Phelan Building

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Phelan Building
Phelan Building in San Francisco.JPG
A view of the Phelan Building from the Central Tower, 2014
Phelan Bldg. is located in San Francisco County
Phelan Bldg.
Phelan Bldg.
Phelan Bldg. is located in California
Phelan Bldg.
Phelan Bldg.
Phelan Bldg. is located in the US
Phelan Bldg.
Phelan Bldg.
Location within San Francisco County
General information
Type Commercial offices
Retail space
Location 760 Market Street
San Francisco, California
Coordinates 37°47′12″N 122°24′20″W / 37.7865828°N 122.4055023°W / 37.7865828; -122.4055023Coordinates: 37°47′12″N 122°24′20″W / 37.7865828°N 122.4055023°W / 37.7865828; -122.4055023
Groundbreaking October 7, 1907
Completed 1908
Technical details
Floor count 11
Floor area 31,000 sq ft (2,900 m2)
Lifts/elevators 9
Design and construction
Architect William Curlett
Developer James D. Phelan
Designated 1982[1]
Reference no. 156

The Phelan Building is an 11-story office building in the downtown shopping district of San Francisco, California. It has a triangular shape reminiscent of the Flatiron Building, with its tip at the meeting point of Market Street, O’Farrell Street, and Grant Ave. It is a San Francisco Designated Landmark.

The building was designed by William Curlett and built in 1908 by James D. Phelan on the place of the first, original Phelan Building, damaged by the 1906 earthquake and fire.

The original Phelan Building[edit]

The first Phelan Building was constructed in 1881 by James Phelan, the father of James D. Phelan. It was a 6-story, bay-windowed, mansard-roofed flatiron.[3]

Despite being advertised to be “thoroughly fire and earthquake proof”,[4] the building was badly damaged in the 1906 post-earthquake fire, and its ruins were subsequently dynamited on April 20, 1906.[5]

The second Phelan Building[edit]

The work of the new Phelan Building started on October 7, 1907 and was finished on September 1, 1908 for stores and the first day of 1909 for offices.[6] It was one of the earliest office buildings to be rebuilt after the earthquake.

The building exterior features metal windows and is clad in cream glazed terra-cotta. The original steel structure was designed to accommodate 13 floors; eventually eleven were completed.[7]

At its opening, the building featured an assembly hall on the 11th floor, arcade stores on the second floor, and a basement café.[6]

For many decades, the Phelan Building was a de facto center for jewelry, hosting dozens of jewelers and a jewelry school.[8]

The penthouse[edit]

An unusual feature of the building is a small penthouse. Originally adorned by a rooftop garden, it was used by James D. Phelan to entertain dignitaries. It has later served as a photography studio in the 1960s,[9] and was abandoned some time in the 1980s.

Major tenants[edit]


  1. ^ "City of San Francisco Designated Landmarks". City of San Francisco. Retrieved 2012-10-21. 
  2. ^ Phelan Building at Emporis
  3. ^ "The Phelan Building History". Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  4. ^ Phelan Building advertisement, Fraternal Record, July 24, 1886 
  5. ^ "1906 Earthquake: Fire Fighting - Presidio of San Francisco (U.S. National Park Service)". Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  6. ^ a b Phelan Building: An Entirely New Modern Class “A” Office Building and a San Francisco Landmark (brochure), 1908 
  7. ^ Huge Phelan Building already is a landmark, San Francisco Call, December 29, 1907, p. 40 
  8. ^ "The Phelan Building". Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  9. ^ Seidkin, Phyllis (August 25, 1963), High Life at O’Farrell and Market, The San Francisco Examiner, Pictorial Living, p. 10 
  10. ^ a b
  11. ^
  12. ^ "Thor Equities Lands Evan Williams' Obvious Corp. for 75k Square Feet... -- SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --". Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  13. ^

External links[edit]