Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Boarding House, 960 Bush St., San Francisco, CA

This location has quite a history.

Here's a somewhat chronological list of businesses that have existed here:
The Cecil (apartments)-until 1906
A Church of Unknown Denomination-exact year unknown
Kamokila's Temple Of Art-1933
Club Kamokila (name change)-1933
Royal Hawaiian Theater-1934
Bush Street Music Hall-1943-1946
Balalaika Music Hall-1946-47
Barney Gould's Emperor Norton Theater-
San Francisco Repertory Theater-1949
Fack's ll-1954
The Neve-fall 1960-1961
The Quake-1960's
Million Cellar-1962
Coast Recorders-1963-1969
Troubadour North-1970

Previous to the 1906 earthquake, the address was an apartment building called The Cecil. I can't locate any photos of The Cecil but just down the street on Bush, these photos were taken just after the earthquake 1906.
Down the block from 960 Bush!

Marie Antoinette Apartments on Bush destroyed.

After the earthquake and resulting fire, it was rebuilt as a theater and known by many names over the years. The history of 960 Bush from 1907 through 1932 is murky at this time but
hymns and sacred music filled the sanctuary during its original incarnation as a church. During the first half of the 20th century, the house of worship either closed or moved (few records were kept, so the exact date and reason for its move are uncertain).(7)

Club Kamokila was located at 960 Bush St., in San Francisco. Founded in 1933 by pineapple heiress Alice Kamokila Campbell, it was originally called Kamokila's Temple to Art. The temple was the auditorium, as the building was former church that became a speakeasy. Legal issues arose after the club was raided for unlawful liquor sales, and Campbell closed the club in April of 1934, & moved back to Hawaii. It was then taken over by Kamehameha Corporation, and renamed the Royal Hawaiian. 
Wine List and Drink Menu, 1933 (6)
Police Payoffs, Berkeley Daily Gazette, March 3, 1934

Royal Hawaiian matchbook 1934
The photo's folder says, on the front,
"Your Souvenir Photo from BUSH STREET MUSIC HALL
AT THE BALALAIKA
960 BUSH STREET SAN FRANCISCO
,"
and in handwriting, a name and "August 23, 1946."

1946
Taken from The Ice Follies Of 1947 official publication





Barney Gould Floats a Bad Idea
During the 1950s Aquatic Park was the site of one of the most bitterly fought legal battles the city's history. It all started when a local actor and writer turned theatrical producer named Barney Gould decided that the city needed a fabulous showboat to bring nightclub gambling and minstrel show entertainment to its residents. In 1947 he bought the 741-ton sternwheeler Capitol City but two years later while waiting for financing the boat broke loose from its moorings and sank. Undiscouraged Gould purchased the four-deck Fort Sutter and floated her to Aquatic Park.

Again Gould's financing faltered as investors withdrew from his scheme. For the next seven years the rat-infested eyesore rotted 150 yards off shore. Locals began to call for the dilapidated 'booze ship' to be towed away. As the very public legal battles to remove the boat dragged on, they were compounded by the fact that the beached 1139-ton showboat was no longer able to float. Finally on May 1, 1959 four teenagers snuck aboard in the darkness, poured gasoline on the ship's deck, and set her on fire, destroying her.

By that time the entire city was glad to see the rotten hulk gone. An angry and heartbroken Gould tore into the "ostrich City Hall" for encouraging the "merry murderous arson agents" and for killing his dream. Ironically, the spot where the Fort Sutter was torched is now the San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and today features a number of renovated old ships.

Barry Gould's Emperor Norton Theater's namesake
Just off Highway 280 in Colma's Woodlawn Cemetery is the grave of Joshua Norton, perhaps the most beloved character in San Francisco's history.

In November of 1849, London-born Joshua Norton sailed into San Francisco with $40,000. By speculating in Gold Rush real estate he built a fortune of a quarter million dollars (about five million today). Then in 1854 Norton bought every rice warehouse in the city, hoping to corner the rice market. But the market collapsed, Norton was forced into bankruptcy, had a mental breakdown, and disappeared from the city

A few years later Norton, dressed in an odd mix military uniform complete with a saber, walked into the San Francisco Bulletin's news office and produced a note announcing that he was Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico. In a sign of the crazy times, the paper's editor printed the proclamation on the front page and for the next 21 years San Franciscans went along with the charade. The city's very own imperial monarch was revered and feted throughout San Francisco.

