daughter, Dr. Emma Merritt, rebuilt the Cliff House to a more modest
scale, a neo-classical design by the Reid Brothers, architects of the
July 2 1909
Analysis by John Martini, 8/6/2013
"The above photo was taken shortly after the building was
completed -- definitely before the end of 1912. When the third Cliff
House opened in 1909 it didn't have any of the exterior light
fixtures shown in this photo. Here's a similar view (right) from the
April 1910 "Estate of Adolph Sutro" showing the light-less building.
Another clue can be seen below in a photo collection titled "Album
from 1912-1913," which has dated snapshots of the Cliff House
showing the lights in place in November 1912."
Photo: Sutro Estate 1910, Cliff House (GOGA 18443)
From ebay seller: "The only info I have in the entire book was one
postcard addressed to a man named Junk in Salem Oregon. Also at
bottom of one of the photos of the engineer was the name Junk and
the dates of album were 1899-1909. The man attended Stanford and
Berkeley and went to work as an engineer at the Standard Mine in
Quartzburg where he was the main engineer and did the drawings for
all the buildings made on the site. It was a cobalt mine in Clark
Sand Sculptures, 1911
click here for more information
Sculptor on the Ocean Beach Makes
Artistic Images Out of Wet Sand
A sculptor with an artistic soul and a facile
hand astonished visitors to the beach yesterday
afternoon by modeling various figures and portraits in
the wet sand on the beach just south of the Cliff House.
The largest and most remarkable was a heroic sized
figure of a woman lying on her back and clasping a
chubby infant to her breast. It was labeled "Cast Up By
the Waves." The portraits were those of Longfellow,
General Grant, President Taft and other notable men.
The boys and girls who delight in
making mud pies or sand pies on the beach were
speechless with astonishment and asked the man to show
them how to make such nice things.
-- SF Chronicle, December 6, 1909, pg 14
Special thanks to Woody LaBounty of
the above research
"The soldier in the picture does appear to be black. The uniform that he is
wearing is a Cavalry Mounted Dress Uniform prescribed for an enlisted man from
the period 1913. It is a dress uniform. His rank is that of a SGT. The service
stripes are the new 3/8 inch wide type. This is the dress uniform that would
have been worn by American Cavalry just prior to WW1. Example can be found in
the Horse Soldier Vol. 3, 1776-1943 page 154. As far as him being a Buffalo
Soldier, all African-American soldiers who served in segregated units with white
officers were considered Buffalo Soldiers."
John Martini analysis (4/14/09): "A U.S. Army soldier
in full dress uniform. Probably from the Presidio. It's hard to read
the insignia but he appears to be wearing corporal's stripes. Also,
the light colored bands on his hat and sleeves might have been
yellow, which is the color associated with Cavalry troops.
(Artillerymen wore red trim and Infantry soldiers wore blue, both of
which would have photographed darker.)"
analysis: There seems to be a special occasion about to
start there, as they are decorating the teahouse with American
flags. My estimation of date for this photo is February or March
1915 - possibly opening day of ppie?
This photo shows a unique view of the Cliff House porch. The reverse
contains not just the exact date, but also time of day.
Reverse: "Cliff House San Francisco, 12 oclock noon, Wednesday August 11th 1915"
(scan of reverse)
Courtesy of Frank Mitchell
"Cliff House, Seal Rocks, San Francisco Calif, Summer 1915
14 Photogravure from book "San Francisco" Published and copyright
by Cardinell-Vincent Co, 579 Market Street, San Francisco. The Albertype Co,
Courtesy photo collection
of Jan Weijers, Holland
"Artopho Co, 97"
A Day at the Beach, October 1911
Story by Diana (Kirchen) Kelly
"Everyone is in the third row -- standing are Jim
Kirchen and his son Ben wearing a light colored hat, and John
Francis Kirchen next to Ben wearing a dark hat. Seated are
Susan Kirchen (wife of Jim - wearing dark hat and glasses) and next
to Susan is Uncle John Kirchen, wearing a stiff hat (not sure who
the man is on the end of the 3rd row, closest to the camera -- not
part of the Kirchen family as far as I know.)"
here for reverse)
"In the photo of the picnic, John Francis
Kirchen is in front on the right, next to his mother, Kate Kirchen
(Kate wearing a big white hat). The twins are on a blanket in the
middle. My granddad, young Ben Kirchen is on the far left, partially
cut off - sitting next to his parents Jim and Susan Kirchen." - Diana Kelly
here for reverse)
"We also went to the ocean and
walked in the sand, took our lunch along and sat on the beach to
eat. We went to the Golden Gate Park on another occasion.
I remember taking the twins along when we went to the beach. I
have a picture taken at the beach, the twins are on a blanket
enjoying themselves while the rest of us are enjoying a good lunch.
We also went on a sightseeing tour in a big open air bus, and I have
a picture of it." -- Ben Kirchen Autobiography,
These were taken in October 1911, but I don't have the exact date.
My great-grandfather, John Peter "Jim" Kirchen was a farmer in
Juniata, Adams County, Nebraska. He had a younger half-brother
living in San Francisco, John Joseph Kirchen. I'll refer to him as
"Uncle John" -- he was my granddad's uncle. Uncle John had
moved to San Francisco as a young single man around 1904. He
worked as a mechanic and engineer on cars and other machines.
He was living in San Francisco at the time of the 1906 earthquake,
and ended up in a tent city. This is where he met his future
wife - Catherine "Kate" Lyng. They married in San Francisco on July
11, 1906, just a few months after the earthquake in April.
They had four children, three of whom are in the photo of the picnic
(the youngest wasn't born yet).
Jim Kirchen was close to his younger half-brother, John, and
after the harvest in October 1911 he decided to take his wife and
young son, Ben Kirchen, on a trip to San Francisco to visit John and
his family. My granddad Ben Kirchen was born in 1904, so he
was seven years old in 1911. He skipped a few weeks of school
to make this trip. When Ben wrote his autobiography at age 90,
he remembered everything about his trip to California. He passed
away in 2005 at the age of 101.
Diana Kelly, Nov 13 2016
This view was likely taken within a few years of the 'new' Cliff
House opening. The clues are the absence of buildings on the
Terrace, the "Admission to Terrace 10 cents" sign, the light globes,
and the rustic wood benches. All these features changed in the
late 1910's when buildings began to appear on the terrace.
BTW, 10 cents for the pleasure of visiting the Terrace was a lot of
money for the time. In today's dollars it translates to about
$2.00. -- J Martini