The Friends of 1800 is a grassroots, nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving significant historical buildings, landmarks and the architectural heritage of San Francisco with a special interest in the identification and recognition of issues and sites important to GLBT history and culture.
The Friends of 1800's organization was born out of the decision by the Community Center Project (CCP) board to demolish the Fallon Building, an 1894 Victorian that embodies so much San Francisco history. Original plans for the Fallon Building had called for renovating and incorporating the existing building's structure into the new Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center building, to be constructed alongside the Fallon Building.
Based on upwardly revised cost estimates, the CCP board decided against renovation and moved to demolish the building. Although the revised estimate figure was challenged by the San Francisco Heritage Foundation and cost-reducing alternatives were presented, the CCP board voted (on September 17, 1997) to demolish the Fallon Building. However, the CalTrans survey of historic properties along the Central Freeway (completed in May 1997) had determined that the Fallon Building is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Friends of 1800, the SF Heritage Foundation, the Victorian Alliance, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation later convinced the CCP board to revisit the historic importance of the Fallon Building. Preservationist Architect Jay Turnbull assisted architects Jane Cee and Peter Pfau in another feasibility study. Together they worked with the CCP in an effort to incorporate the Victorian with the new Community Center, as originally planned.
The Friends of 1800 assisted in the facilitation of the demolition of insignificant adjoining structures at the site in the interest of securing the safety of the Fallon Building. This action was taken in support of the CCP's decision to demolish those structures, having been hindered by Planning Commission rules concerning partial demolitions.
With the completion and utilization of the GLBT Community Center, the Friends of 1800 has expanded its focus to other challenging projects. These include the potential surveying of the Castro and Noe Valley areas, educational events such as the Mary Colter lecture, an international conference, Looking Back and Forward, Significant Places of the GLBT Community, support for the restoration of the New Mission and Harding Theaters, preservation of the U.C. Berkeley Extension Laguna Street campus, and ongoing political advocacy in the San Francisco environment. Key to the success of the Friends is the collaboration with both the San Francisco Architectural Heritage and GLBT Historical Society of Northern California.
The Friends extends its outreach to preservationists beyond the city. Board members, Advisors and members represent a cross section of our nation from Honolulu, Hawaii to Washington DC. The lessons from the Fallon experience are always nearby.