Emperor Norton was so popular that restaurants vied for the honor of feeding him for free. A local printer created Emperor Norton currency that he would pass out for needs like haircuts or new uniforms. When Norton attended the theater, the whole audience would stand and applaud his arrival. Newspapers continued to publish his decrees which he wrote from his 'imperial palace,' a 6 ft. by 10 ft. room at the Eureka Boarding House on Commercial Street.










Photograph of Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Defender of Mexico So much has been written about Emperor Norton, and interest in this ninteenth-century character continues into the twenty-first century. Many of the “decrees” attributed to Norton I were fakes; written in jest by newspaper editors at the time for amusement, or for political purposes. Those “decrees” listed here were, we believe, actually issued by Norton.


September 17, 1859 – Joshua A. Norton, who lost his money in an attempt to corner the rice market, today declared himself Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico.

December 2, 1859 – Norton I dismissed Gov. Wise of Virginia for hanging John Brown and appointed John C. Breckenridge of Kentucky to replace him.

February 1, 1860 – Decree from Norton I ordered representatives of the different states to assemble at Platt’s Music Hall to change laws to ameloriate the evils under which the country was laboring. 
 
July 16, 1860 – Decree from Norton I dissolved the United States of America. 
 
October 1, 1860 – Decree from Norton I barred Congress from meeting in Washington, D.C. 
 
February 5, 1861– Norton I changed the place of his National Convention to Assembly Hall, Post and Kearny, because Platt’s Music Hall had burned. 
 
September 17, 1861 – A new theater, Tucker’s Hall, opened with a performance of “Norton the First,” or "An Emperor for a Day." 
 

October 1863 – Death of Lazarus, Emperor Norton’s dog. 
 
February 14, 1864 – Norton I arrived in Marysville to join the celebration of the opening of the railroad. 
 
November 11, 1865 – Mark Twain wrote an epitaph for Bummer, the long-time companion of Lazarus. 
 
January 21, 1867 – An overzealous Patrol Special Officer, Armand Barbier, arrested His Majesty Norton I for involuntary treatment of a mental disorder and thereby created a major civic uproar. Police Chief Patrick Crowley apologized to His Majesty and ordered him released. Several scathing newspaper editorials followed the arrest. All police officers began to salute His Majesty when he passed them on the street. 
 
July 25, 1869 – Decree from Norton I that San Franciscans advance money to Frederick Marriott for his airship experiments. 
 
August 12, 1869 – Decree from Norton I dissolved and abolished the Democratic and Republican parties because of party strife now existing within our realm.

December 15, 1869 – Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, left San Francisco to seek his yearly tribute from the legislature and lobbyists. He inspected the new capitol during the gala ball celebrating the buildings’ inauguration. 
 
December 16, 1869 – Decree by Norton I demanded that Sacramento clean its muddy streets and place gaslights on streets leading to the capitol. 
 
August 1, 1870 – Norton I was listed by the Census taker with the occupation of “emperor,” living at 624 Commercial St. 
 
September 21, 1870 – Decree from Norton I that the Grand Hotel furnish him rooms under penalty of being banished. 
 
March 23, 1872 – Decree by Norton I that a suspension bridge be built as soon as convenient between Oakland Point and Goat Island, and then on to San Francisco. 
 
September 21, 1872 – Norton I ordered a survey to determine if a bridge or tunnel would be the best possible means to connect Oakland and San Francisco. He also ordered the arrest of the Board of Supervisors for ignoring his decrees. 
 
January 2, 1873 – Decree from Norton I that a worldwide Bible Convention be held in San Francisco on this day. 
 
March 18, 1873 – David Belasco made his stage debut at the Metropolitan Theatre playing Emperor Norton in the play “The Gold Demon.” 
 
January 8, 1880 – Norton I dropped dead on California St. at Grant Ave. He was on his way to a lecture at the Academy of Natural Sciences. 
 
