Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Lisner Auditorium, George Washington University, 730 21st and H Street NW, Washington, DC

This auditorium mimics the look of a giant cube.

It is named for Abram Lisner, a trustee of the University who donated $750,000 for its construction. The German-born Lisner had owned Washington's Palais Royale department store. The firm began as a dry goods store specializing in "fancy" items, such as fans, gloves, jewelry, and handkerchiefs. It was founded by Abram Lisner (1855-1938), a short, wiry German immigrant who came to this country with his family at the age of 13. Plagued by epilepsy, Lisner was tutored privately as a child in New York and then went to work in his brother George's dry goods store on Broadway. It was with George's help that Abram expanded the business to Washington, opening up the Palais Royal and then buying out his brother's share in it two years later.
Under Lisner's leadership the store proved very profitable. Lisner emphasized low prices and operated a cash-only business when most other dry goods stores offered credit. The reputation for quality merchandise at a low price built sales steadily, although Lisner was not immune to missteps.
One dramatic incident occurred in March 1880 when Lisner accused his head clerk, Annie M. Nixon, of stealing a pair of kid gloves. Lisner seems to have confronted Miss Nixon in front of customers and had her arrested. Not a good idea, as it turned out. The Washington Post, not yet by any means a world-class newspaper, reported that the police officer at the local precinct station declared the whole affair a "put-up job" and let Nixon go with a "small collateral" for her appearance in police court the next day.
The Post also said it had interviewed Lisner, who "told a voluminous story with evident delight" about how he had suspected Nixon of stealing items from the shop and had instructed another employee, Issac Teeney, to watch her. Teeney had subsequently found the purloined gloves in Nixon's coat pocket. The problem, however, was that Nixon was "a pretty brunette" and Teeney an African-American porter.
The police court quickly absolved Nixon the next day. Teeney was presumed to be lyingheck, he probably stole the gloves himself. As soon as Judge Snell pronounced his verdict there was "prolonged applause, which the bailiffs could not control, and the young lady was immediately the recipient of congratulations." Lisner, in contrast, was "already unfavorably regarded by the general public," according to the Post, and was now reviled (at least for the moment) for making such a false accusation about the pretty brunette.
The next day the Post ran a piece entitled "Lisner's Abject Terror," in which it described how Lisner had summoned the police to his store after having his life threatened by a man who had come in off the street. Lisner asked the officer who arrived to stay and protect him, but the policemen insisted he had to keep to his beat. "'But,' said Lisner, 'what if I am killed?' 'Well,' coolly retorted the officer, 'then I will find your body.'" Such was the life of a Jewish shopkeeper in 1880 Washington.
That incident was probably soon forgotten, but Lisner continued to face difficulties due to his poor health. In 1884 he took a trip to the spas at Carlsbad in what is now the Czech Republic, but he did not think it did any good. He returned to New York City deeply discouraged, and his brother George induced him to stay there awhile.
One afternoon, Abram borrowed $10 from his sister-in-law and went out to a buy some ice cream for her children. He also bought a handgun. The New York Times reported that, after regaling the children with the ice cream, he went upstairs and shot himself twice in the back of the head. Fortunately, the attempt was not successful; Lisner recovered and soon returned to Washington.

By the time of its third expansion in 1914, over 600 employees, mostly clerks, worked there. However, by 1924, Lisner was finally ready to retire from the mercantile business. That year he sold his business to the S.S. Kresge Department Stores Corporation for approximately $5 million.(2)
It was an unusual coincidence which brought his death on the same day and at the same hour as Mrs. Lisner's the year before. Mrs. Lisner died March 26, 1937, and Mr. Lisner March 26, 1938. Photo is from 1909.

Lisner Auditorium was designed by Faulkner and Kingsbury and built by Charles H. Tompkins Company. Funding for the project was also provided by the George Washington Memorial Association and the Dimock Estate. Work commenced on the Auditorium in 1941; it was completed in 1943. It served as the focus of theatrical life in Washington prior to the opening of the Kennedy Center.
It is still used for performances today, and is the home of several companies, including Washington Concert Opera.

On October 9, 1946 the theater declined entry to African-Americans, including the Dean of the Howard University Medical School. A leaflet and boycotting campaign ensued. The National Symphony Orchestra canceled performances.[3]
In 1947, the Board of Trustees changed policy to admit African-Americans to sponsored events, but did not completely desegregate until 1954.

The auditorium contains a mural by Augustus Vincent Tack.

The facility could then seat 1,550, and it contained ultra-light modern, light and sound systems as well as a huge 59-foot stage, said to be the largest south of New York City. 

Composed of marble, the spare, even extreme, design removes Lisner Auditorium from the realm of the common stripped classicism of the period. While its inspiration is classical, the architects abstracted the design to its empirical geometric element, the cube. The architects repeated the rectilinear lines in the portico where the post and lintel system and monumental scale only suggest its classical roots. The polished metal vent to the left of the entrance and the paneled door on the H Street facade provide the only breaks in the taut surface. This building stands as a bold geometric expression and the University's outstanding contribution to modern architecture. (1)
At one critical point, Mr. Lisner supplied the funds to pay the salaries of members of the faculty who otherwise would have gone unpaid. Dean William Allen Wilbur, Professor Emeritus of English at the University, recalls that he was one of those who would not have received his salary as usual had it not been for Mr. Lisner's timely response to the situation. "Years later during his last illness Mr. Lisner came to my office," Dean Wilbur said, "and I told him of my great gratitude for this service. With tears in his eyes, he said, 'Do you know that?' and I replied, 'Indeed I do, and I shall never forget it.'"(4)

The auditorium was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

Jerry performed here on
4/3/76 early and late show JGB
2/12/80 early and late show JGB

1.)^Special Collections Research Center, Gelman Library, The George Washington University
2.)^DeFerrari, John,  Lost Washington: The old Palais Royal department store, 2010-08-02
3.)^"Lisner Auditorium segregation controversy, 1946". The GW and Foggy Bottom Historical Encyclopedia.
4.)^Special Collections Research Center, George Washington University Libraries

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Riverboat President, Spanish Wharf, New Orleans, LA

Capacity 3100
The hull of the sidewheeler President was originally built in 1924 for the steamer Cincinnati by the Midland Barge Co., Midland, PA. She was originally an overnight packet boat that carried passengers and freight from Cincinnati, Ohio to Louisville, Kentucky. Her first trip was to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.
In 1929, she was acquired by the Streckfus Steamers Company of St. Louis, MO, which briefly continued her use as a packet boat, but then laid her up until 1932. Streckfus moved her to her new homeport of St. Louis, Missouri and over the next two years, the ship was converted to become the largest excursion boat in America. The entire superstructure was rebuilt in steel, and a two-deck-high ballroom was added, as well as a bandstand.
The ship came out on July 4, 1934, as an excursion boat. She was 295.5 feet long and 84 feet wide and had space for 3,100 passengers. Her six boilers were oil burned. It was also at this time that she received her new name, President.
Newly converted and newly named, she opened for business in 1934 and Streckfus advertised her as "the New 5 Deck Luxury Super Steamer, Biggest and Finest On The Upper Mississippi". She continued tramping (having no fixed schedule or published ports of call)[1] until 1941.

