The First Black Family in Glen Park

One of a series of articles about the Poole-Bell House in Fairmount Heights, San Francisco.

In researching the real history of the Poole-Bell house in Fairmount, I discovered an untold chapter in its story. In 1918, after Teresa Bell moved out of her “gloomy old house,”[1] she rented to a family named Tyrrel. They turned out to be the first African-American family in the Glen Park-Fairmount district.[2] They stayed for three decades, finally settling in a house on Chenery.

Their lives tell us something of what it was to be black in San Francisco in the decades before WWII. Fortunately, the family archivist has shared with me many photos of the Tyrrels, some of which were taken at the Poole-Bell house, as well as family stories. The Tyrrels were in the public record for their church and fraternal group activities. These fortunate gifts have made it possible to tell a story of the family.

Bertram and Frances Tyrrel moved to the big house at the corner of Laidley and Fairmount Streets during the last years of Teresa Bell’s ownership. They had two children still living with them, Irma, then 22, and Wendell, 21. Frances also had two older children from a previous marriage who had both since started their own families: Pearl Hinds, who had three small daughters and kept a farm in Tulare County with her husband; and James Barber, who had a wife and young daughter in San Mateo County.

The family was very close, including Frances’ sister’s and brother’s families. Photographs during these years bear out the family’s sense of belonging and their pleasure and pride in their shared lives.

1920c. Group photo in front of the Laidley Street house. From left: Bertram Tyrrel, Irma Tyrrel, Marjorie Lake with Eleanor Hinds, Harriet Cady Lake in back, and next to her Frances Tyrrel, and Wendell Tyrrel with Marian and Frances Hinds in front.
1920c. Group photo in front of the Laidley Street house. From left to right: Bertram Tyrrel, Irma Tyrrel, Marjorie Lake with Eleanor Hinds in front, Harriet Cady Lake in back, and next to her Frances Tyrrel, and Wendell Tyrrel with Marian and Frances Hinds in front. Courtesy Charles Reid/Ivy Reid Collection.

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Diamond at Bosworth: 1912 and Today

SFMTA sfmta.photoshelter.com

Move slider to compare photographs. The dangerous trestle bridge was for the electric streetcar, over Islais Creek until the gulch was filled in in 1920s. Note square bay windows under large tree at center-right of image, now Glen Park Cleaners (corner of Diamond and Chenery), which was Haack’s saloon at the turn of the century. View larger here. Look at other comparison photographs here.

Some photos from ‘Raise Your Gladsome Voices’ at SF History Association

1908. Johanna Pinther (left of banner) and Jeanette Pinther (right of banner). Photo: California Historical Society.

On Tuesday 29 January 2019, at the meeting of the San Francisco History Association, Glen Park Neighborhoods History Project reprised our blended presentation ‘America’s First Suffrage March & the Glen Park Women Behind It,’ which traces the women of Glen Park who were instrumental in the first suffrage march in the United States. After Evelyn Rose’s talk about the background of the event and the women’s involvement with this under-documented historic event, the evening concluded with the short play ‘Raise Your Gladsome Voices,’ written by Amy O’Hair and performed by Valerie Fachman and Haley Roth-Brown, and introducing Christine Konkol.

'Raise Your Gladsome Voices' playwright Amy O'Hair (left) with actors (left to right) Valerie Fachman, Haley Roth-Brown, and Christine Konkol. Photo: Josephine Coffey.
Taking bows. ‘Raise Your Gladsome Voices’ playwright Amy O’Hair (far left) with actors (left to right) Valerie Fachman, Haley Roth-Brown, and Christine Konkol. Photo: Josephine Coffey.
'My husband Theodore Pinther is not so keen on that.' Raise Your Gladsome Voices. Photo: Sharon Nadeau.
‘My husband Theodore Pinther is not so keen on that.’ Photo: Sharon Nadeau.

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Monterey to Diamond: 1919 and Today

1919. Monterey toward Diamond. OpenSFHistory.org

Move slider to compare photographs. A succession of changes here including street-widening (1918), Bernal Cut widening (1927), Interstate 280 (1964), and BART (1972) make it nearly unrecognizable one hundred years on. View larger here. Look at other comparison photographs here.