The Women’s Building

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One of my favorite places in San Francisco’s Mission District is The Women’s Building (known in Spanish as Edificio de Mujeres). I love its bright colors. I love the mural painted upon it showing strong and talented women from a variety of cultures. I love that it’s a community center owned by women.

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I don’t remember if I visited The Women’s Building on my first trip to San Francisco or if I discovered it later. I do know I was glad to see it down 18th Street on the recent autumn morning I explored Valencia Street.  (The Women’s Building is located at 3543 18th Street.) After eating a delicious vegetarian burrito at Taqueria El Buen Sabor (699 Valencia Street), I strolled over to The Women’s Building. img_7302

According to http://womensbuilding.org/about/mission-history/,

In 1971, a group of visionary women founded San Francisco’s Women’s Centers to incubate emerging Bay Area women’s projects. Having outgrown their tiny office on Brady Street, the group bought Dovre Hall in 1979, a former Sons of Norway meeting hall and neighborhood bar. The women transformed the four-story building into the first woman-owned and operated community center in the country: The Women’s Building.

Fifteen years later in 1984, seven muralists created one of the largest murals in San Francisco: MaestraPeace Mural. This magnificent piece of public art, which covers two sides of our building and reaches five stories high, depicts the power and contributions of women throughout history and the world.

img_7299In 1999, TWB underwent an extensive renovation and seismic retrofitting, reopening in September 2000.

The Women’s Building is a women-led community space that advocates self-determination, gender equality and social justice.

Each year we welcome over 25,000 women and their families, connecting them with social services, community involvement opportunities, the arts, wellness and educational events.

According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Women%27s_Building,

The structure was built in 1910 and was originally known as Turn Hall because it was part of the Turnverein exercise movement.[2]

In the first year of operation, the Women’s Building was targeted by two attacks: an arson fire that caused $50,000 worth of damage,[4] and a pipe bomb set off on the front steps of the building.[5]

In 1997, the Women’s Building underwent a major renovation prompted by mandatory seismic img_7301retrofitting. In the course of that effort, it evicted the Dovre Club, a bar that had been in the corner of the building on 18th and Lapidge Streets since 1979.[6] The original owner of that bar had an oral agreement with the Women’s Center that the bar could stay in place during his lifetime; after his death in 1997, the bar made an effort to stay in place but ultimately relocated.[4]

I think if I lived in San Francisco, I would utilize the services offered in The Women’s Building. However, since I’m only a visitor, what I like best about the building is the mural.

The Women’s Building website (http://womensbuilding.org/the-mural/) says,

MaestraPeace Mural was painted in 1994 by a “Who’s Who” of Bay Area muralists: Juana Alicia, Miranda Bergman, Edythe Boone, Susan Kelk Cervantes, Meera Desai, img_7306Yvonne Littleton and Irene Perez.

One of San Francisco’s largest and best known murals, MaestraPeace and serves as a visual testament to the courageous contributions of women through time and around the world.

The mural was fully cleaned and restored in 2012 by the original muralists with the assistance of a new generation of muralistas.

Wikipedia, on the aforementioned website, adds,

the mural… covers both the outside of The Women’s Building as well as the interior entrance hall and stairway.[7] It features images of feminine icons from history and fiction, and the names of more than 600 women written in calligraphy.[8] img_7309

I spent most of my visit to The Women’s Building trying to get decent photos of the fabulous mural. It wasn’t easy for me to capture such large expanses of wall with my little digital camera. To get a much better idea of how stunning the mural is, check out The Women’s Building website, or, even better, take a trip to San Francisco and see it in person.

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I took this photo of the front of The Women’s Building while standing across 18th Street.

I took all of the photos in this post.

 

4 Responses »

  1. Lovely murals! I wonder if women painted them? I hope so.

    “In the first year of operation, the Women’s Building was targeted by two attacks: an arson fire that caused $50,000 worth of damage, and a pipe bomb set off on the front steps of the building.”

    Some things are more disgusting than others. It makes you wonder what passes through some people’s tiny little brains… if they’ve got one.

    • Yes, the murals were painted by women. As I stated in the post, the murals were painted by Juana Alicia, Miranda Bergman, Edythe Boone, Susan Kelk Cervantes, Meera Desai, Yvonne Littleton and Irene Perez.

      Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Women%27s_Building) says, “Painted by seven women artists including, Juana Alicia, Miranda Bergman, Edythe Boone, Susan Kelk Cervantes (cofounder of Precita Eyes Muralists Association), Meera Desai, Yvonne Littleton and Irene Perez along with their helpers and volunteers in 1994, the mural titled MaestraPeace covers both the outside of The Women’s Building as well as the interior entrance hall and stairway.[7] “

  2. I lived right across the street from the Women’s building when I first moved to San Francisco, years ago. I’ve always loved it! Nice post and great shots of the beautiful artwork.

    • It must have been really cool to look outside every morning and see those great murals!

      Thanks for reading, and thanks for your kind words about this post.

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