In 1940, she was displaced from her position as flagship of the Streckfus line by the S.S. Admiral.
In 1944 her guards were glass-enclosed after the boat settled down as a full-time excursion boat in 1944.
Loyola used to sponsor an annual dance aboard the President. At the Fall 1972 dance, two streakers ran across the dance floor carrying strategically placed mops. Later in the evening, I noticed tables and chairs being tossed out the windows and into the river. I believe that was the last time Loyola held a dance aboard the President.(10)

In 1978 her side-wheels were removed. She got three diesel powered propellers, one on each side and one at the stern.

In 1981 she was sold to the New Orleans Steamboat Co. which is also running the Natchez.

In 1985 she went to St. Louis, MO, and ran there as an excursion boat until 1990.
By the Spring of 1988 the President moved upriver to St. Louis.

May 24, 1988, was a sad day when the S.S. President, a favorite for Jazz Fest concerts, left New Orleans for good and headed for St. Louis, Mo.(9)

In 1990, President sailed her last dinner and dancing cruise before undergoing a ten million dollar renovation and conversion into a floating casino. She was purchased by what is now known as Isle of Capri Casinos.

On the port mezzanine there were palm trees and cartoon monkeys embossed on the wall under something like 50 coats of paint. The boat would list when the act was over and the crowd would shift toward the dockside exits?
We served Dixie and no other beer. The B-52 cocktail was popular.(4)
The President's dance floor

The President's dance floor

John Conally bought her and remodeled the President into a casino which opened in April 1991. She was used at Davenport during her last years. Her last cruise was on September 29th, 2000.

She was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1989, though these designations were revoked in 2011.[2] Her home ports have been Cincinnati, Ohio, New Orleans, Louisiana, Vicksburg, Mississippi, St. Louis, Missouri and Davenport, Iowa.

President retired from service in 1999 and was reported, in 2004, to be located on the Yazoo River in Mississippi. At that time, she was for sale by Isle of Capri Casinos.[11] She was also located for a time at Treasure Island in Lake McKellar at Memphis, Tennessee.
In January 2009 President was located in Alton, Illinois, where she was first listed by the National Park Service November 2007. She was then disassembled and moved in pieces to St. Elmo, Illinois, near Effingham.[12][13][14] Although local businesspeople hope to re-assemble her as a non-floating tourist attraction and hotel,[3][15] financing has yet to be secured while the vessel rusts as a heap of scrap metal.[16]

Here's Gary Frommenlt's complete concert list for the Riverboat President:

A private party for the Rolling Stones was held on Thursday, December 3, 1981, aboard the riverboat President in New Orleans, prior to a Stones concert in the Superdome. Before Dianna Chenevert founded Omni Attractions, she was a licensed talent agent through the Musicians Union. Chenevert booked musicians for the Stones' private party and later included them on the “Southern Stars” poster. A picture of the Dirty Dozen Brass band performing at the Stones' party was also used for Omni’s agency brochure.
Band members aboard were: Mick Jagger (with Jerry Hall), Keith Richards, guitarist Ron Wood, bassist Bill Wyman, and keyboardist Ian Stewart. There were approximately 500 guests. Writer Betty Guillaud mentioned the following guests in attendance:[7] Jimmy Coleman Jr. (Queen Elizabeth’s royal representative in N.O.), Sybil Calhoun, Mary Lou (Mrs. John) Ochsner with daughter Joby; Gordon Maginnis, Marguerite Littman (friend of Bianca Jagger) and her brother Speed Lamkin; Prince Rupert Lowenstein; artist-restaurateur Marti Shambra; Patrick Sargent, Debbie Thibodaux; Taft Blake, Bill Dow (President of the New Orleans Steamship Co., which recently purchased the riverboat President), Stephen Stills (of Crosby, Stills & Nash), Dr. Rise Ochsner, Paula and Barry Mendelson, Bill Johnston, Bill Fagaly, Dawn Dedeaux, Paul Varisco, Sandra Doss, Robert Alford, Rupert Surcouf (Al Hurt’s nephew who traveled with the Stones for a couple of years as previous manager of the The Meters and Neville Brothers), Susan Sierra, Leon Steele, Jason Berry with his bride and brother Jack, Nancy Kittary, Cherel Katz, Dr. Bill Coleman, Jim Pertuit and son Jimbo, Pres Kabacoff, Arthur Pulitzer, Lori Taylor, Michael Botnick, Russell Rocke, and Dianna Chenevert with her Beaumont buddy Debra Jo Fondren, Hugh Heffner’s Playmate of the Year, circa ’78.
Included on stage for the evening’s entertainment were: Tuts Washington, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, the Meters, Oliver “Who Shot the La La” Morgan, Deacon John, and the Neville Brothers. Chef Paul Prudhomme, proprietor of K-Paul’s Restaurant supplied an array of Louisiana culinary delights including platters of crawfish pie, Cajun popcorn (fried crawfish), hushpuppies, fried catfish, blackened red fish, salad, red beans and rice, gumbo, crabmeat tortillas, pralines and pies.
The party was hosted by Atlantic Records, who had recently released the Stones' album Tattoo You, and Bill Graham. According to Bunny Matthews, the Stones' private party cost $85,000.[8] Fats Domino had recently returned from a European tour and didn’t perform or attend because of his ailing vocal cords.

This review is a bit lacking in the vocabulary department but it's a great review!
"There were MANY great shows.... HOW-ever ... The absolute wildest night on the ole' MISS-AH-SIP.. . The most craz... Ah ... most extremely dangerous night on the ole' RIVER BOAT EL PRESIDENT was the night Johnny, Dee Dee , Marky and Joey RAMONE brought their NuYork wall of sound to Nu Wallins aboard the riverboat PRESIDENT.
I was under the impression(common sense) the boat would stay moored at the dock, because once the band started, oh boy watch out...! The trouble/ good time that we were preparing ourselves for just might capsize this tub (What I wuz thinking to myself at the time) HELL When I walked in and heard the CRAMPS being played as warm up music coming over the PA system I knew then it was geauxing to be a wild one. Letmetellya ... What followed can best be described as ..uh .. as the insanity of ah... uh.. Riotous slug fest of fly-n bodies ,beer bottles & blood with a little music mixed in. Of course boys will be boys and uh stage dive contest ensued (From the second story balcony ) onto crowed ballroom floor wipe-n out 25-35 people in a single stage dive, w/ local semi famous Dit Townfriendingly"(of the US MARINES) Leading the charge !..... Quickly this gang of merrymakers TOTALLY OUT of CONTROL ... ah .. BATTLE-ROY-EL of mayhem disguised as dancing ..ah.. A commotion in motion .. that was routinely guaranteed to have the MFNOPD(COPS) crashing the party and stopping the show. But ..! But ...!. To my amazement and dread, we were now headed full steam up river ... We were somehow Rolling on the river, without a cop in sight. When we finally took a break to lick our wounds and checked to see if I still had all my teeth... We found that (Fried chicken and corn on the cob) the kitchen had prepared a incredible spread for on board guess\hoodlums .. For desert ..We drank a cold one and smoked a fat one.. up on top of the boat.. it was ah beautiful thing ....
I was 19 years ole I had my whole life in front of me.. ONCE in a LIFE TIME... Here is to, The Sunny Slopes of Long Ago ........(6)

Jerry performed here on
11/3/82 Jerry Garcia Band
Promoter Ed White
Jerry stayed at the Marie Antoinette Hotel, New Orleans, LA.

