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In August 1907, a committee of three members of the Board of Supervisors, along with the City Architect, inspected the City Hall and Hall of Justice. It was determined by them that the City Hall structure could be rehabilitated and used for municipal purposes. The Hall of Justice should be demolished and replaced. This report also dispels one of the great rumors about the City Hall building; that it had been shoddily constructed. It was not. It was too large a building on too light a frame, and was constructed on a portion of the filled-in Mission Bay marshlands.


Read and ordered filed.

To the Honorable [Mayor and] the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco - Gentlemen: At a meeting of your Honorable Board held August 5, 1907, your Committee on Public Buildings was requested to consult with an architect and contractor and report to the Board on the condition of the "City Hall" and the "Hall of Justice," and to estimate the cost of rehabilitating the same.

Your committee, after careful deliberation, begs leave to submit the following report.


We find that the portions of the building which suffered the greatest damage from the earthquake are the Larkin Street wing from the south corridor south and from the north corridor north, the dome and its contiguous parts and the wing connecting the dome with the Larkin Street wing. Although the foundation, walls, the majority of the basement and first-story walls and a large portion of the and third stories are in good condition without cracks, still the damage to these portions of the building are so great as to render the restoration of them to their former condition very costly.

In view of the fact that the building, although an admirable piece of work of its time, is badly lighted and badly arranged as compared with our Class A office buildings.

Your committee would recommend the complete removal of the portions mentioned (namely the Larkin street wing, the dome and the wing connecting the two), except that the steel frame of the dome and such structural parts as may be used in its restoration be left standing.

We would recommend in place of the Larkin Street wing that a Class A building four stories and basement, be constructed on the old foundations harmonizing in its exterior architectural treatment with the remaining portions of the building, the height of cornice and order treatment being retained, and a fourth story added in the shape of a retreating story or mansard.

It is estimated that this new wing will cost two millions ($2,000,000) of dollars.

The east wing now occupied by the Mayor's office, the wing extending along McAllister Street and the portion of the building connecting it with the dome, are the parts of the building least damaged by the earthquake. As the first story of this portion can be temporarily rehabilitated at relatively small outlay, it is thought advisable to continue the work already commenced in the east wing and to install offices as far as the Larkin Street wing. This would house practically all of the departments which occupied the City Hall before the fire except the Courts and the Department of Electricity, and would reduce the rents paid by the city in the amount of about $20,000 a year.

The cost of these improvements would be about $95,000 - $100,000 of which would be used in fittings and furniture.

This is a close estimate and requires that the work be done with the utmost speed. It would pay for itself in rents saved in four or five years.

If thought advisable, after the Larkin Street wing is completed, to restore the two upper stories of these wings, the same can be done as needs of the city demand.

As regard the dome, the steel frame work can be painted so as to protect it from the weather and restored at a later period.

In view of the many urgent demands at this time on the public, it is not thought advisable to ask for a bond issue to restore the dome.


photo of the destroyed Hall of Justice

We have examined the Hall of Justice on Kearny, Washington and Merchant streets.

The exterior walls are standing except in the rear, where the earthquake caused the heavy prison tanks to fall through the floors, carrying everything with them and destroying the rear wall.

The steel frame is badly warped by the fire and the floors out of level, due to the bending and buckling of the basement columns.

As the building was cheaply constructed and cannot be restored as a Class A building, we recommend its entire removal and the construction in its place of a Class A structure, at the cost of seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars.

Respectfully submitted,

Committee on Public Buildings

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