Thursday, November 11, 2010

San Francisco Veterans Memorial

The San Francisco War Memorial Opera House and the Veterans Building next door on Van Ness Avenue were built with municipal bonds sold in the 1920s, using a memorial to the dead and veteran survivors of World War One as the selling point.

The two buildings were completed in 1932, but other than their names, no actual memorial was ever built. The opera house is still an opera house and the Veterans Building was mostly taken over by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for a good part of its history, with American Legion offices on the first floor.

So a group of powerful movers and shakers in San Francisco have decided to finally fulfill the promise of a memorial and have started a $2 million commissioning process that starts with a competition. The three finalist teams were announced Wednesday at noon, and are in the back in the above photo, behind (left to right) Luis Cancel, Nancy Bechtle, Charlotte Schultz, and retired MajGen J. Michael Myatt.

The memorial is slated to be set in the courtyard between the two buildings, though according to the project website (click here), "No element of the design will restrict the view of City Hall from the western end of the War Memorial Court."

World War One was the great calamity of modern times in the Western world, and its ripples are still being felt, in Iraq and Afghanistan, and above all in the destruction of a whole generation.

The crowd assembled for the ceremony was quite a mixed bag, from the gay Alexander Hamilton American Legion post (above)... Craigslist's Craig Newmark (above left), who has signed on as an adviser for the project... luxury clothing retailer Wilkes Bashford (above) who is co-chair of the working committee.

Just before Bashford was interviewed by the very blonde Don Sanchez, a woman gave him a package which he held behind his back during the interrogation, and it was funny seeing the large, flamboyant signature of Willie Brown. I'm surprised he wasn't at the event in person, though you could at least say he was there in spirit.

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