This is where the plot
We have very few photographs showing the interior of the 1896-1907
But why? Cameras were
in wide use at that period. Interior photos were not uncommon. So why so few photographs of a place visited by presidents
and kings? Was there a "No Photography" rule to
boost postcard sales? Whatever the reason, we know almost nothing about
the interior beyond the blueprint
labels. So if anyone knows of other interior photographs,
please step forward...
ROOSEVELT BANQUET SETTING, MAY 13, 1903 - NOTE PORTRAIT THROUGH BUNTING"
creator of the 3D model gives his analysis of
the above photo as follows...
It was taken on the
third floor porch, south side, outside the main dining room. The
window on the left side of the jpg was covered for the photograph to
keep the direct sun out of the camera. The window just to the right
of the covered one was not covered and is the bright spot over the
'secret service men'. The bright window is facing west.
Two new presumed interior photographs, discovered by Fred
Welte catalog, 1919...
Fred describes his research...
I noted the absence of Cliff House interior views, just one in
the period prior to the 1907 fire. There is mention on your website
of the 1905 addition of a Welte orchestrion to the Cliff House (see
below), from the San Francisco Call newspaper. The price given,
$10,000, is likely accurate, or close to the real expense. A Style
10 Welte Concert Orchestrion had a list price of $10,000 in the
This morning, I was reminded by the expert in all matters
relevant to Welte orchestrions, Durward R. Center, that there's a
view of the Welte instrument in the Cliff House Dining Room.
That set me on a search and I discovered a second view in an M.
Welte & Sons, Inc. catalogue sent out in 1919. The firm's address on
the catalogue was listed first in 1918, likely making it no earlier
than 1917. Despite that date, the volume contains many vintage views
of Welte installations dating back much earlier. Thus, I would offer
that the attached view could be the 1905 Sutro Welte; and especially
so if there's no mention of another Welte in the replacement
structure. There are peculiarities in both the instrument case and
the room decorative detailing that align the two images together. I
have no reason to doubt the Welte identification as Sutro's, so this
second image must also be the same installation.
As Durward told me, this is a very large Welte, perhaps from the
largest class of such devices, Concert Orchestrions Nos. 8 to 10,
playing the broadest of their rolls, the 120-hole. None in this
category are known to exist today, the largest being a single No. 7
Concert Orchestrion in Romania. The largest in the USA are No. 6s
and a No. 5; these all play the 75-hole rolls. The music from all of
them is magnificent. The only instrument playing the largest Welte
rolls, from a No. 10, is a pipe organ in England. Here is a link to
see and hear it playing the 120-hole No. 10 Concert Orchestrion
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAcvwKhixEg; and then the larger
150-hole organ rolls.
There's an excellent video of Durward and that features his
philosophy and his magnificent Style No. 5. I think you will enjoy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZphjMcGeQQ Durward restored the
Welte Concert Orchestrion for the Henry Clay Frick Mansion in
Pittsburgh, PA and recently the smaller Welte Cottage Orchestrion
for the Zaharakos Ice Cream Parlor in Richmond, IN. He has done many
others for private collectors.
Fred found this photograph based on
this 1905 newspaper article
referencing a musical instrument called the Orchestrion...
San Francisco Call, Saturday, August 26, 1905
Another very similar photo showing a
close-up of the same area...
LYON & HEALY, CHICAGO, ILL.
Pneumatic Concert Orchestrions
With Perforated Paper Rolls
Wonderful Imitations of Orchestras Used with Great Success in
Restaurants, Cafes, Candy Kitchens, Etc.
Image from 1908 Lyon & Healy catalog loaned to Q. David Bowers and
Arthur A. Reblitz by Kenneth Goldman.
The prior image may
be reversed (difficult to tell).
Note: the "Welte &
Sons" logo in the above image proves it to be un-mirrored.
Possible placement in Cliff House
My conclusion is that both of the
photographs are likely of the 1896-1907 Cliff House, regardless of
chairs match those in the original Roosevelt Banquet photo.
