Welcome to Curbed's ongoing series titled Hidden History, where Curbed Contributor Alex Bevk highlights a Bay Area location with a secret past. Maybe it’s no longer there, maybe it’s been converted into something else, but each spot holds a place in Bay Area history - even if not many people know it. Have a suggestion or know a place with a secret history? The tipline's always open or you can leave a comment after the jump.
1522 Polk Street, between Sacramento and California, now a Walgreens [Photo: Google Maps]
A Curbed reader asked us about the Walgreens on Polk Street between Sacramento and California. The curious building has the name "Maple Hall" across its top, and was once home to one of SF's best dance halls, hosting music pioneers like Jelly Roll Morton and local legend Vernon Alley.
Built in 1906, the building was designed by Frank Van Trees, known more for his fancy Pac Heights mansions like the Koshland Mansion and Chateau Bleu. It was first built as a market, but then in 1908 a second story was added and it became the Maple Hall dance hall. Not only was it a place for music and dancing, early political rallies were held there, including ones in 1911 for future mayor James “Sunny Jim” Rolph.
1522 Polk in 1976 [Photo: SF Planning]
By 1970, the building was vacant, and by 1976 Walgreens moved in. Word on the street is the the ballroom is still there on the second floor totally untouched and boarded up.
· San Francisco Property Information Map - 1522 Polk [SF Planning]
· 1976 San Francisco Planning Survey - 1522 Polk Street [SF Planning]
· VERNON ALLEY, 1915-2004 / Jazz bassist played with great ones / He fought race bias, traveled the world -- made S.F. home [SF Gate]