Re: An Architectural Travesty 02/01/06
posted by John Martini
Judy: Good sleuthing! I was only peripherally involved in the Cliff House remodeling project but I didn't think I remembered a ballot measure about its future. I do remember quite a bit of debate about the remodeling, though, much of which suggested tearing down the existing Cliff House and building a an entirely new "Landmark" structure of some sort on the site. To my knowledge, there were no serious suggestions of rebuilding any of the earlier Cliff Houses.
The Cliff House we all grew up with was built in 1909 by Emma Sutro Merrit and extensively remodeled in 1949 by George Whitney, who added a fourth story and sheathed the original building in an "art moderne" redwood facade. By the 1980s the building was recognized as having serious problems regarding structural integrity, disabled access, etc., so a remodeling project was undertaken.
The Park Service's final plans called for removing the 1949 addition and the redwood facade to expose the original 1909 exterior, and then refurbishing the building to an approximation of its original historic appearance. To make up for the loss of the fourth floor dining room and other spaces, a new addition was approved on the site of the non-historic North Annex that once housed the Sky Tram and a souvenir/hot dog shop.
Although the refurbished Cliff House is as popualr as ever, it seems not everyone likes the juxtaposition of old Cliff House vs. the new addition. Personally, I think anything is an improvement over the Pronto Pup!