- The period looks right.
- It appears to generally fit into the blueprints,
John Hall's 3D model.
- And possibly most important, the direct mention of the
Orchestrion in the 1905 newspaper clipping.
So what became of the Orchestrion? Fred
Dahlinger provides further insight...
The big 1905 Welte apparently escaped the flames of September 7,
1907 per this report:
Music Trade Review, July 20, 1907, page 24 "The $20,000 Welte
Orchestrion that has been one of the attractions at the Cliff House
in San Francisco, has been loaned by the management of that resort
to the proprietors of the Casino at Santa Cruz, Cal. "
The Casino still stands at Santa Cruz, but the company files have no
reference to the large Welte. There was a much smaller Welte unit
in their skating rink, but it has also disappeared without a trace.
- Fred Dahlinger
article suggests the orchestrion was destroyed in 1908:
Oakland Tribune - Jul 5, 1908
Not directly related, but one further reference to
musical instruments at the Cliff House...
Music Trade Review - July 20 1907, page 24
San Francisco Call - 27 Sept 1903
Interior photo - San Francisco
Call, May 16 1901
For full article, including balcony photos:
One non-photographic clue to
the interior involves possible murals painted by an artist named Gustav
Ferdenano Dietz. Read more here.
The following photographs are
interior views of the Cliff House from other periods...
INSIDE THE CLIFF HOUSE"
This image is from
Marilyn Blaisdell's book.
above image is on page 31 of Marilyn's book, it likely belongs a few
pages earlier chronologically as it is more likely a photo of the
John Hall gives solid evidence
as to why the above photo is NOT of the 1896 structure...
I am 99.999% positive that the photo is
not the 1896 Cliff House. Here is my reasoning including
photos and diagrams.
There are a couple of things in the photo that demonstrate my point.
The light shining through the windows is at such an angle that the
windows must be along an outside wall. See
photo 1. The 1896 Cliff
House "Porch" would not allow direct sunlight intrusion to the room
except on the west wall with the sun at a very low angle. In
addition, count the windows from the sunlight on the floor. There
are 3 pairs of windows along the wall. This matches with the paired
windows along the south side of the Second Cliff House. See
photo 2. Next look at the
woodwork in the room. The style of the wood work looks earlier than
1896 to me. The interior doors do not have the same style as the
doors on the 1986 Cliff House
plans. The final point is the room itself with the placement of
doors, windows, and fireplace. See
photo 3 of the chimney
placement in the Second Cliff House. This room doesn't match any
room in the floor plans of the 1896 Cliff House. The closest room to
this was the third floor (street level) bar room where the fireplace
and windows were on the same wall. There are other minor things that
suggest an earlier date. These include the elaborate ceiling
painting, and kerosene chandeliers both out of date by 1896.
South Sea Islanders
The above image has been attributed to the 1896-1907 Cliff House,
but almost certainly depicts the
earlier Cliff House structure, specifically 1888.
Per John Hall (6/30/2014): "The
“interior” photo is on the balcony of the pre 1894 Cliff House. Note
the arches along the back of the below photo. They match the
arches on the left hand side of the above photo."
Per Frank Sternad (6/30/2014): "The below 1888 news
items likely explain the origin of the natives, three men and three
women, rescued by a British transport, wrecked at San Pedro, then
sent to SF. The canoe ride exceeded their wildest dreams. Blaisdell
credits the photo to Archibald J. McDonald which may or may not
coincide with the "MD" at lower left. McDonald was active in SF in
1888 9 26, Daily Alta California
1888 10 13, Los Angeles Daily Herald
Later Cliff House
A very nice interior shot
courtesy of POOA of the later
If anyone can identify the performers, I would love to know...
From Marilyn Blaisdell's
book, taken in Dec 8,1916.
The dancer is Irene Lacour, also known as Ingebor Lacour and Ingeborg
Lacour-Torrup (ID thanks to John Martini)
Note circled ornamentation in background, also
visible on the previous photo.