January 9, 1880 – Headline in the Morning Call: “Norton the First, by the grace of God Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, departed this life.” 
 
January 10, 1880 – Norton I was buried today at Masonic Cemetery. The funeral cortege was two miles long. 10,000 people turned out for the funeral. 
 
June 30, 1934 – Emperor Norton I reburied in Woodlawn Cemetery by citizens of San Francisco.

January 7, 1980 – The city marked the 100th anniversary of the death of its only monarch, Emperor Norton, with lunch-hour ceremonies at Market and Montgomery streets.

Emperor Norton chronology from Gladys Hansen’s San Francisco Almanac
©1995 Chronicle Books
Emperor Norton's dog Lazarus. Funeral with Emperor Norton dressed as the Pope reading the prayers. Bummer is the Emperor's other dog, still alive in this picture. Photo courtesy of UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library





Le Roi est Mort
On January 8, 1880, America’s greatest leader was on his way to a lecture at the Academy of Natural Sciences in San Francisco when he dropped dead on Grant Avenue. 

When he died, the Chronicle newspaper featured the headline: 'Le Roi est Mort':
Last night at 8:15, Joshua Norton, universally known, and known almost only as Emperor Norton, died suddenly in this city. The similar death of the first citizen of San Francisco, or the highest municipal officer of the city, would not have caused so general a sensation as that of the harmless old man whose monomania never distorted at least a heart which was wholesome, and hardly affected a mind which had once been of the shrewdest, other than in the method of his sovereignty of the United States and Protectorate of Mexico. He had started from Kearny Street up California Street, with the intention of occupying a seat in the rooms of the Academy of Science during the debate of the Hastings Society. Almost as he reached the East line of Dupont Street on the south pavement of California, he halted for a moment, then staggered forward, halted again and then fell prone on the sidewalk. Wm. Proll, doing business at 537 California Street, was going up California Street immediately behind the Emperor, saw him fall, and hastened to aid him. With the assistance of others who quickly arrived, the Emperor was placed in a sitting posture on the wet pavement and his back supported against the wall of the corner house. His speechlessness and his head fallen forward on his breast indicated to the rapidly gathering crowd, every one of whom knew him and knew him to be highly temperate, that something serious had befallen him and the police officer on the beat hastened for a carriage to convey him to the City Receiving Hospital. Speedily as the hack had been procured, when it arrived at the place Norton was dead.

On the reeking pavement, in the darkness of a moonless night under the dripping rain, and surrounded by a hastily gathered crowd of wondering strangers, Norton I, by the grace of God, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, departed this life. Other sovereigns have died with no more of kindly care--other sovereigns have died as they have lived with all the pomp of earthly majesty, but death having touched them, Norton I rises up the exact peer of the haughtiest King or Kaiser that ever wore a crown. Perhaps he will rise more than the peer of most of them. He had a better claim to kindly consideration than that his lot "forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne and shut the gates of mercy on mankind." Through his harmless proclamations can always be traced an innate gentleness of heat, a desire to effect uses and a courtesy, the possession of which would materially improve the bitterful living princes whose names will naturally suggest themselves.
Norton I lay in state for a few days, his body dressed in a new imperial uniform provided by the city fathers of San Francisco, and respectfully visited by more than 30,000 of his loyal subjects; the cortege was two miles long. Area flags were hung at half mast; businesses were closed. The funeral arrangements were the most elaborate San Francisco had ever seen. On January 11, the day after his funeral, the gods blackened the San Franciscan skies with a total solar eclipse.


The people of San Francisco erected a monument over his grave, with the epitaph:
NORTON  I, EMPEROR OF THE UNITED STATES,
PROTECTOR OF MEXICO, JOSHUA A. NORTON, 1819-1880
In 1934, the remains of Emperor Norton I were transferred, again at the expense of the City of San Francisco, to a gravesite of moderate splendour at Woodlawn Cemetery.
In the religion of Discordianism, Emperor Norton is considered a Saint, Second Class, the highest spiritual honour attainable by an actual (non-fictional) human being. 
Today his grave is still frequently visited and an annual memorial service is held there in his honor.

