City starts demolition of Fleishhacker Pool House

Fleishhacker Pool House demolition

Crews work to tear down the west side of the Fleishhacker Poolhouse near Ocean Beach Monday. Jon Weiand/Ocean Beach Bulletin

Contractors started demolition on the fire-damaged Fleishhacker Pool House Monday, knocking down much of the the roof, interior walls and the entire western-facing wall of the upper floor.

The Fleishhacker Pool House was so badly burned in a Dec. 1 fire that it’s too dangerous to let stand and must be demolished, the City says. The wrecked building once was a part of one of San Francisco’s grandest structures, the massive Fleishhacker Pool.

The fire destroyed the roof of the main building, leaving the walls of the upper story vulnerable to collapsing, according to a letter from Department of Public works engineers to the head of the Recreation and Park Department, which owns the pool house and some surrounding land.

“Because collapse of these walls presents an imminent danger to pedestrians in the vicinity and potential squatters within the building, we recommend complete demolition of the building as soon as possible,” the Dec. 4 letter reads.

In a document issued Dec. 5 and posted on the gate of a fence around the pool house, the Department of Building Inspection ordered the building to be torn down.

“It’s clearly ready to fall down,” said DBI spokesman William Strawn, who said he had examined the building along with other DBI personnel and other City departments.

He said that although inspectors recommended that no one go inside the building, “you could definitely see there were parts … where there were big holes” in the roof.

Strawn said he believed that some of the building’s distinctive features, such as its green terracotta roof tiles or decorative embellishments, might be removed before the demolition and stored.

The City has contracted with a photographer to take pictures of the building before it’s torn down. And Monday afternoon, amid the tinkle of breaking glass and crunch of falling masonry as heavy equipment tore down the western facade of the building, two workers piled roof tiles onto a pallet that later was removed.

Read the Fleishhacker Pool House inspection letter and demolition order:
Emer Order Pool Zoo Dec 2012

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12 Comments

  1. Absolutely disgusted and Heart Broken!!!!

  2. This is heartbreaking, especially because the city had decades to do something positive with the building but they never lifted a finger. Keep your eyes on the “Mother’s House” which is also from that era and also on Zoo property. It’s been closed and neglected since the 1989 earthquake. There is an amazing WPA mural inside that spans around the entire circumference of the inside of the building. It would be a shame to lose that too, but I don’t expect the City will do a damn thing about that building either.

  3. Sad. Great memories. Should have saved it years ago.

  4. This is a crime, not that it burned, that is only a mercy at last, but that both the City and particularly the Zoo, who campaigned aggressively against the pool in the 1970s, did “squat” with either the pool or the bathhouse. All they did was destroy and neglect, wanton disregard for the historical character of the building, which was built by Ward & Blohme, who also designed Memorial Church at Stanford and the Carnegie Library in Lakeport. This is a glaring example of the lack of vision, creativity, or any concern for SF History on the part of all the “bureaucrats” who let this happen. A once great city is hostage to petty, small minded apparatchiks. Sad…

  5. The tiles? The property should have been secured better in the first place. Keeping out the vermin that lit it on fire. This was a part of my childhood as was the Doggie Diner. Oh, but we saved the head. Yeah, let’s make a faux roof and display the green tiles for all to come see how my city failed to preserve another landmark for its residents again. I’m sure at least a few of those firemen remembered the swimming pool, so sad.

    • The decay to this landmark building didn’t happen overnight; it was falling in to its sorry state over a period of decades. Where was the popular support to restore and conserve what remained of it?

    • It is such a disgrace to destroy what was such a grand structure. It seems with the money we blow around the world there should be a few million to rebuild this structure to it grandure of days gone by. It is history and we are going to distroy it for ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • I always wondered what it was and why no one did anything with it. Stuff like that gets destroyed by neglect in Detroit all the time, but this is San Francisco, where they spent millions restoring a structure that was only meant to exist for four years. San Francisco Preservationists have some messed up priorities.

  6. There are thousands of photographs of Fleishhacker on Flickr, such as these:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ramon_burgos_ruiz/sets/72157622424860778/

  7. It’s nice that they at least want to preserve a little of what’s left.

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