The Grand Re-Opening Day (December 5, 2009) was more wonderful that the Friends dared dream. Over 400 people showed up. We made that morning’s San Francisco Chronicle with a photo on the front page, the sun shone, bagpipes played, the mayor and dignitaries came, family and friends were there, the ribbon was cut, tours were given, the high-tea spread was bountiful, kids made souvenir buttons, and the community came together.
The Friends of Sunnyside Conservatory began with a few neighborhood residents, each discovering the Conservatory and having that Alice-in-Wonderland feeling of entering another world.
In 1999, with a notice in the Sunnyside Neighborhood Association newsletter, Arnold Levine officially organized the group as the Friends. He and Stacy Garfinkel have served as Friends’ Co-Chairs since the group’s founding. Our advocacy + stewardship success could never have happened without a dedicated steering committee: Chester Harstough, Andrea O’Leary, Sally Ross, pro-bono landscape architect … Read More
The story of the restoration interweaves the Friends’ decade of advocacy, pilot programming, and inventive, can-do spirit with the Merralls’s original vision.
Friends had to build a coalition of many constituencies (including immediate neighbors, area residents, city employees, elected officials, the design team) and navigate the inevitable trying moments, delays, and bureaucracy that come along with a large public works project.
We had to educate ourselves about the design process–from the drafting of the conceptual design (drawn by Vera Gates), … Read More
William Augustus Merralls, a British engineer and inventor, built this quirky Victorian oasis next to his home on an old dairy farm, in the new Sunnyside District in 1898. A serial entrepreneur, Merralls made his money in the invention and sale of power mining equipment; he also had shipping interests, worked on the cooling systems of subway cars, and shopped proposals for flying engines. If he was around today, he’d probably be into cloud computing, high speed rail, and … Read More
It was a long haul, but we hosted a lot of wonderful programs of art + music over the ten years leading up to the backhoes arriving to begin construction. We got folks to come out to the Conservatory and imagine the potential of what might be.
The Friends’ work at Conservatory over the last 10 years flipped, in productive ways, the 1% for art model—asking what would happen if not only the last, but the first, 1-2%, even 10% … Read More