BONUS FACT:
In 1966, episode 225 of the TV western 'Bonanza' was called 'The Emperor Norton' and featured a competency trial of Emperor Norton. The Cartwrights testified that he was not insane after he called for worker safety in the mines.
While that event never happened, the episode also mentions Norton's edict for a suspension bridge to be built across the San Francisco Bay. He was, in fact, the first to imagine a Bay Bridge, 70 years ahead of its time.

"Such people as Count Basie, Earl (Fatha) Hines, Buddy Greco, Duke Ellington, Don Rickles, and the Hi-Los played 960 Bush during the 1950s, when it was Fack's ll, run by the Andros brothers, who moved their operation from Market Street. Mel Torme was the opening night attraction. The Hi-Lo's first big performance gig was at Fack's ll  (960 Bush Street - bulldozed on July 14, 1980) in 1954, and from there it was on to the worldwide jazz club scene.

The Neve, a jazz club, opened in the fall of 1960, was likely named after California's first Governor, Felipe de Neve....or maybe named after the Neve audio electronics. Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Woody Herman all performed here. It closed after less than a year.
Felipe de Neve (1728-1884) established the Californias' new capital at Monterey, California.[3][6]



1960's The Cellar featured topless waitresses serving lunch in a red velvet 1906 atmosphere.

In 1962, The Quake mingled topless with facsimile earthquakes every hour.

From 1963 -1969 it was also a recording studio called Coast Recorders. The red velvet curtains, stage, and large crystal chandelier from The Neve/Fack’s era were still there when Coast Recorders moved in, serving as reminders of the After extensive renovations, Coast Recorders, a United Affiliate, officially opened its doors in October, 1963, equipped with some of Putnam’s custom equipment, a 3-track tape machine, and remote recording services.
Coast aimed to satisfy the needs of the Bay Area, which, at the time, meant accommodating a mix of advertising agencies and musicians. Putnam sent up Don Geis from L.A. to serve as chief engineer, and Geis busily recorded jingles for commercial clients and random singles, demos, and other projects for a smattering of Bay Area bands. Coast Recorders claimed to offer “state-of-the-art” equipment in its promotional materials, and it did. In 1963, “world class” generally meant 3-track recording, but it wasn’t long before 4-track came along. Coast made the necessary modifications to become a 4-track studio, but that’s right where it stayed until 1969, when competitors in town offered 8- and 16-track options. But Putnam had bigger plans for Coast Recorders, so instead of purchasing a new machine for 960 Bush, he allowed Coast to rent Columbus Recorders’ 3M 8-track machine, which was the most advanced machine in San Francisco when owner Frank Werber purchased the heavy beast in the mid-1960s.
<>Coast Recorders’ original space also offered a large live room, which worked well for orchestral dates and certain jazz recordings but wasn’t as good for the burgeoning rock bands who were unaccustomed to such expansive surroundings. These bands felt uncomfortable in the room, which was roughly the size of a 300-seat club, shaped like a big empty box with a small stage at one end and a chandelier up above.(8)

From Rock Skully's book, Living With The Dead, "Coast Recording, on Bush Street, is a big, boomy place, a former church at which Bing Crosby once recorded. There we do a bunch of demos including Early Morning Rain (with Phil singing lead), Silver Threads & Golden Needles, and a take of Otis On A Shakedown Cruise.”(5)
Historic Coast Recorders remains intact, albeit under new owners and the name Broken Radio. Coast is one of the most oldest and traveled studios in the Bay Area, having had successful runs at locations on Folsom Street, Harrison Street and Mission Street. But before all of that, Coast operated for a brief time at 960 Bush in Nob Hill.(3a)

June 2, 1964
The Troubadour North, opened in 1970, was owned by Doug Weston, who also owned the Hollywood folk and rock institution, The Troubadour. Weston played acts like Elton John and Kris Kristofferson. David Allen worked worked as the manager of The Troubadour North. The Troubadour North folded on November 1, 1970.(9)
Allen assumed the lease in 1972 and opened The Boarding House.

