The San Francisco’s Cliff house has been rebuilt five times since its first construction for different reasons, such as remolding or repairing. It was first built in 1858 when an American Businessman Samuel Brannan paid $1500 for lumber salvaged from a ship that foundered on the rocky shore’s basalt cliffs near Seal Rocks. It was leased to Captain Junius G. Foster, and it was a perfect destination for picnics and outings.
In 1883, German-American engineer Adolph Sutro bought the cliff house. After a few years, the Cliff House was severely damaged by a dynamite explosion when the schooner, Parallel, ran aground. The house was repaired, but it destroyed again by fire on Christmas night 1894 due to a defective flue. Sutro rebuilt the house and turned into a seven-story mansion in Victorian style, an elaborately decorated structure dubbed the “Gingerbread House.” The Cliff House survived the 1906 earthquake but burned to the ground after a year.
After the fire, Sutro’s daughter, Dr. Emma Merritt, rebuilt the house and turned it into a neo-classical style restaurant. In 1937, George and Leo Whitney purchased the Cliff House. National Park Service acquired the Cliff house in 1997. And after that, it has been remodeled several times. In 2003, the house was restored to its 1909 appearance.
Today it attracts thousands of visitors each month with its amazing two-story dining rooms surrounded by an ocean. The ceiling of steel beams recalls the Sutro Baths architecture, establishing a connection between the past and the present
Here below are some historical photos of San Francisco’s historical Cliff House over the years.