Sunnyside in the 1970s: Trees, Traffic, Taxes

By Amy O’Hair

Traffic calming – planting and saving trees – safe places for children to play – newly revealed local history: the issues on the minds of Sunnysiders fifty years ago were not so different from things that interest residents now. The newsletters of Sunnyside’s local organization from those years have recently been archived and made available online at the Internet Archive, and tell some inspiring stories about actions that still impact our lives today.

Although Sunnyside has seen organized advocacy by residents since the 1890s (more here), the current organization, Sunnyside Neighborhood Association (SNA), dates to late 1974.[1] The 1970s saw a surge of local activism in the many neighborhoods in San Francisco. Five decades later, we still enjoy some of the fruits of that upwelling, for instance in open spaces that were established as parks. There was also a downside to the activism then that still affects the city; in some areas, such as the Richmond district, residents fought density with downzoning measures, working to exclude multi-unit buildings and “retain local character,” resulting in a dearth of housing units in subsequent decades, and de facto residential segregation.

But SNA was, according to the record of these early newsletters, more intent on trees, parks, and calming traffic. Monterey Boulevard had already undergone big changes in the 1950s and 1960s, with an extensive apartment-building boom. The 1970s saw even more upzoning on the boulevard. SNA didn’t oppose more housing, but as we’ll see, it did try to rescue trees that were eventually to fall victim to a particularly determined developer of multi-unit buildings, among many other projects, such as tree-planting and boosting local businesses.

The publication of the new archive of the SNA newsletters is due to the work of LisaRuth Elliott and her team for the Neighborhood Newspapers of San Francisco project on the Internet Archive. Continue reading “Sunnyside in the 1970s: Trees, Traffic, Taxes”

Sunnyside History in Photos: Places

A collection of photographs of places and things in Sunnyside’s history.

Photos of people in Sunnyside here. Main photo page here.  Do you have a photo to add? Write me.

One of big advertisements that launched the district. SF Chronicle, 26 Apr 1891.
One of big advertisements that launched the district. SF Chronicle, 26 Apr 1891. More maps here.
1904. Sunnyside Powerhouse viewed from the east side near Monterey and Circular. Cooling pool, disused, visible in foreground. Read more about the powerhouse. Courtesy SFMTA sfmta.photoshelter.com
1904. Sunnyside Powerhouse, viewed from the east side near Monterey and Circular. Cooling pool, disused, visible in foreground. Courtesy SFMTA sfmta.photoshelter.com Read more about the powerhouse. 

Continue reading “Sunnyside History in Photos: Places”

Aeroplanes, automobiles, and alternative medicine: The love story of William and Temperance Merralls

Photo from prospectus, Merralls Safety Aeroplane Company, 1910. Courtesy Allan Merralls.

The story of William Augustus Merralls (1852–1914) and Temperance Laura Clarke Neely Merralls (1865–1930) during their life together. Related posts on main Merralls page.

William Augustus and Temperance Laura Merralls were remarkable and eccentric residents of early Sunnyside. William left a legacy to the neighborhood—the Sunnyside Conservatory, a city landmark on Monterey Boulevard, which he built about 1902.

When they married in 1909, they were both in middle age, William a widower, Temperance a divorcee. William’s inventions were innovative, and wide-ranging; Temperance brought an interest in alternative medicine and healing. They were devoted to each other, but had just five years together. Rare photographs from their last year together are first seen in this article.

1914-Temperance-William-Merralls-Hartsough-s-crop
1914c. Temperance Laura and William Merralls, with unknown woman in bed. Location unknown. Courtesy Hartsough family.

The match was anchored in a deep love, but it was also a meeting of minds. They shared interests and beliefs, rooted both in the Baptist faith and a complete confidence that human progress was positively furthered by new discoveries and ideas.

Dreaming on Sunnyside Avenue

Living in the house at 258 Sunnyside Avenue (now Monterey Blvd)—with its extensive grounds surrounding the Conservatory, the couple were outliers in an otherwise working-class neighborhood.

Conservatory-detail-Proctor-highlighttt
1905c. Portion of panorama, altered to show Merralls’ house, Conservatory, and grounds on Sunnyside Ave (now Monterey). Original: Western Neighborhoods Project.

Continue reading “Aeroplanes, automobiles, and alternative medicine: The love story of William and Temperance Merralls”

Some photos from ‘Raise Your Gladsome Voices’ at Sunnyside Conservatory

1908. California Historical Society.

As part of the Special Holiday Meeting on Saturday 2 December 2017, Glen Park Neighborhoods History Project presented a short play ‘Raise Your Gladsome Voices’ about the Glen Park women involved in the the first suffrage march in the US, written by Amy O’Hair and performed by Valerie Fachman and Haley Roth-Brown. The meeting and social began with a talk by Evelyn Rose about the subject of the drama, Glen Park activist and suffragist, Johanna Pinther.

“I was not altogether convinced … about women and the vote.”
“What is the women’s vote if you haven’t got but a dribble coming out of the taps?!”

Continue reading “Some photos from ‘Raise Your Gladsome Voices’ at Sunnyside Conservatory”

An Inventive Life: Temperance Laura Merralls at Home on Sunnyside Avenue

As part of the next meeting of the Glen Park Neighborhoods History Project, an original short monologue will be presented. Saturday 10 December 2016 at the Sunnyside Conservatory, 3 – 5 pm, with a social hour to follow. Newly discovered materials about the Merralls also presented during the meeting.As part of the next meeting of the Glen Park Neighborhoods History Project, an original short monologue will be presented. Saturday 10 December 2016 at the Sunnyside Conservatory, 3 - 5 pm, with a social hour to follow. Newly discovered materials about the Merralls also presented during the meeting. More here. 

 

W.A. Merralls: Inventor and Entrepreneur of Sunnyside

WA Merralls, US patent no.827745

By Amy O’Hair

Sunnyside Conservatory is this neighborhood’s only city landmark, and certainly our premier historical treasure. People who have never heard of Sunnyside come from all over the Bay Area to get married or celebrate other events in its beautifully restored building and grounds. But who was the man who built it? Some history has been written about him, but not all of it has been complete or accurate; the roles his two wives played in the story have also not been fully told.

Sunnyside Conservatory, Monterey Blvd, San Francisco CA. Photo: Amy O'Hair.
Sunnyside Conservatory, Monterey Blvd, San Francisco CA. 2016 Photo: Amy O’Hair.

[See this page for all things related to Merralls and the Sunnyside Conservatory.]

William Augustus Merralls with his first wife Lizzie A. Merralls built the Sunnyside Conservatory about 1902. William was a prolific and creative inventor, turning his hand to everything from machinery for extracting gold to refrigerators to automobile starters, and registering over twenty patents in as many years. (Here is a full list.) The Conservatory was a special place to keep and display the many special plants he acquired on his travels.[i] He may have picked a modest neighborhood to settle down in, but his ideas and his ambitions knew few limits. Continue reading “W.A. Merralls: Inventor and Entrepreneur of Sunnyside”