The Family (club)

Coordinates: 37°47′23.6″N 122°24′32.5″W / 37.789889°N 122.409028°W / 37.789889; -122.409028
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The Family
Formation1901; 122 years ago (1901)
TypePrivate Men's Social Club
PurposeArts, politics, business
  • San Francisco, California
  • Woodside, California

The Family is a private club in San Francisco, California, formed in 1902 by newspapermen who in protest, left the Bohemian Club due to censorship. The club maintains a clubhouse in San Francisco, as well as rural property 35 miles to the south in Woodside. The Family is an exclusive, invitation-only, all-male club where the new members are "Babies", regular members are "Children" and the club president is the "Father".


The Family conducts periodic social events among the redwood and oak trees and open meadows at its rural property on the San Francisco peninsula. The Family Farm entrance is along Portola Road in Woodside.

Among other charitable activities, The Family sponsors a hospital in Guatemala along with volunteer participation from many members.[1] Club rules forbid the use of its facilities or services for the purposes of trade or business. Each member must certify that he will not deduct any part of club payments as business expenses for federal or state income tax purposes. This practice allows for membership to step away from business entirely and instead pursue friendships and the arts.


The Family Club[edit]

The Family Club was formed in 1901 after Ambrose Bierce wrote a poem that seemed to predict President William McKinley's death by an assassin's bullet. The Hearst chain of newspapers including the "San Francisco Examiner" and others owned by William Randolph Hearst published the poem, and some of the Bohemian Club members took offense. When McKinley was assassinated shortly thereafter, opponents of Hearst created a fervor over the poem's publication and banned Hearst newspapers from the premises. A group of 14 reporters, editors, and other Hearst newsmen, in the spirit of true Bohemians and asserting freedom of the press, resigned in protest to the censorship, formed their own club, and called it "The Family".[2]

Early public activities by the club included the sponsoring of a horse race called the "Family Club Handicap" held in Oakland in 1904. A racehorse named "Fossil" took first place, receiving a silver cup from the Family as well as US$1,000 from the California Jockey Club.[3]

The Family clubhouse was originally located at 228 Post Street, but the building was lost two days after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake in the subsequent calamitous fire, though not before serving as a temporary rest station and meal place for earthquake victims such as the bereft Conreid Metropolitan Opera Company.[4] The club rebuilt at the corner of Powell and Bush Streets, and still conducts meetings at this site two blocks from the peak of Nob Hill.

The Family's clubhouse has served as a venue for musical events such as an annual benefit for San Francisco Sinfonietta[5] as well as black-tie dinner lectures by various experts and personages such as Stanlee Gatti speaking to benefit horticultural programs[6] and Charles M. Schulz appearing to promote the Cartoon Art Museum.[7]

The Family Farm[edit]

In 1909, Family club members decided upon the Woodside location for their rural getaways. While summering there in 1912, club members of a variety of religious backgrounds including Judaism, Protestantism and Catholicism pooled their resources to build a Catholic church in nearby Portola Valley: Our Lady of the Wayside Church. Architect member James R. Miller assigned the design of the church to a promising young draftsman at his firm, Timothy L. Pflueger. This was Pflueger's first architectural commission, and was the start of his interaction with The Family. Pflueger would soon join The Family to become a member in good standing,[2] and ultimately designed "The Tavern" at the Family Farm as an indoor performance venue, and a new interior for the City Home clubhouse, both being still in use today.

The annual "Flight Play", as well as a number of other stage and musical performances, are written and performed by club members. Plays aren't published or performed outside of the club, and all original written materials are retained as the sole property of the club.[8] One handwritten musical score, Thine Enemy, composed by Meredith Willson for the 1937 Flight Play 20 years before The Music Man was staged on Broadway, will be donated by The Family to a museum in the composer's birthplace, Mason City, Iowa.[9]

Artists Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco were guests of architect Timothy Pflueger's at The Family Farm in 1930. The two leftist Mexican muralists argued forcefully with one another about art during one visit.[10]

Notable members[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Lara, Adair (July 18, 2004). "The Chosen Few: S.F.'s exclusive clubs carry on traditions of fellowship, culture -- and discrimination". SFGate. Retrieved October 26, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c Poletti, Therese; Tom Paiva (2008). Art Deco San Francisco: The Architecture of Timothy Pflueger. Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 978-1-56898-756-9.
  3. ^ "Fossil Won Family Club Handicap". December 11, 1904. Retrieved August 29, 2019 – via
  4. ^ "Story of the San Francisco Earthquake and Conflagration As Far As It Affected the Conreid Metropolitan Opera Company, April 18th, 19th, and 20th, 1906". Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  5. ^ "SF Sinfonietta. Events calendar". Archived from the original on 2008-10-23. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  6. ^ Bigelow, Catherine (October 22, 2006). "BENEFITS / Elton John to rock first Bridge School gala". SFGate. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  7. ^ "Animation World Network. Chow Down With Charles M. Schulz. July 12, 1996". Archived from the original on June 27, 2007. Retrieved October 10, 2008.
  8. ^ American Association for the Advancement of Science, Pacific Coast Committee (1915). Nature and Science on the Pacific Coast. P. Elder. p. 258.
  9. ^ Globe Gazette, February 17, 2007. John Skipper, " 'The Family' plans to bring original Willson score home." Retrieved on August 15, 2009.
  10. ^ a b "Oral history interview with John Emmett Gerrity, 1965 Jan. 20". Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  11. ^ a b c "San Francisco Genealogy - The Family Club, 1905 Officers & Members". Retrieved April 18, 2022.
  12. ^ "COLBERT COLDWELL". Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  13. ^ "Berkeley Alumni. California magazine, March/April 2007. Sather Gate. Keeping in Touch. 1940". Archived from the original on 2007-09-19. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  14. ^ "ArchitectDB. Clarence Mayhew". Archived from the original on April 14, 2020. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  15. ^ Timothy Pflueger letters. Undated, received from Diego Rivera.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "Antonio SOTOMAYOR (1904-1985) - Biography". Retrieved 2020-10-30.
  17. ^ "Sterling a poet? Read wife's charges in divorce plea." San Francisco Call, December 16, 1913. Part 2, page 9.
  18. ^ "Thelen LLP, an International Law Firm". January 20, 2009. Archived from the original on January 20, 2009. Retrieved August 29, 2019.
  19. ^ "Charles C. Moore albums of Panama Pacific International Exposition views, v. 2". Retrieved August 29, 2019.

37°47′23.6″N 122°24′32.5″W / 37.789889°N 122.409028°W / 37.789889; -122.409028