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  SF Landmark #8: History | Renovation

Bayview Opera House Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre
Renovation Project 2014 - 2016


Our historic home, the Bayview Opera House Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre, re-opened to the public on September 17, 2016.

It all started with the restoration of the original wood floor of the auditorium in the summer 2010, with grant funding provided by the National Park Service's Save America's Treasures program. Previously covered by layers of plywood, asbestos and linoleum, the 75% intact 1888 Douglas Fir floor emerged in all its glory and led to the acceptance of the building into the the National Register of Historic Places. This fact in turn provided additional historic protection, and, most importantly, made it clear to everyone that this building deserved more than a makeshift fix of some significant problems, including a structurally weakened exterior wall, a sagging balcony and the glaring lack of compliance with the requirements of the Ameicans with Disablilities Act.

The owner of the building, the San Francisco Arts Commission, was able to raise the addiitonal funds to do it right. They hired renowned project mansger Deborah Frieden, who previously oversaw the construction of the De Young Museum. Also on board came San Francisco architectural firm TEF, and Oakland-based landscape architect and artist Walter Hood. After a series of community meetings soliciting input, the architectural teams came up with the stunningly modern and beautiful outdoor design we enjoy today, and the interior improvements to the structure remained invisble, as they should be for a protected building.


A new plaza at 3rd & Newcomb exposes the grand entrance from the street, showing off the new modern walkway connecting the entrance to the porch.
 
On the large amphitheatre wooden stage artists can entertain audiences on the seats, the lawn, or milling about the walkways.

New permanent outdoor seating makes outdoor events a snap. Imported from Germany, these chairs are good-looking, robust and comfortable.
 
A lawn was planted where once there was only concrete. Children can play, families have a picnic and watch a performance.
 




 
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