article picture

Timothy Pflueger Gets a Street

by Susan Saperstein

Thanks to City Guide Therese Poletti, on December 16th the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, at their last meeting of the year, passed a resolution to rename the former Chelsea Place, a short alley behind 450 Sutter, Timothy Pflueger Place, honoring the city's great architect of the 20s, 30s, and 40s.

Therese brought the resolution to outgoing Board President Aaron Peskin, who reported that the resolution was passed in a unanimous vote. In fact, Supervisor Jake McGoldrick was so enthused about the proposal that he asked to be a co-sponsor.

Therese, author of the recently released book Art Deco San Francisco: The Architecture of Timothy Pflueger, became interested in Pflueger's work while researching and giving the City Guides Downtown Deco tour. She notes that she has been continually surprised at how many people in San Francisco are not very familiar with Pflueger, even though they continually go in and out of his many extant buildings, including 450 Sutter and the Castro Theatre.

Therese writes:

I guess I have become a sort of evangelist for Pflueger now. I even created a Timothy Pflueger Fan Club in Facebook. It’s still small, with only 37 members, but two members came on the Downtown Deco tour in January, which they learned about from one of my updates, so I think it’s helpful to City Guides as well.

The only street in San Francisco named for an architect, that I could find, is Daniel Burnham Court, and Burnham is not even a native of SF as Pflueger was. And the Burnham Plan for SF was scrapped after the quake and fire of ‘06.

I thought the alley behind 450 Sutter was appropriate because there are no businesses on Chelsea Place to be inconvenienced, and the alley goes directly into one of his masterful skyscrapers. Local architectural historian Gary Goss and I did a lot of research into the name Chelsea Place, and we could not find anyone in San Francisco with the name Chelsea at the time of the alley's creation in 1858 or 1859. The owners of 450 Sutter backed the idea, as did Masa's Restaurant (across the street on Bush), and so did the owner of the bar Chelsea Place.

Stay tuned for details on a future mini block party to be held when the new Plueger street sign is erected.

• 450 Sutter building, p. 5, (c) Tom Paiva Photography, Courtesy Princeton Architectural Press.

• Timothy Pflueger Place photo courtesy of Gail MacGowan.

article picture

Pflueger’s 450 Sutter building.

article picture

The 450 Sutter building rises at the end of the newly renamed Timothy Pflueger Place. Chelsea Place bar (at left) guards the alley’s entrance.

Send comments and questions to
Material of San Francisco City Guides. Please give credit to the author and SF City Guides if referenced or reproduced.