1,)^"National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
2.)^"PRESIDENT (Steamboat)". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service.
3.)^Leisa Zigman (July 21, 2009). "Historic St. Louis riverboat now rusted scrap". KSDK
4.)^MacCash, Doug, Remembering the Riverboat President music club, 2009-11-15, The Times-Picayune
5.)^Frommelt, Gary, SS President concert list
6.)^tejastiger61, Remembering the Riverboat President music club, 2011-07-14,
7.)^Times Picayune Guillaud, Betty. "Lagniappe" article: "Localites roll aboard riverboat in wake of Stones" December 7, 1981, Section 5, Page 3
8.)^Times-Picayune Matthews, Bunny. "Rolling Stones and fortunate fans gather at the river", December 5, 1981. Section 5, Page 6
9.)^Ponchatrain, Blake, Where did the riverboat President that was docked on the Spanish Wharf ended up?, 2003-10-20,
10.)^bluealligator, 2009-11-16,
11.)^Blake Pontchartrain (26 October 2004). "Gambit Weekly". BestofNewOrleans. Archived from the original
12.)^Bill Wundram (Sunday, April 26, 2009). "Putting the President back together again". The Quad-City Times.
13.)^Monster Moves: President River Boat
14.)^"the Pride of the Mississippi". Monster Moves. National Geographic Channel
15.)^Tony Reid (13 April 2009). "A $10 million Project Will See the President, a Former Mississippi River Cruise Ship, Morphed into a Floating Hotel and Conference Center on a Lake in St Elmo, Illinois". Herald & Review, Decatur, Ill. McClatchy-Tribune Regional News.
16.)^Leisa Zigman (June 2009). "Historic St. Louis riverboat now rusted scrap". KSDK

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pierre's, 546 Broadway at Columbus, San Francisco, CA


In 1960, Dick Boyd became the owner of Pierre's.(4)
"At Pierre’s there were a few surprising gay experiences. Our Schlitz beer salesman said he belonged to the Mattachine Society (a gay political organization formed in the 1930’s lobbying for gay rights). My partner and I never had a clue what it was, and the guy was anything but swishy. Dave Kopay was one of the 49ers that came in on Sundays after 49er games then played at Kezar Stadium. His nickname in training camp was “Animal.” He was the first professional football player to “come out” publicly, a very courageous act at the time. Bill Paul, who was our bouncer for two years (1962 to 1964) and left to train for the US Judo team, becoming captain of the 1964 Olympic team in Tokyo, came out a few years later. He became president of the Stonewall Gay Democratic Club. He died in 1988 from a brain tumor associated with the HIV virus."(4)

 In 1960-61 Pierre's was a Latin dance hall.
"When we opened Pierre's, it was a matter of getting pupus that broke da mout," recalls Boyd. "And we wanted something different. So we set up little hibachis everywhere and bought the absolute best meat we could find and cooked it right on the spot. Sounds good, right? Didn't work."
They also tried stunts like snail races, with the snails cooked up afterward as escargot. The bottom line, it turned out, was simple: "Good entertainment and good food geared for families, at an affordable price. That simple. A nice place. A place where patrons don't get killed."
Boyd and his crew aimed for "gals from the San Francisco financial district, and wound up as a hangout for '49ers football players. We were a sports bar before anyone had even thought of putting a TV in a bar."
even at its height, Pierre's only had six brands of beer by the bottle. ("I'm a bottle baby, no cans in my restaurants!") And that's because it isn't the booze, it's the company that makes a tavern work.

Good bartenders and friendly waitresses are invaluable. Pierre's first waitress was Margo St. James, who later became a fiery mouthpiece for Bay Area sex workers, but at the time was a memorable waitress who helped design the decor.
Even then, the accent was on salty.
"That's the key. Pretzels. Nuts. We had big popcorn popper that patrons could just go up to and refill their bowls. We were the only guys to try hibachis, but they didn't work. Most of the well-known San Francisco bars had kitchens but didn't use them. The thing was entertainment, Gay '90s groups, singalongs, banjo bands ..."(4)
Pierre's closed in 1965.
   "At some point Pierre's must have been bought by a group of North Beach club owners that ultimately turned the strip of Broadway from Kearny to Columbus into totally nude strip clubs. At about the same time (1969-70) the Hungry-i (originally opened by Eric Nord, who sold it to Enrico Banducci in 1951) began losing money with the exit of Beat Generation performers and audiences. Banducci sold the Hungry-i name and logo to the strip club group, and a neon sign proclaiming "the Hungry i" was hung over the Pierre's leaded stained glass window. It was around 1971 when, as a philosophy student at UC Berkeley, a group of friends and I went over to North Beach to an Italian restaurant. None of us had money and we could all use jobs, so when we walked by Big Al's at Broadway and Columbus I asked the barker what the job was like. Somehow that led me across the street to the Hungry-i where I met the owner-partner of that club, (a very nice, almost grandfatherly guy named Jerry Friedman). I started as a barker/doorman for the Hungry-i the next week. But the real end of the story is that, at the same time I was developing a hobby of furniture refinishing. One night while standing beneath the newer Hungry-i neon I looked up to see the Pierre's leaded stained glass window. They had painted over it to block the neon from shining through the Pierre's glass and brightening the inside of the club any more than necessary. I told Jerry I could replace the stained glass with a solid piece of wood to do an even better job of blocking the light, plus I would pay him $50 to let me take the old Pierre's sign away. A week or so later I had the original Pierre's leaded stained glass overhead window sign, beautifully cleaned and refinished, hanging in the window of my home office in Berkeley. Since then (@ 1971) I've lived in Nashville and Atlanta, and Pierre's has come with me the whole way - my care and respect for the original Pierre's has lasted nearly 50 years - and Pierre's is still here, still clean and refinished, hanging in the window of my home office in Atlanta." [4]
Jerry performed here in 

11/1965 Warlocks
At some point, The Warlocks made Phil Lesh's former roommate, Hank Harrison, into their manager. Harrison did very little for the group in his brief tenure. One gig he did get them was playing at a topless joint on North Beach called Pierre's. Pierre's, on the corner of Broadway in Columbus, the same corner as City Lights Bookstore, had been a popular Latin Jazz nightspot in the early 1960's. As topless joints took over Broadway, Pierre's went topless as well, but the club was fading.
Topless dancing in the 1960's was considerably tamer than strip clubs today. The Warlocks had at least intermittently backed topless dancers at The In Room. Club owners didn't care what weirdness a band played as long as they kept the beat going, so topless clubs were a chance for fledgling bands to work on their chops.
The Warlocks played a brief and unsuccessful stint at Pierre's in early November of 1965. A friend of the band wandered in and found them playing to a nearly empty house. The Warlocks had made it to San Francisco, but they were in a club that was past its prime, where music wasn't even the main attraction.(1)

