clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

From Moderne to Vintage, the Story Behind Goodwill's SoMa HQ

New, 2 comments

Welcome to Curbed's ongoing series Hidden Histories, where we highlight 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.

San Francisco is not lacking in thrift store options, but the old stand-by with a higher purpose has always been Goodwill Industries. The Goodwill mothership sits on Mission between 11th and Van Ness, but hasn't always been full of dated duds and chipped china. From car sales to soda manufacturing to thrifting (and maybe soon condo living), the building at 1500 Mission has led a kaleidoscope of lives.

1500 Mission was actually born in the Classical Revival style, built in 1925 by Henry Gutterson for the White Motor Company. Gutterson was pretty well known in San Francisco, primarily designing in Beaux-Arts and Arts & Crafts styles with the occasional dabble into wilder residential designs in places like St. Francis Wood. White Motors (PDF) was a prolific auto manufacturer based in SF, but by 1924 stopped making cars to focus on trucks and buses. The company chose Mission Street for their location since SoMa at that time was more industrial. Gutterson gave them a Classical Revival design with a big clock tower, making the building look very important indeed. Sometime around 1940 White Motors relocated to 1195 Harrison Street and sold the building to the Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

In 1941, after purchasing this building, Coca-Cola completely remodeled it as a bottling plant in a flashy Moderne style. Coke operated out of the plant well into the 1980s. Goodwill took over the building in the early 1990s and added the two-story store at Mission and Van Ness in 1995. When the building was surveyed back in 2010, it was determined to be historic as a good example of the Streamline Moderne style. Compared with photos of the Coke plant, it looks pretty much the same.

Late last year there were rumblings that Goodwill was looking to unload the property in early 2014 in favor of something with a larger capacity for "growth in job training and placement services, donations, and other business lines." The 2.3-acre site was expected to bring in $50M-$60M since it's zoned for up to a 320-foot high-rise and 600 residential units. Rumor has it the sale is under contract to mega-developer Related California, and a Preliminary Project Assessment was filed in August of this year for a project with two towers (350 feet and 194 feet in height) with 550 residential units and, in one tower, 462,800 square feet of office space to be occupied by the city. No renderings floating around yet, but we'll keep you posted.

· Cocoa-Cola bottling works [SF Planning]
· Henry H. Gutterson [Western Neighborhoods Project]
· Building the White Motor Company [Architect & Engineer via Internet Archive]
· Mid-Market Goodwill HQ Sold to Major Housing Developer [Curbed SF]