Four Bay Area sites joined the National Register of Historic Places this morning, including a former cotton mill in Oakland, two former railway facilities and a San Francisco synagogue.
The California State Historic Resources Commission approved the four applications for locations in San Francisco, Oakland and Brisbane at its meeting in Sacramento today as part of its consent calendar. The register is administered by the National Park Service, and sites must have significant architectural or historic significance.
Two of the newly approved sites relate to the region’s railway history. The Southern Pacific Railroad Bayshore Roundhouse in Brisbane, a 1910 semi-circular brick building and one-time rail car turntable, once serviced and repaired steam-powered locomotives.
After World War II, steam was replaced by lower-maintenance diesel, making repair sites like this one were obsolete by the late 1950s, according to the commission report.
The roundhouse, now vacant and dilapidated, is the state’s last surviving brick roundhouse, according to the commission.
In San Francisco, a power facility and adjacent office building located in a San Francisco Municipal Railway maintenance yard were also approved for the register.
The Geneva Power House was built in 1903 to generate electricity for the city’s new streetcar system. The power house and an adjacent 1901 office building were deemed significant to the city’s early years of public transit, and have a design that pre-dates the 1906 earthquake. The structures at San Jose and Geneva avenues are the last two that remain from a once-extensive complex of brick buildings, and have been empty since the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
The office building was also the site of the 1917 carmen’s strike, according to the commission.
The architectural beauty of another San Francisco site, the Temple Sherith Israel at 2266 California St., earned it a place on the register. From its vantage point atop a small hill, the synagogue boasts a large dome, a mix of Beaux Arts-influenced Byzantine and Romanesque flourishes, and a high level of craftsmanship, according to the commission report.
During a shortage of functional courtrooms after the 1906 earthquake and fire, eight superior court judges and a law library moved in temporarily, according to news accounts of the era. A series of high-profile graft trials were held at the site.
Oakland’s newest historical site, the California Cotton Mill building, sits in the shadow of the Nimitz Freeway and houses a self-storage company. The large structure was once part of a large complex for the cotton manufacturing enterprise. The four-story 1917 brick warehouse harkens back to the days when both Oakland and California were transitioning from a mining economy to agriculture and eventually manufacturing, according to the commission’s report.
The mill closed in 1954, one year after the completion of the freeway, which bisected the property.
One additional site, Sacred Heart Church, at Fillmore and Fell streets in San Francisco, was slated for discussion, but the owner declined to list it on the register, according to Office of Historic Preservation spokesman William Burg.