"I saw them at Pierre's on Broadway in San Francisco. They played behind a strip teaser. It was the funniest show I ever saw. Here were my old friends playing rock and roll music and "In The Midnight Hour". Pigpen was playing behind this girl with these tassels. this was an old fashioned type stripteaser. It was before totally nude dancing. I was sitting behind three sailors and they were going, "Take it off!" This girl was down to these little things and there were these air holes in the floor. That was real entertaining. The tassels would go up whenever someone pressed a button. Air would shoot up, the tassels would flap, and you'd see the boobies. Can you imagine the Grateful Dead playing behind a stripper? But after a while, the sailor's eyes turned away from the girl and began watching Garcia and the band. The girl was boring. She was just dancing. Her tits were flopping. So what?"(1)(3)

1.)^Arnold, Corry, Lost Live Dead, North To San Francisco
2.)^Albin, Peter, Greenfield, Robert, Dark Star, pg. 68,,+garcia&source=bl&ots=B_08shUCVN&sig=DfBvQvl7O1rhauX1o01eSo7qwMM&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Fq46UKX1FOiGjAKptoGwCw&ved=0CFgQ6AEwBw#v=onepage&q=chateau%2C%20garcia&f=false
3.)^Jackson, Blair, 20 Years Dead: Tall Tales, Golden Road No. 05, Winter 1985
4.)^Boyd, Dick, The Semaphore #189, winter 2010,,_a_Gay_Mecca

4.) May, RA, comment, 2019-03-02, Pierre’s, 546 Broadway at Columbus, San Francisco, CA, 2012-05-28,

Stanley Theatre, 830 Liberty Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA


Capacity 2885

The Stanley Theater was built in 1927 at a cost of $3 million and opened on February 27, 1928. It had been one of nation's top live music venues during the big band era of the 1930s and 1940s.
On St. Patrick's Day in 1936, the theater flooded within two feet of the balcony. Several men were trapped for three days until police arrived in a motorboat and rescued them.

With the fading of the big bands the Stanley became a first run movie house from the late 1940s.

Pacific Theaters acquired ownership of the Stanley in 1961 when it purchased several theaters from RKO Stanley Warner.  With the growth of the rock movement during the 1960's the Stanley began to host concerts again.
Wow, Beatles, Beach Boys and Lesley Gore in one show!

The Pittsburgh based Cinemette Corporation purchased the Stanley in 1973 and gave it a half million dollar face lift.  Having an upgraded stage and restored auditorium the Stanley was a more attractive place to hold concerts.

Promoter Rich Engler brought several top acts to the Stanley in the mid 1970s.  Engler joined forces with promoter Pat DiCesare and they purchased the Stanley in 1977.  DiCesare-Engler Productions quickly turned the Stanley into the top popular music concert hall in the U.S. The Stanley hosted several concerts each week by top rock, jazz, country, and R&B artists and also presented touring Broadway musicals until 1982. 
Billboard Magazine named the Stanley Theater the "Number One Auditorium in the U.S." several times during the 1970's and 1980's.

Bob Marley's final concert was here on September 23, 1980.
Soundcheck 1980, Stanley Theater, Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust acquired the Stanley from DiCesare Engler in 1984, spent $43 million on renovations, and relaunched it as the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts in 1987.

Now the home of the Pittsburgh Opera and Ballet classical music is now heard in the once great hall of Rock N Roll, the Stanley Theater.  During the rock era the colorful story of the Stanley continued with a massive traffic jam, bomb threats and bombings, many great shows and a few historic concerts.(1)

There are over 90 crystal chandeliers, torchieres and sconces in the theater, all but one are original. The Central Brass Company located in Reading, PA refurbished them.

The Grand Lobby mirrors, marble and woodwork are all original.
At the landing on each staircase in the Grand Lobby are 18-foot high original mirrors meant to be reminiscent of the Hall of Mirrors at the Palace of Versailles.

The signature piece of the Benedum Center is the original main chandelier which weighs 4,700 pounds, is 20 feet high and 12 feet wide. It was restored in honor of the late H.J. Heinz II.

There are 1,500 feet of brass rail in the theater, most of which is original.

The Stanley was renamed in honor of the Claude Worthington Benedum, whose foundation made the made the largest contribution for theatre remodeling. The new and current name for the Stanley is the Benedum Center for the Performing Arts. The Benedum Center opened on Friday, September 25, 1987, The opening event was the show Purely Pittsburgh that featured music by Pittsburgh composers and performers with a Pittsburgh connection.(1)

Jerry performed here on
2/7/69 Early and late shows Grateful Dead
3/19/78 Jerry Garcia Band
11/30/79 Grateful Dead
12/1/79 Grateful Dead
3/5/81 Grateful Dead
3/6/81 Grateful Dead
6/23/82 Jerry Garcia Band

1.)^The Number One Concert Venue in the United States,

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Stabler Arena (Lehigh University), 124 Goodman Drive, Bethlehem, PA

Capacity 6000

Lehigh University opened the doors to Stabler Arena in May 1979.
Located on its Goodman Campus in the Lehigh Valley region of Pennsylvania.

Jerry performed here on
2/5/81 Jerry Garcia Band
9/25/81 Grateful Dead

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rancho Nicasio, 1 Old Rancheria Road, Rancho Nicasio, CA

Rancho Nicasio was a Mexican land grant of 56,807 acres (230 km2) granted to the Coast Miwok indigenous people in 1835, located in the present-day Marin County, California, a tract of land that stretched from San Geronimo to Tomales Bay.[1]

In the mid 1830s, 80,000 acres (324 km2) was promised by General Mariano Vallejo to the San Rafael Indians, whose land had been co-opted by the Mission San Rafael.[6] The land was granted by Mexican Governor José Figueroa to the Coast Miwok of Marin County in 1835, but the Miwok claim was rejected by the Public Land Commission in 1855.[6][7] José Calistro resecured a deed to 30 acres (0.1 km2) of the original rancho at Halleck Creek in 1870, and became the chief leader of the native community of Rancho Nicasio.[9]
In 1844, Governor Manuel Micheltorena granted the 56,621-acre (229.14 km2) Rancho Nicasio to Pablo de la Guerra and John B.R. Cooper.[8] By 1849, there were three owners — Pablo de la Guerra, Cooper, and Jasper O’Farrell. In 1850 Pablo de la Guerra sold his 30,848 acres (124.8 km2) undivided share of the ranch to Henry Wager Halleck. In 1850, Cooper sold his 16,293 acres (65.9 km2) undivided share of the ranch to Benjamin Rush Buckelew. Besides Cooper’s share of Rancho Nicasio, Buckelew also purchased Cooper’s Rancho Punta de Quentin and John Reed’s Rancho Corte Madera del Presidio. In 1851, O’Farrell sold his 9,479 acres (38.4 km2) share to James Black, the grantee of Rancho Cañada de Jonive. In 1852 Buckelew sold 7,598 acres (30.7 km2) to William Reynolds and Daniel Frink.
With the cession of California to the United States following the Mexican-American War, the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo provided that the land grants would be honored. As required by the Land Act of 1851, a claim for Rancho Nicasio was filed with the Public Land Commission in 1852,[12] and the grant patented to Black, Buckelew, Halleck, and Reynolds and Frink in 1870.[10]
Black later bought Halleck’s share of Rancho Nicasio. Black also bought Rancho Olompali from Camilo Ynitia, the last Olompali Indian chief, in 1852. Black's daughter, Mary, married Dr. Galen Burdell. Black's wife, Maria Agustina Sais, died in Dr. Burdell's dental chair in 1864.[12] In 1866 Black married Maria Loreto Duarte, Ygnacio Pacheco’s widow. James Black died in 1870.[13]
Today, Nicasio, California is at the heart of this location.[2][3]
So did ya get all that?

