Homewood Terrace: A Closer Look

by Woody LaBounty

A closer look at an OpenSFHistory image.

In the early twentieth century, the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum at Divisadero and Hayes Streets had over 200 residents, and the aging building was not keeping up with the growing demands on the facility. Also, philosophies on the education and the institutional care of children in need had changed to what was called the “family” or “cottage” plan.

Homewood Terrace, 1941.
Kids playing in front of Cottage 21 in Homewood Terrace in 1941 (wnp14.10359, negative courtesy of a private collector)

This new idea from the East Coast did away with the large dormitory building that conjured workhouses from “Oliver Twist,” and replaced them with cottages that mimicked family homes. Each cottage housed a small group of children supervised by a “house mother.” Ideally, the cottages would be situated in country settings. As one writer explained, “a boy or girl must be indeed incorrigible who cannot find rest and sweetness in the call of a robin or savor of the new cut grass…”

Sold on the cottage plan, the trustees of the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum purchased thirteen acres of Adolph Sutro’s forest in the relatively pastoral Ingleside area along Ocean Avenue, roughly between today’s Keystone Way and Faxon Avenue.

The word “orphan” had become stigmatized, with connotations of destitution and unworthiness. It was also an inaccurate description of many of the children in the care of orphanages. Alongside children with deceased parents lived dependents of the state whose parents were unable or unwilling to care for them. There were also children requiring only a temporary supportive home in a time of family crisis or transition. So with the new facility came a new name: Homewood Terrace.

Homewood Terrace in 1925.
Peerless automobile parked in driveway of Homewood Terrace, 1925 (wnp15.657, glass plate negative courtesy of a private collector)

Homewood Terrace opened in 1921. A half-circle driveway led up from Ocean Avenue to what would become a campus of seventeen buildings on a tree-covered slope: nine residential cottages, an administration building, a gymnasium, a synagogue, a machinery shop, two superintendent residences, a small hospital, and a laundry.

Homewood Terrace from the air, 1920s. Ocean Avenue at bottom.
Homewood Terrace from the air, 1920s. Ocean Avenue at bottom. (WNP collection)

Each cottage housed twenty children—ten boys and ten girls ranging from toddlers to high school seniors—under the leadership of the cottage mother. In each cottage was a kitchen and small library. Each resident had his or her own locker, closet, and separate drawer space. The residents became part of the Ingleside neighborhood, attending nearby Farragut Elementary School, and later, Aptos Middle School. By 1926, over 320 different children had passed through the cottage life on Ocean Avenue. In the 1930s and 1940s, Homewood Terrace took in many children escaping from the Holocaust in Germany. Meanwhile, the forest around the campus disappeared under the carpet of new homes built for Mount Davidson Manor, Westwood Highlands, and Monterey Heights.

By the 1960s, the standards for residential care for children had changed again. In some ways the cottage model had proved a stepping stone to a more progressive foster home system. Instead of just simulating home and family life, boys and girls now lived it. In 1965, the last residents of Homewood Terrace were relocated to seven “real” houses in the Richmond District, and the organization was folded into today’s Jewish Family and Children’s Services agency.

The site became overgrown and its buildings decrepit in the years following the closing of Homewood Terrace. Various developers created schemes for nineteen-story towers and 300-unit apartment complexes. By the late 1970s, neighbors had become antsy for anything. Finally, the mixed-use Dorado Terrace development, a layer cake of stucco walls, utilitarian balconies, and retail storefronts, was constructed in 1981.

More information, images, and memories of Homewood Terrace are at outsidelands.org

Fourth of July, 1862: A Closer Look

by Woody LaBounty

A closer look at an OpenSFHistory image.

The lantern slide image below has been identified in different places with different descriptions. Some notations say Greenwich Street. Another calls it a mourning procession after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination (I suspect the top-hatted gentleman in the lower center may have sparked this idea, as the silhouette looks very Lincolnian.) Yet a third says it’s a Fourth of July parade. All that was certain was we were in North Beach with Russian Hill behind.

Filbert Street between Powell and Stockton, 1862.
Looking west on Filbert Street across Powell Street, July 4, 1862. Washington Square on the left (wnp13.010, lantern slide courtesy of a private collector)

With the help of a couple of other images, I know the where, the when, and the why. This is definitely Filbert Street looking west up across Powell Street on Independence Day, 1862. Today, St. Peter and Paul’s Church would be on one’s right with the green of the square on the left. Let’s take a closer look at the crowd:

Detail of wnp13.010
Detail of wnp13.010.

Plenty of flags and a regiment of marching men kicking up a cloud of dust. Two riders are entering the gate of Washington Square on the left, leading the parade. The Carleton Watkins stereoview image below pivots the view to the left as soldiers muster in the square. Watkins faced the corner of Union and Powell Streets with more of Russian Hill behind. The diagonal cut of Columbus Avenue that snips off the southwest corner of Washington Square is yet to come. Soldiers muster in Washington Square, July 4, 1862, and a crowd gathers outside the fence.

View of Washington Square on July 4, 1862. South summit of Russian Hill behind.
View of Washington Square on July 4, 1862. Union Street on left. South summit of Russian Hill behind. (Scan of a stereoview card, courtesy of a private collector.)

The celebration of the United States of America’s independence started early on July 4, 1862, as the San Francisco Bulletin reported:

“The booming of cannon and the ringing of pretty nigh all the bells in town, awoke the 80,000 denizens of the city from their sleep and told them that the sun, that was to shine so hotly on the Fourth, had arisen. These were joyful sounds to many, but ‘death’ to late sleepers.”

The Civil War raged in the east and San Francisco determined to show its loyalty to the Union. An estimated 36,000 flags hung out windows from the homes, apartments, mercantile houses, banks, and hotels across the city. The British Consulate flew the Union Jack, which the Bulletin called a “compliment to the day upon which, near upon 100 years ago, it was summarily ejected from so vast a domain.”

The city also wanted to show it was willing and ready to fight. At 9:00 a.m., Brigadier General George S. Wright, in command of the Department of the Pacific, reviewed companies of regular and volunteer soldiers—infantry, artillery, and cavalry—in Washington Square. Wright rode a white charger and entered with Major General Allen. In our image, could the two men entering the square, one on a white horse, be the generals?

After exercises, review, and some rifle salutes, the soldiers led the parade out of the square at 11:00 a.m. and through the city, looping around Mission Street and returning to festivities at the Metropolitan Theater on Montgomery Street.

The parade wasn’t just for the military. Marching bands, drum corps, school children, fire engine companies, Sons of the Emerald Island, Garibaldians, the Scandinavian Society, stevedores, riggers, teamsters, and draymen all turned out with floats, wagons, and even a replica of the Union iron-clad steamship, the Monitor.

The Butchers Association stole the show. As the Daily Alta described them: “First came one hundred on horseback, in uniform—that is, white aprons and check sleeves—and followed by six yoke of fat cattle attended by seven vaqueros in full costume. Then came the slaughterers, sixteen strong on foot, armed with axes and cleavers…”

Forty carts laden with pork joints, mutton, and sides of beef on display came behind. One of the carts had emblazoned on its side: “Pure Beef for friends of the Union—the points of our knives for its foes.”


1. “Fourth of July,” San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin, July 5, 1862, pg. 1.
2. “Celebration of the Fourth,” Daly Alta California, July 6, 1862, pg. 1.

Another view of Washington Square, July 4, 1862
Another view of the day across Washington Square to Union Street and Nob Hill behind. (Scan from a copy print, courtesy of a private collector.)