David Allen, the genial New Jersey-born nightclub operator, moved to the city after World War II and opened a target range on the top floor of the California Hall on Polk Street.
In 1949, he performed with a repertory theater at 960 Bush Street! That same year he began working with KPIX. He later performed as "Deputy Dave" on a KPIX children's show for eight years. During the 1960s, he worked for Enrico Banducci at the hungry i when the club gave Barbara Streisand her first nightclub job and nurtured the career of Lenny Bruce.
from Joel Selvin's book, S.F., The Musical History
Allen returned to 960 Bush - this time opening the 300-seat Boarding House. Allen booked many music and comedy stars early in their careers, including Steve Martin, who's first three albums, Let's Get Small, A Wild and Crazy Guy, and Comedy Is Not Pretty were recorded there, in whole or in part. Bette Midler, Robin Williams, Lily Tomlin, the Pointer Sisters and Dolly Parton. In addition to a wide range of rock, country and folk performers the club also put on comedy shows.

August 22-27, 1972, Tim Buckley: plays a six-night engagement at The Boarding House with Alex Dmochowski on bass. 
 
When Tom Waits went on his first tour,  he opened for John Hammond on May 29, 30, 31, June 1, 2, 3, 1973, doing two shows a night at The Boarding House.
 
Maria Muldaur performed here in December 1973. Her bass player got sick, so she called in John Kahn who filled in at the last second. (lostlivedead)

Emmy Lou Harris and the Hot Band, featuring James Burton on guitar and Glen D. Hardin of The Crickets on piano, made their public debut at the club in 1975. Bob Marley and the Wailers rocked the place to the rafters that same year for six nights.
Neil Young did a five night run in 1978.
Not all the acts were a success. Barry Manilow played the club the very week his first hit, "Mandy", was number one on the charts in 1974, but had to cancel most of his late shows because of lack of interest. (2) 
Ray performed here on October 5, 1975
Dinners were served in a downstairs restaurant that never, ever made any money. A loosely affiliated group calling themselves the "Friends of The Boarding House" decided to raise money for Allen to buy a liquor liscense. Steve Martin, Melissa Manchester, Jimmy Buffet, Joan Baez, Martin Mull, Billy Crystal, Louden wainright lll, and a newcomer named Robin Williams, packed the San Francisco Civic Auditorium in May 1978 and pitched $50,000 Allen's way.

When the end came, it was real estate developers who did him in, sending the three hundred and thirty pound Allen and his toy train collection that decorated the downstairs bar out looking for a new location he could ill afford in May, 1980.

The club was forced to move from Bush Street in 1980 and the building was subsequently demolished in July 1980 and replaced by condominiums.(4)


901 Columbus
The Boarding House was relocated at 901 Columbus Avenue in the North Beach district opening on July 25, 1980 with Lily Tomlin.
Robert Hunter performed here in 1981.

It closed it's doors in 1982. It was taken over by Bill Graham Presents, who re-named it Wolfgang's.


Jerry recorded/performed here in
1966 Grateful Dead (Coast Recording)
1967  Grateful Dead (Coast Recording)
“The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)” was tracked after the RCA sessions, at Coast Recorders and required many more takes than the Hollywood material.
12/5/72 Merl Saunders
1/16/73 Merl Saunders
1/23/73 Merl Saunders
1/24/73 Early and late shows Merl Saunders
1/25/73 Early and late shows Merl Saunders
1/26/73 Merl Saunders
4/13/73 Merl Saunders
4/14/73 Merl Saunders
4/15/73 Old And In The Way
4/16/73 Old And In The Way
7/23/73 Old and In The Way
8/5/73 Merl Saunders
10/1/73 Early and late shows Old And In The Way
10/8/73 Old And In The Way
12/12/74 Merl Saunders
7/75 watched Bob Marley perform(10)
3/20/79 Reconstruction
3/21/79 Reconstruction(11)
All the above dates took place at 960 Bush Street.





