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SF Gay Men’s Chorus buys Valencia Street’s Baha’i Center

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Crooners plan to convert Art Deco masterpiece into a national center for LGBTQ arts

Photos courtesy of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus

One of San Francisco’s most underrated structures, the Art Deco building at 170 Valencia, was recently bought by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, who intend to turn the four-story building into a center for LGBTQ arts.

Designed by architect Harold Stoner in 1930 for fraternal society the Independent Order of Foresters, the roughly 23,000-square-foot building was last owned by the Baha’i Faith who used the place as a house of worship since 1976.

Once described by urban design critic John King as “an overscale Art Deco showcase of scallops and scrolls and floral patterns,” the building is a registered historic resource.

The Mission District building sold for a reported $9.6 million, backed by a $5 million donation from original chorus member Terrence Chan, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The new center will host a media center, provide a creative space for LGBTQ artists, serve as a meeting location for community leaders, host trainings and internship programs, and more.

“For 40 years the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus has lacked a permanent home—until now,” notes a missive on the SFGMC website. “The building will house rehearsal and office space, conference rooms, and community engagement spaces. Given that SFGMC is deeply rooted in community, it is a space that can bring the chorus and community together for events such as master classes, lectures, symposia, and sing-ins for the community to join the chorus.”

This is also a minor coup for the San Francisco queer community who in recent years have seen LGBTQ spaces sequestered more and more into the Castro neighborhood.