The Hotel Nicasio was built in 1867 to accommodate the influx of new people. Traders would come great distances and spend time at the hotel to bargain for cattle and timber. The hotel's twenty two rooms were virtually filled to capacity by traders and San Franciscans, who spent weekends and vacations in the pleasant and peaceful valley.
The boom of Nicasio faded with the advent of the railroad and the hotel burned down shortly before WWII on December 15, 1940.
Capacity 150

One year later, Rancho Nicasio was built where the hotel once stood and once again became the meeting place for the townspeople. It includes a swimming pool!(15) A rustic ranch-style atmospherewith a huge fireplace in the bar and lounge.(14) The bar is filled with taxidermy, old photos of the Nicasio area, and a wagon-wheel chandelier hangs from the ceiling.(16)
Nicasio has retained its rural atmosphere and tranquil beauty. The community still looks like a frontier town, a place where change is slow and predictable. The town gradually drifts through time, at an unnoticeable rate and will most likely boast those characteristics for many years to come.
Nicasio, which means "the hidden one", is a town that has been unspoiled by time.(1)

Jerry performed here on
3/7/79   Reconstruction
3/14/79 Reconstruction
5/31/79 Reconstruction
4/17/79 Reconstruction

2.)^ Marin County's Original Ranchos
3.)^ Original Mexican Land Grants in Marin County
4.)^Futcher & Conover 1983:101; Papina 2008:7; Munro-Fraser 1880:289. 
5.)^Jack Mason, 1971, Early Marin, Petaluma: House of Printing, pp.70-76
6.)^United States. District Court (California : Northern District)Land Case 404 ND
7.)^Hoover 2002:190.
8.)^Miller, 106th Congress Report  
9.)^Ogden Hoffman, 1862, Reports of Land Cases Determined in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, Numa Hubert, San Francisco 
10.)^United States. District Court (California : Northern District)Land Case 392 ND 
11.)^ Report of the Surveyor General 1844 - 1886 
12.)^Olompali Park Filled With History, Reutinger, Joan. The Coastal Post, Sept. 1997 
13.)^The Settlement of Nicasio: James Black
14.)^Independent Journal, 1970-02-12, pgS21
15.)^Independent Journal, 1970-02-12, pg S22 
16.)^Le Continental, 2012-03-24,

Friday, May 25, 2012

St. Paul Civic Center, 143 West Fourth Street, St. Paul, MN

Capacity 16,000

The St. Paul Civic Center was an indoor arena that was part of the RiverCentre. The arena opened on January 1, 1973.

The Civic Center is best remembered for it's unique hockey boards that were made of clear acrylic glass all the way down to the ice. This was because the seating configuration was round, meaning the closest seats at center ice were not right up against the glass. The clear boards made for
better sightlines for those spectators. The last professional hockey team to skate in the civic center was the IHL Minnesota Moose hockey club from 1994-1996. The clear boards were replaced with normal wood boards when the Moose played there, as the professional team needed to be able to sell
advertising on the boards. This wrecked the sightlines for what should have been the best seats, and proved that to get an expansion NHL team a new arena was needed.(1)

The arena was renamed the RiverCentre in the mid 1990s.

The arena was torn down in 1998 to make way for the Xcel Energy Center which was built in the exact same location as the old Civic center, which opened to play in 2000 with the Minnesota Wild, and subsequently the return of the State High School Hockey Tournament to play in St. Paul.(1)

Jerry performed here on
11/22/75 Jerry Garcia Band
5/11/77 Grateful Dead
7/3/78 Grateful Dead
7/10/81 Grateful Dead
8/6/82 Grateful Dead
6/25/83 Grateful Dead


Thursday, May 24, 2012

1991-02-27, Suzanne Shaw, "Headliners"

"Headliners"- Jerry Garcia interview 2-27-91

Columbia Recording, Studio A, 799 7th Ave., New York, NY

Studio A is circled.

799 7th Avenue, New york, NY was one of their earliest recording studios.

The company was founded in 1888, evolving from an earlier enterprise, the American Graphophone Company—successor to the Volta Graphophone Company.[2] Columbia is the oldest brand name in pre-recorded sound,[3] being the first record company to produce pre-recorded records as opposed to blank cylinders.
In 1934 it was known as Robbins Music Corporation. 
Dylan's Like A Rolling Stone was recorded here on June 15+16, 1965.
Before the Equitable, 799 7th was sold to engineer/producer Phil Ramone, who made it into yet another successful NY studio, A&R.
The building was demolished in 1983, and were replaced by the enormous Equitable Building, which now takes up the whole length of the block from 51st to 52nd.

After further research, Jerry never recorded here. It was Columbia Studios, San Francisco.

2.)^Bilton, Lynn. The Columbia Graphophone and Grafonola -A Beginner's Guide. website, 2007
3.)^Billboard, 1955-09-17, pg 36, 

Jerry's House, 436 Hamilton Street, Palo Alto, CA

"Dave Parker was a relatively new addition to the gang when he moved into the house. He was born in Santa Barbara but grew up mostly in San Francisco and Menlo Park, where he attended Sequoia High School, Tiff Garcia's alma mater. He went to UC Berkeley for a year to study engineering, but he did poorly and was placed on academic probation, so he moved back to the Peninsula and went instead to the College of San Mateo, where he met Rodney and Peter Albin, and then David Nelson. Like just about everyone else in this early part of the saga, he loved both Beat writers and folk music, which quite naturally led him into Garcia's wide circle of friends. Parker and Garcia became close friends that autumn, and they spent a lot of time hanging out and talking to Garcia at Dana Morgan's, which was just a few blocks from Hamilton Street. "He'd just be sitting around waiting for his next student to show up," Parker says. "Jerry always had some fascinating perspective on something. Then when his student would show up I'd go out in front and look at the instruments or talk to Dana, who I went to high school with.
"He was always an amazing guy," Parker continues. "I hate to use a word like charisma because it's so overused, but he just had a certain force to his personality and character — he was a very strong, magnetic person, and yet he was never looking to dominate anybody or any scene. He always had that thing of 'I'm not the leader,' yet ironically, he always was; he couldn't help it, just because of being him. It was natural."[2]

Jerry lived and rehearsed here in 
1963 The Chateau was sold and Jerry, David Nelson, Robert Hunter and Willy Legate moved into 436 Hamilton Street, just a block away from St. Michael's Alley.[3]
This is the house where the Wildwood Boys turned into the Black Mountain Boys in September. Hunter was fired from the band and replaced with Eric Thompson. The Black Mountain Boys were first called Elves, Gnomes, Leprachauns and Little People's Chowder and Marching Society Volunteer Fire Brigade and Ladies Auxiliary String Band.[1]

1964 Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions
Deep Elem Blues;Washington at Valley Forge;Beetle Um Bum;K.C. Moan;I'm Satisfied
Jerry Garcia, guitar and banjo
Bob Weir, washtub bass, jug and guitar
Pigpen, harmonica
David Nelson, guitar
David Parker, washboard and kazoo
Bob Matthews, washboard and kazoo.