1.) ^The True Origins of Spanish Colonial Officials and Missionaries". www.sandiegohistory.org.
2.)^ Phelipe de Neve First Governor of the Californias, 1777-1782". www.sbthp.org.
3.)^Stack,Peter, s.f. chronicle, 2001-03-01
3a.) ^http://ifthesehallscouldtalk.wordpress.com/2008/03/07/coast-recorders-v1/
4.) ^Selvin, Joel, San Francisco, the musical history tour: a guide to over 200 of the Bay Area
5.)^ http://deadessays.blogspot.com/2011/10/dead-in-studio-1966.html
6.)^ http://www.arkivatropika.com/cgi-bin/item.cgi?item_id=577
8.)^http://ifthesehallscouldtalk.wordpress.com/2008/03/07/coast-recorders-v1/
9.)^Wasserman, John L. 1970. On the Town: Bush Street Hex Strikes Again. San Francisco Chronicle, November 2, 1970, p. 48.
10.)^Jackson, Blair, 2012-11-21.http://www.deadnetcentral.com/webx?7@763.of5Kas4CiQi.0@.ee7b152/46088
11.)^http://thejerrysite.com/
12.)^Cantu, John, Some of the Unfunny Sides of Comedy, http://www.johncantu.com/backstagepass/unfunny-sides-of-comedy.html

    8 comments:

    1. 960 Bush is a very interesting address. From 1963-69, it was also a recording studio called Coast Recorders.

      http://ifthesehallscouldtalk.wordpress.com/2008/03/07/coast-recorders-v1/

      ReplyDelete
    2. Maria Muldaur played The Boarding House in Dec '73, and her bass player got sick, so she called in John Kahn who filled in at the last second.

      ReplyDelete
    3. The Boarding House moved to 901 Columbus. I saw Robert Hunter there in 1981. When the club folded, it was taken over by Bill Graham Presents, who re-named it Wolfgang's. Garcia and Kahn played there on August 28, 1984, at the Rodney Albin Memorial, but we await that post for that address.

      ReplyDelete
    4. Corry, where did you track down the John Kahn reference for the late December '73 Boarding House gigs by Maria? Staska and Mangrum did a little write-up in the January 4, 1974 Hayward Daily Review, but I didn't see mention of the bass player.

      I have been entering Boarding House shows in my big prosopographical spreadsheet, by the way.

      Thanks for the great venue history as always, JBP!

      ReplyDelete
    5. Thank you Corry for that! http://ifthesehallscouldtalk.wordpress.com/2008/03/07/coast-recorders-v1/

      Not sure if you get am email everytime I add something new to a posted venue page. If yes, how do I prevent that? I'm simply adding info from yours and others comments, and new found info. I want to put all this gathered info into book form. Sorry you have to reread.

      ReplyDelete
    6. Thanks for the info!

      A few housekeeping things: 1) the tag for this is "Venues B", while others are tagged "Venues-B". I'd love to have them all under a uniform format so I can look your posts up more easily! 2) can I make a friendly plea for you to cite sources? It's really just not OK to copy, paste and post. Other authors, photographers, and everyone else deserves credit for their work, and credit is given with a citation (and link, where appropriate). As someone who is doing amazing work creating knowledge for others, I am sure you'll appreciate the attributions that you justly deserve!

      OK, now onto 960 Bush Street. You have it as the Troubadour (North) in 1970 and Boarding House in 1972. I have it as follows:

      First show as Troubadour: August 4, 1970 (Kris Kristofferson/Doug Kershaw).

      listing: John L. Wasserman, "Something Else," San Francisco Chronicle, August 3, 1970, p. 42.

      review: Wasserman, John L. 1970. The Troubadour—Virtues Like the I. San Francisco Chronicle, August 7, 1970, p. 41.

      I am not as sure about the precise date it became Boarding House. The first listings I found in the Hayward Daily Review using that name are for April 13-15 and 17, 1971 (Terry Dolan). The venue is called "Boarding House (formerly Troubadour)". I don't know the details of the lease, but that's the earliest reference I have under that name.

      listing: Staska, Kathie, and George Mangrum. 1971. Rock Talk: Kate Taylor shows class in Berkeley performance. Hayward Daily Review, April 15, 1971, 39.

      ReplyDelete
    7. I can also add that the Troubadour folded on November 1, 1970.

      Source: Wasserman, John L. 1970. On the Town: Bush Street Hex Strikes Again. San Francisco Chronicle, November 2, 1970, p. 48.

      ReplyDelete
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