January 25, 2011

Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

These wavy columns are part of San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts, originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition as a place to exhibit works of art.   Today, the work of art is the structure itself.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

For a time the Palace housed a continuous art exhibit, and during the Great Depression, W.P.A. artists were commissioned to replace the deteriorated Robert Reid murals on the ceiling of the rotunda. From 1934 to 1942 the exhibition hall was home to eighteen lighted tennis courts.   During World War II it was requisitioned by the Army for storage of trucks and jeeps. At the end of the war, when the United Nations was created in San Francisco, limousines used by the world's statesmen came from a motor pool there.   From 1947 on the hall was put to various uses: as a city Park Department warehouse; as a telephone book distribution center; as a flag and tent storage depot; and even as temporary Fire Department headquarters.

While the Palace had been saved from demolition, its structure was not stable.   Originally intended to only stand for the duration of the Exhibition, the colonnade and rotunda were not built of durable materials, and thus framed in wood and then covered with staff, a mixture of plaster and burlap-type fiber.   As a result of the construction and vandalism, by the 1950's the simulated ruin was in fact a crumbling ruin.

In 1964 the original Palace was completely demolished, with only the steel structure of the exhibit hall left standing.   The buildings were then reconstructed in permanent, light-weight, poured-in-place concrete, and steel I-beams were hoisted into place for the dome of the rotunda.   All the decorations and sculpture were constructed anew.
((( source: Wikipedia)))

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

It seems like a romantic sort of place -- or short of that, perhaps a good place to walk dogs.

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John @ Beans and I on the Loose said...

Wow, did not know all that about the Palace. Thank you for the history lesson.

TrevorW�� said...

A very interesting post. Thank you for the information and great photos.

photowannabe said...

Boy, where have I been? I guess in 1964 I had too many other things on my mind to pay attention to the reconstruction of the Palace. Let's see, I was in college, working 30 hours a week and getting married.
Great shots of the columns Don. Hope your week is going well.

What Karen Sees said...

Very interesting photos and commentary!

Tomate Farcie said...

Wow. the reflextion shots are A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!!!!

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