish immigrant who also designed the Swedish American Hall at 2174 Market, the Trinity English Evangelical Lutheran Church at 722 South Van Ness, and a bunch of apartment buildings. Constructed in 1903, the church stood where the empty lot is now, and both buildings survived the 1906 Earthquake. Apparently the reverend and congregation at the time of the earthquake formed a rag-tag citizens firefighter brigade and helped save the church and surrounding block. Nice!

The parsonage house after years of neglect, c2010 [Photo: Domicile Properties]

Over time, the church changed congregations, and in the early 1990’s it was home to the First Southern Baptist Church, aka the Dolores Street Baptist Church. They were well-known in the community as a liberal church who accepted LGBT members. From MrEricSir we learn that "in 1993, the church received an angry letter from a member of the Aryan Brotherhood who disagreed with the church’s views. The next day, the church was burned to the ground by an arsonist." No one was ever able to prove a connection between the two events, but there were obvious suspicions. The site where the church once stood has been empty ever since, and the parsonage was partially damaged in the fire. For a while it operated as a church-sponsored homeless shelter, and then...a whole lot of neighborhood blight. The church’s congregation eventually disbanded in 2009.

In 2003, developers proposed a project that would demolish the parsonage and construct 13 unit building on the whole site. After meeting with the Mission-Dolores Neighborhood Association and the Planning Department, it was determined that the parsonage was historic due to its Earthquake history and architect, so the plans were changed to renovate the parsonage into three two-bedroom units, and construct a 10 unit new building next door where the church used to be. These plans (with a new and improved design) were approved in 2010.

The parsonage house getting lifted for construction in Feb 2012 [Photo: dexnandflexn]

Fast forward to February of this year, and there some pretty amazing shots of the house being lifted off its foundation. This was to begin the shoring and excavation to construct the underground parking that’s part of the project, that will also help stabilize the historic house. Permits to begin construction on the new building were issued in June 2011 (with a three year shelf life) so it looks like work is actually finally getting underway.

[Photos via Andrew Dalton] · Past coverage of 200 Dolores [Curbed SF]
· Conditional Use Application for 200 Dolores [SF Planning]
· Historic Resource Evaluation for 200 Dolores [SF Planning]
· Up, Up, and Away?. Mission Dolores House on the Move! [Domicile Properties]
· Why is there an empty lot at 15th and Dolores? [MrEricSir]

Mission Dolores Basilica

3321 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94114