 1.)^Troy, Sandy, Captain Trips, p. 54-5
2.)^Jackson, Blair, Garcia, An American Life, pg 59.
3.)^McNally, Dennis, A Long Strange Trip:The Inside History of the Grateful Dead, pg. 51.

Theatre 1839, 1839 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA

Next door was the former site of the synagogue for Temple Beth Israel, an early Jewish congregation in San Francisco, founded around 1860, which began constructing its fifth building at 1839 Geary in 1905, although its completion was interrupted by the April 1906 earthquake .

Next to the synagogue was the Scottish Rites (Masonic) Temple Building, known as the Alfred Pike Memorial Temple, at 1859 Geary, which dated back to the 19th century.

A remarkable photo exists from right after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, showing a damaged Beth Israel synagogue and the equally damaged Masonic Temple, with an empty lot where the future Fillmore would be built a few years later.
Although there were a number of different addresses on the block, these three buildings were the main structures on the block until the 1980s.(1)

A brief article in the May 3, 1969 edition of Music Industry trade magazine Billboard notes that Bill Graham sold the Geary Temple next to his old Fillmore Auditorium to Western Addition Youth Group, Inc., a self-help for ghetto teenagers for $166,000, although another bidder was willing to pay $175,000.
By that time, Graham had moved from the Fillmore to the Fillmore West, a dozen blocks and a mile and half away.  In any case, the Billboard notice shows that Graham owned the Geary Temple, and that accounts for the abrupt absence of any shows at the Geary Temple from 1966 onwards.(2)
Temple Beth Israel was on the move as well, as its Congregation merged with another Congregation, becoming Congregation Beth Israel-Judea in 1969. The Congregation moved to 625 Brotherhood Way in San Francisco, where it remains today.

Although the venue had "festival seating" for the most part, probably different than its synagogue functions, the elegant ceilings and decorations were intact, and it was not only a beautiful building but beautiful sounding as well.(1)

Right next door was the converted Alfred Pike Memorial Scottish Rites Temple, which by this time was the headquarters of Jim Jones's infamous Peoples Temple. Jones and his followers left for Jonestown, Guyana and their tragic mass suicide took place on November 18, 1978.
While Theatre 1839 was not directly connected to those events, it did add to the strange mojo of the block.

Temple Beautiful
Theatre 1839 did arise as a performance venue, however, known as Temple Beautiful in early 1979 and hosting a number of punk rock shows. The Clash in particular played a warmly remembered gig there, as well as many more local bands. While this is outside the scope of this blog, it is worth noting that once a Use Permit has been defined, venues are more likely to remain in use. Once again, I do not know the finances behind the concerts, nor why the building stopped being used for music after about 1980. At some point the building became "The Duquette Pavilion," hosting the work of artist Anthony Duquette.

The Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989 damaged the Fillmore Auditorium, Temple Beautiful (1839) and the former People's Temple (1859), and all the buildings were damaged by fire. The Fillmore was fully refurbished, but the two other buildings were torn down. After some time as vacant lots, the 1859 Geary address is now a newly constructed Post Office, and I do not know the fate of the lot at 1839.(1)

A San Francisco museum burned Thursday night, forcing the evacuation of neighbors and thousands of rock fans who were in the nearby Fillmore Auditorium. The fire at the Duquette Pavilion of St. Francis, a converted synagogue at 1839 Geary Blvd., quickly went to five alarms after it was reported at 9:19 p.m. Nearby buildings, including the Fillmore and the old Peoples Temple, were threatened but apparently undamaged. Some 140 firefighters and two dozen engines responded.(2)

This building on Geary in San Francisco had at one time been a Baptist church. It was used by Bill Graham as a music venue in the late 1970's.

Vintage evening gowns, 1920s clothing, Victorian to 1950s tuxedos. Men and women. Sales and rental. Closed Sunday.

Jerry performed here on
7/29/77 JGB (Bob Marley Greek and Willie Nelson Circle Star)
7/30/77 JGB
8/10/79 Reconstruction (Temple Beautiful)

1.)^Arnold, Corry, July 29-30, 1977: Theatre 1839, 1839 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA Jerry Garcia Band, 2009-11-18, Lost Live Dead,
2.)^San Jose Mercury News (CA) - February 17, 1989
3.)^Arnold, Corry, 1859 Geary Blvd, San Francisco: The Geary Temple 1966-68, Lost Live Dead, 2009-11-17,

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pismo Theatre, 260 Pomeroy Avenue, Pismo Beach, CA

Capacity 678

The May 7, 1927, issue of Building and Engineering News said that O. C. Williams was taking bids for construction of a theater, office, and store building to be built at Pismo Beach for W. W. Ward.

The Ward (or Ward’s) Theatre is mentioned as early as 1929 in Movie Age, and is mentioned quite a few times in Boxoffice in the 1930s and early 1940s. The most recent mention of it in Boxoffice is in the February 9, 1946, issue, in an item not about the theater itself but about the owner’s daughter who had been hospitalized after driving her car into the front door of a local bank.
That the Ward vanishes from the magazine before the Pismo opened is another indication that the Pismo was probably the Ward rebuilt. Another indication is a card in the California Index citing a 1948/1949 theater catalog which attributes the design for the remodeling of the Pismo Theatre to architect Vincent G. Raney.(4)

The Pismo pier, originally 1750 feet in length, extends 1107 feet to sea, built by W.W. Ward in 1925 at a cost of $120,000.

The architectural style indicates a late-1920s construction date. I’m sure the Ward Theatre and the Pismo/Central Coast Theatre are one and the same.(4)
The July 8, 1927, issue of Film Daily says that O. C. Williams was indeed the architect of the theater being built at Pismo Beach for W. W. Ward. The location of the new theater was given as Dolliver and Pomeroy, so there can be no more doubt that the Central Coast/Pismo Theatre and the Ward Theatre of 1927 are the same house.(4)

The June 28, 1947, issue of Boxoffice says: “July 1 is opening of the new Pismo Beach Theatre, operated by Westland Theatres. Al Chamberlin will manage the first-run house.”

This theatre has a 20's exterior, but the interior is definitely a moderne remodel. It is worth going inside. The stage flytower once had painted and neon letters simply reading "THEATRE" on all sides, which were visible from the nearby freeway. The sign on the rear wall of the stagehouse also featured remnants of a mural, perhaps a forest (it was badly weathered).
This building was rumored to host performances by Charlie Chaplin for Hearst privately. Hence the old back drop of the Garden (Hearst's garden). The signs were repainted to read "BILLIARDS" several years ago. (1)

In 1955 the theater was owned by Westland Theaters.
In 1961 through 1964, the Pismo Theater was part of Hardy Theaters, a chain that had houses in Oakland, San Francisco, Fresno and Pismo Beach. Headquarters was in San Francisco, and the president was Gerald Hardy.(3)

Jimi Hendrix performed here.

May have been called "The Rose Garden around 1976-77.(6)

This was a single screen theater in Pismo Beach, located a block from the beach. It showed second-run double bills in the 1970's and 1980's. (It briefly showed XXX films at midnight in the early 1980's before a local pastor started picketing the theater and that ended it.)

