Lighthouse Loft History


The site of the Lighthouse building is in a former tidal marshland which extended from the Mission Bay - now China Basin- north to about Market Street. In the mid-1800’s the area was reclaimed by dumping dune sand over marshland vegetation and bay mud deposits. After the 1906 earthquake, additional fill containing rubble and building debris was placed over the dune sand fill.

The building was constructed in 1924 specifically for the San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind Association, largely with funds donated by a wealthy Oakland family. Not long after completion, recurrent settling forced the removal of the first floor slab and installation of a 2' thick mat foundation in a short basement. A fourth floor was later proposed but never undertaken. The exterior ornamentation is simple with the exception of a gothic inspired terra cotta entrance portal on Howard Street. The building is designated a category III contributory landmark structure

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The first floor area currently occupied by units 101, 102 and 104 were administrative offices and the general area of unit 103 was a lounge containing a fireplace. The garage and loading areas were lit by skylights which were filled to create the patios for units 205 and 206. The second and third floors were largely left open for machinery. Stairs occupied the corners of units 104/209/309 and 205/305. Unit 205 was also a locker and shower room. The first bay of units 204 and 304 housed a freight elevator and unit 306 was the kitchen and cafeteria. The roof had a tall elevator penthouse and a small wooden structure which were removed to create the present deck.

The Lighthouse organization provided programs and services for the blind. Historically, that included the manufacture of small items for contracted sale. Light manufacturing uses peaked during the early 1960's, then gave way to increasing administrative functions and non-industrial programs. Attempts to renovate the structure in 1982 and 1989 were abandoned and the organization merged with the Rose Resnick Foundation and relocated. The building was vacant from 1982 to 1996 when rehabilitation began for it’s present use as 22 live/work loft condominiums.