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
Light floods the interior of the Conservatory, trimmed in salvaged old growth redwood. A custom ringed chandelier is an unforgettable signature element. The solid wood wall in the interior used to lead to the east wing of the Conservatory, demolished in 1978 when a permit was given in error. The Conservatory is officially San Francisco Historical Landmark #78.
Like our paint colors? They are all Benjamin Moore (BM) colors formulated in ICI paints. That’s the paint company specified by RPD. A special thank you to Kristie White for creating this custom paint palette for the Conservatory.
Main body of building exterior: Narragansett green, BM HC-157; Window sash: River Rock–BM 2139-10
Trim: Livingston Gold–BM, HC 16 + Tate Olive, BM, HC 112 Metal Elements: BM Bronzetone 60
Interior of Building is a clear stain on the salvaged old-growth redwood
Merralls not only wanted to gather up rare earthly plant specimens for his private delight; he also wanted bring celestial wonders closer to home. Look up—way-up—over the west fence of the Conservatory property and you can see the “water-tower” base of what one once Merralls’s Observatory. Loyal Friend + Conservatory neighbor Chester Hartsough, who lives in Merralls’s original home, found as a child two glass negatives of the Conservatory and Observatory in his attic. The photo of the path … Read More