Rocky Horror” had a midnight run here. They also had rock concerts there. Randy Hansen performed a fantastic show here in October, 1979.(5)

In the late 80's a promoter, who had rock bands such as Blue Oyster Cult perform in 1988,  held an event and then he stole the box office money and left town.
In 1990, a sit down dinner playhouse was there. They cut the movie screen into a arched opening.
In 1991, the theater was partially renovated, restoring the 800 seats from it's opening and opened as Central Coast Theater.

The city refused to support it and even mandated that only country music be performed. There were still performances such as Elvin Bishop, Foghat, BTO and many others. After constant pressure from the city about the entertainment license and being forced to produce plays such as Dracula, eventually it failed due to financial problems.(2) It's been closed since 1994.

Today, the lobby area is a t-shirt shop and the auditorium is a pool hall with a small area in the back (where the stage was) that sells beer and fish and chips. Many of the Art Deco touches remain in the auditorium.

Now known as Hot Shots World Class Billiards & Restaurant

Jerry performed here on
Dennis Kota produced the concerts.

1.)^Parks, Gary, 2005-10-29,
3.)^McIntyre, Ken C.,
4.)^Vogel, Joe, 2009-08-12,
5.)^DougFromSLO, 2011-09-17,

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Hangar Two, USS Carl Vinson, Naval Air Station Alameda, Alameda, CA


The keel was laid at Newport News Shipbuilding on 11 October 1975, and on 15 March 1980 the ship was launched/christened. Congressman Carl Vinson became the first person in the history of the United States Navy to witness a ship's launching in his honor. After builder sea trials, she was delivered to the Navy on 26 February 1982.

The USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) is the third United States Navy Nimitz class supercarrier and is named after Carl Vinson, a Congressman from Georgia, in recognition of his contributions to the US Navy. A member of the United States House of Representatives for fifty years, Carl Vinson was, for twenty-nine years, the Chairman of the House Naval Affairs and Armed Services Committee; Vinson was the principal sponsor of the so-called "Vinson Acts," culminating in the Two-Ocean Navy Act of 1940, which provided for the massive Naval shipbuilding effort in World War II.

The ship was launched in 1980, undertook her maiden voyage in 1983, Carl Vinson departed Norfolk on March 1, 1983 with Carrier Air Wing Fifteen (CVW-15) embarked for her maiden deployment, an eight-month around the world cruise to her new homeport of Naval Air Station Alameda, California, arriving on 28 Oct. 1983.[2]

On 12 August 1986 the ship departed Alameda for a western Pacific deployment, again with CVW-15 aboard, and in the process became the first modern U.S. aircraft carrier to operate in the Bering Sea. In January 1987, after operating extensively in the Indian Ocean and North Arabian Sea, Carl Vinson transited the Bering Sea once more while returning to NAS Alameda.[3)

1987: After conducting extensive operations in the Indian Ocean and North Arabian Sea, Carl Vinson transited the Bering Sea once again in January. During the transit to NAS Alameda, Carl Vinson received the highest grade ever given to an aircraft carrier during an Operational Reactor Safeguard Examination.

1988: Carl Vinson departed NAS Alameda for its fourth deployment on June 15, 1988

Besides deployments in Operation Desert Strike, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Southern Watch, and Operation Enduring Freedom, the Carl Vinson was involved in a number of notable events. The body of Osama bin Laden was disposed of in 2011 from the deck of the Carl Vinson, and that same year, on November 11, she played host to the first NCAA basketball game on an aircraft carrier, between North Carolina and Michigan State.

The ship underwent Refueling and Overhaul between 2005 and 2009. Carl Vinson's callsign is "Gold Eagle".

Jerry performed on this ship on
3/6/87 JGB
Jerry had to play this show as part of his community service for getting arrested the year before in Golden Gate Park.
If you look at page 18 of the Official "1987 Command History" for the USS Carl Vinson (accessible as a PDF from footnote 4 at, there is a list of "1987 Distinguished Visitors and Media Visits In Port."
For 6 Mar 87 it says "Jerry Garcia and The Grateful Dead, on board to give a daylight concert in Hangar Two."(1)

1.)^Arnold, Corry, 2009-12-10, Jerry garcia's Middle Finger,
2.)^"Welcome to USS Carl Vinson CVN 70 Public Site".

Monday, May 21, 2012

Stowe Lake, Golden Gate Park, 50 Stow Lake Drive, San Francisco, CA

Stow Lake, the largest of the man made lakes in Golden Gate Park, surrounds the prominent Strawberry Hill, now an island with an electrically pumped waterfall.
Completed in 1893, Stow Lake is considered a landscaping masterpiece.

It was named after Gold Rush-era lawyer William Walter Stow, who was a lobbyist for Southern Pacific back when railroad people had a lot of power.
William W. Stow (1824-1895) was a native of Binghamton, New York, where he was raised on a farm. He graduated from Hamilton College and moved to California when he was 28-years-old.
He settled in Santa Cruz County and grew lemons. Two years later he ran for the California Assembly and served two terms. In 1855, he became the Speaker of the California Assembly. A year later, he ran an unsuccessful campaign for Governor on the Know-Nothing ticket. Stow made headlines as Assembly Speaker when he railed against Jews from the floor and even proposed a tax on Jews that ''would act as a prohibition to their residence amongst us.'' Stow’s outburst was a reaction against Louis Schwartz, a resident of Santa Cruz, who had opened businesses. Stow’s goal was to discourage Jews from moving to California.
From 1878-1893, Stow made a name for himself as the political “strong arm” and attorney for Collis P. Huntington and the powerful Southern Pacific Railroad. Stow was primarily responsible for the Southern Pacific’s ability to build the railways through his ability to raise massive amounts of financing and gain political favors.
In 1889, he was appointed to the San Francisco Park Commission and immediately began complaining about the lack of funds for Golden Gate Park. Ironically, when he was Assembly Speaker, he had cut funding for the park in half. In 1893, a lake at Golden Gate Park was named after Stow, who then convinced Huntington to pay $25,000 for a waterfall that still pours into the lake and is named after the railroad baron. That same year, he retired from the railroad to focus his attention on his duties as a park commissioner.(4)

Stow Lake was supposed to be just a reservoir to provide water for the rest of the park, and the bridges and landscaping and boathouse were added as a secondary thing. The waterfall was donated by Collis P. Huntington, another railroad tycoon.(3)

Created out of sand dunes by imaginative park superintendant John McLaren, it is the largest of Golden Gate Park’s lakes. Massive holes were dug out of the sand, carloads of clay were wheeled in and windmills were built to draft water from natural wells.
Strawberry Hill, the highest point in the park, became a central focus as an island in the middle of the lake.
The Rustic Bridge and the Roman Bridge, both completed in 1893 and still standing, connect the lakeshore with the island, allowing visitors panoramic views from the crest of the hill and access to walking paths as well as to the stone staircase that parallels dramatic Huntington Falls.
Three smaller islands add interest to the setting and provide wildlife habitation. It is no wonder that this jewel in the middle of Golden Gate Park was a featured attraction during the 1894 Midwinter Fair.(2)

Rowboats and pedalboats can be rented at the boathouse. Much of the western portion of San Francisco can be seen from the top of this hill, which at its top contains one of the reservoirs that supply a network of high-pressure water mains that exclusively supply specialized fire hydrants throughout the city.

