SAN FRANCISCO OBSERVER - VOL. V, No. 39, January, 1998


by Jim Nawrocki

Built in 1894 by Carmel Fallon, granddaughter of Juan Ysidro Castro (governor of California under Mexican rule), the Fallon building has always served as a commercial area downstairs and a residential area upstairs, according to the architectural historian Tim Kelley.

It was built to house Fallon and her daughter Anita, both of whom were divorcees. Anita Fallon worked as an actress in the old Alcazar Theatre, and her mother owned the Allen Hotel downtown.

In the Gay 90's an adult-size tricycle manufacturer and a "painless dentist and surgeon" inhabited the ower floors. The storefront on the west side of the building has remained unchanged since 1894, one of the only two such storefronts in the city.

"It's not run of the mill," Kelley said. "The handling of the ornamentation is very nice, restrained and elegant."

The building remained in the Fallon family until the 1930's, and in modern times it ended up in the hands of Ray Hoffman, who used it primarily as a profitable billboard mount adjacent to the Center Freeway. Despite its age and some neglect, Kelley said, the Fallon building is in surprisingly good shape underneath the dirt and grime.

"The building itself is a perfect marker (denoting the extent of the 1906 fire)" said Kelley.

"It represents a type of building that used to line all of Market Street. The rest of them were just wiped out. It's more or less happenstance that the fire stopped there."

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