It’s been a while since there was no work being done on the Bayview Opera House. How long? When the earliest update was first proposed, George W. Bush was still president, Barry Bonds still played for the Giants, and 76 million people were on MySpace.
This began as a routine update to the famous circa 1888 building, initially financed by $197,000 grant in 2007. First, the floors (long obscured by linoleum) had to be rescued. Then water damage and dry rot was found creeping into the walls. As more and more was done, more problems surfaced. The whole thing eventually snowballed into a $5.3 million overhaul that broke ground in 2014.
Although there is still a bit to be done before the grand reopening in October, the curtain has dropped on the project to the extent that a ribbon cutting and preview are scheduled for July 20.
The 300-seat building, a registered landmark and the city‘s oldest theater, dates back to a time when the Bayview was still called Butchertown or, at times, South San Francisco. (Not to be confused with the present South San Francisco, although their proximity is obviously not a coincidence).
San Francisco architect Henry Geilfuss, the man most responsible for establishing the Victorian style in the city, poured all of his Italianate and Gothic influences into it to create a landmark in a previously sleepy and overlooked neighborhood. The neighboring Masonic Hall was demolished in the '70s, but the Opera House endured as a ward of the San Francisco Arts Commission.
The renovation also included a new lobby and porch, and brought the building up to ADA compliance. The constant discovery of new problems, and the strain of securing new funds, kept the old place up on blocks for years.
But all good things come to those who wait, and supporters will finally have a chance to take a look inside from 5-7 p.m. on July 20.
- Bayview Opera House Ribbon Cutting [SF Arts Commission]
- South SF Opera House [Landmark Registry]
- New Look for Bayview Opera House [Bayview Footprints]
- Repairs Outnumber Funds for Opera House [Examiner]
- Opera House Renovation Needs More Money [Chronicle]
- $5.3 Million Revamp Underway at Bayview Opera House [Curbed SF]