The famous ghost story and legend of Stow Lake has been circulating for nearly 100 years, and it goes something like this: Once upon a time at Stow Lake, in Golden Gate Park, there was a lady who was walking her baby in a stroller. After a while, this lady got tired and rested on the bench next to the lake, with the stroller right next to her. While she was sitting, another lady came to sit down next to her and they started talking. While they were conversing, the stroller rolled away unnoticed. The stroller with the baby fell in the lake. After the two women finished talking, the lady noticed her baby was gone and panicked right away. She then walked around Stow Lake and asked people, “Have you seen my baby?” She spent all day and all night asking everyone. When the night was over, the last place she checked was the lake. She went into the lake looking for her baby and ever since, she hasn’t been seen again.
It is rumored that if someone goes to Stow Lake at night, weird occurrences take place. Stories have been told that the lady comes up from the lake, or the statue in her honor comes to life, or she will come up to you and ask, “Have you seen my baby?(1)

Jerry & Daniel Garcia
Stowe Lake in Golden Gate Park
San Francisco
Late 1950s

 -- (pg. 24*), Jerry & Daniel would also practice at Stowe Lake, in Golden Gate Park.(5)

1.)^Stow Lake Ghost,
3.)^Hartlaub, Peter, A century of Stow Lake in Golden Gate Park,2012-09-22,
4.)^Colbruno, Michael, Lives of the Dead: Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland,
5.)^Jackson, Blair, Garcia:An American Life, pg 24

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Crystal Ballroom, Biltmore Hotel, 515 South Olive Street, Los Angeles, CA


When the eleven-story Biltmore Hotel opened on October 2, 1923,  it was the largest hotel west of the Mississippi.
The Biltmore was designed in the Beaux Arts style with some Italian and Spanish Renaissance by the architectural firm Schultze and Weaver.
The hotel opened with 1,500 guest rooms over 11 floors and was decorated with frescoes, marble fountains, columns and crystal chandeliers. Italian Giovanni Smeraldi led a team of artists who hand painted the Greek myth-inspired frescoes that cover the ceiling of the Crystal Ballroom. It took them seven months to complete the job. (Adam Dawson)

As an homage to the Castilian heritage of Los Angeles, the "Biltmore Angel" is heavily incorporated into the design—as a symbol of the city as well as the Biltmore itself. With a thick steel and concrete frame, the structure takes up half a city block and rises over 11 stories.

The interiors of the Biltmore Hotel are decorated with: frescos and murals; carved marble fountains and columns; massive wood-beamed ceilings; travertine and oak paneled walls; lead crystal chandeliers; caste bronze stairwells and doorways; fine artisan marquetry and mill work; and heavily embroidered imported tapestries and draperies.

Most notable are the frescoed mural ceilings in the main Galleria and the Crystal Ballroom, which were hand painted in 1922 by Italian artist Giovanni Smeraldi, known for his work in the Vatican and the White House. Smeraldi and his team famously painted the ballroom's colorful, seamless fresco over a period of seven months, decorating it with figures of Greek and Roman gods, angels, cupids and other mythological creatures. It was meticulously restored in the 1980s by Smeraldi's apprentice, Anthony Heinsbergen. The imported Austrian crystal chandeliers that adorn it are 12 feet (3.7 m) in diameter.
Crytal Ballroom ceiling decorated by John Smeraldi.

The Rendezvous Court, once the hotel's lobby but now used primarily for afternoon tea, is decorated with a Moorish Revival styled plaster ceiling painted with 24 Carat Gold accents, two original imported Italian chandeliers from 1923, and a grand Spanish Baroque Revival bronze doorway, whose astrological clock still keeps time today. Two figures appear on the stairwell front—on the left is the Roman goddess of agriculture Ceres, while on the right is the Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa. The current lobby at the hotel's Grand Avenue entrance still has its original travertine walls and oak paneling as well as the large artificial skylighted ceiling, reflected in the custom carpet below.
Each ballroom on the Galleria level is themed either after the rooms’ original function or the hotel's overall California-heritage premise.

The Emerald Room was once the hotel's main guest dining room; its decor features images of hunt and harvest, with hand-painted animals and fish on the cast-plaster ceiling beams.

The Tiffany Room was formerly an open corridor used as a drop-off point for Crystal Ballroom functions. Now enclosed, the elegant space centers around exploration, with relief sculptures and panels depicting Queen Isabella I of Castile, and Christopher Columbus and other Spanish New World explorers.

The split-level Gold Room, once a dining room for elite guests, features Prohibition-era hidden liquor compartments and panels along the ceiling for press photographers to take pictures of the event below. It is decorated with a gold cast-plaster ceiling, hand-oiled wood paneling, and nine mirrored windows along three sides.

The South Galleria is painted with floral friezes inspired by the decor of ancient Roman Pompeii, and features a vaulted ceiling, marble balustrades and heavy Roman piers. Gold-painted wrought iron gates, made famous in Alfred Hitchcock's 1950s film Vertigo, open to a staircase leading down to the Biltmore Bowl.
Also of interest is the hotel's health club and indoor pool, which was modeled after the decks of 1920s luxury cruise-ships such as the Queen Mary. Solid brass trim on windows, doors and railings, teakwood deck chairs and hand-laid Italian mosaic tile on the walls and in the pool are original. All designs are of a nautical theme.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was founded in the hotel's Crystal Ballroom on May 11, 1927, when guests such as Louis B. Mayer met to discuss plans for the new organization and presenting achievement awards to colleagues in their industry.
Legend has it that MGM art director Cedric Gibbons, who was in attendance, immediately grabbed a linen Biltmore napkin and sketched the design for the Oscar statue on it. Cedric Gibbons won the Oscar 11 times, nominated 37 times.

Eight Oscar ceremonies were held in the Biltmore Bowl during the Academy's early years of 1931, 1935–39, and 1941-42.
Vivian Leigh, 1939

In 1929, Germany's Graf Zeppelin airship soared over the hotel on its round-the-world voyage, sponsored by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Crew and passengers were fed by Biltmore culinary staff, who also replenished their on-board supplies.

In 1952 famous Indian yogi Paramahansa Yogananda died at the Biltmore. During a banquet given for the Indian ambassador to America, Yogananda was reading a poem when he suffered a heart attack. Since then the hotel has become a holy site for his followers who believe it to be the place where his soul left his body.(Adam Dawson)

John F. Kennedy accepted the Democratic presidential nomination in 1960 at the hotel. He also used its Music Room as his campaign headquarters.
Four years later, in 1964, The Beatles made a trip to visit the Presidential Suite during their first U.S. tour. Huge numbers of fans on the sidewalks forced them to get in through an unusual way: The band's helicopter had to land on the hotel roof.(Adam Dawson)

Read more: History of the Biltmore in Los Angeles |

 In 1977 Bob Hope hosted the Academy's 50th Anniversary banquet in the same room. Movie industry guests assembled there to discuss the possibility of organizing a new awards ceremony which was to become known as the Academy Awards, or the Oscars. 

Upon purchase by Millenium Hotels and Resorts in 2000, the L.A. landmark became the Millenium Biltmore Hotel.

Jerry performed here on
8/2/89 Benefit for the National Hispanic Arts, Education & Media Institute. Carlos Santana, Reuben Blades, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz and Linda Ronstadt also performed.