St. Mary’s Park in Sunday’s New York Times

St. Mary's

In case you missed it, there was a spiffy little overview article in yesterday’s print edition of the New York Times about St. Mary’s Park, the cute micro-‘hood in the southwest corner of Bernal Heights.

A sampler:

St. Mary’s College of California opened here in 1863, offering Catholic-based education far from downtown San Francisco temptations. In 1889, fog and wind prompted its relocation to Oakland, and in 1928 a move farther east took the college to its current home in Moraga.

After the college left San Francisco, some of the land it had been on was farmed. In the 1920s, the city’s Roman Catholic archdiocese subdivided and sold some of the property. Mark Daniels, an architect, planned the subdivision’s trademark shape, a nod to an original college church bell. Mr. Daniels’s influence can also be seen in many other local neighborhoods, like St. Francis Wood, Sea Cliff and Forest Hill.

Many of the red-tiled-roof homes in St. Mary’s Park are occupied by grown children of the first owners, and several centenarians are in residence. The original Irish and Italian community has diversified: Latinos and African-Americans have moved in. Newer residents include a lesbian rabbi.

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11 thoughts on “St. Mary’s Park in Sunday’s New York Times

  1. Pingback: Sad: Bizarre Homicide On Justin Drive in St. Mary’s | Bernalwood

  2. I’ve always thought of SMP as its own neighborhood, but I can live with it being in Bernal Heights. Perhaps as a Grand Duchy or something?

    Anyway, my favorite depiction of it is in a painting by Robert Bechtle, called “Frisco Nova”, and permanently exhibited at SFO under the title “San Francisco Nova.”

  3. It’s hard to sing the praises of St Mary’s Park (and there are so many! I love walking my dog through there) in the wake very sad crime on Justin, so I’ll just mention that the just-now-changing homogeneity of the neighborhood may have had something to do with the strict and racist rules that used to be in place for owning property there. I wish I knew more details as it seems an interesting part of SF history; I’m basing this on some original deed documents my father at a house there. I’d love to learn more if anyone’s familiar!

    • Restricting home sales to Caucasians only was pretty common in California at one time, especially in planned developments like St. Mary’s Park, or Parkmerced, or even most of the Sunset here in San Francisco. Between 1948 and 1953, such restrictions were declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, so they could not be enforced but they still existed in the deeds.

      In 1999, a California law was passed allowing the elimination , upon request, of the discriminatory language in deed documents.

      Here’s a place to read up on racially restrictive covenants:

  4. Pingback: More Bernal Love in the New York Times | Bernalwood

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