First Church Center in San Francisco

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Excerpt from Galen Pumphrey’s testimony:

Miss Kim had rented a large flat, 7 rooms, at 410 Cole Street in the Haight Ashbury district of San Francisco. At that time a working class neighborhood, in pretty decent shape. Later the neighborhood became famous as the Hippie and drug capitol of the country. It was also somewhere on Cole St. that the notorious Manson Family lived in 1967.

Neither Miss Kim nor George Norton knew anything about San Francisco, only that Pauline and Doris were there. They had a room and were working as waitresses to support themselves. Before George and Miss Kim left Oregon we bought a San Francisco newspaper and looked for a place to rent. Not knowing the first thing about the city, we found some in a suitable price range. When they arrived one of the flats we found in the paper in Oregon turned out to be just right, and they rented it.

Our first center in San Francisco was at 410 Cole St. The building was an old 4 story white frame building consisting of 6 or 7 flats, probably built in the early 1900s after the great quake. It was located on a corner on the south side of the panhandle of Golden Gate Park, in the Haight-Ashbury area.

The flat at 410 Cole St. was a walk up flat occupying the 3rd and 4th floor in that corner of the building. The entrance was atop a few worn marble stairs. Upon entering the door you were confronted with a long steep flight of stairs. The stairs and hallways were covered with Japanese straw matting, installed by some previous resident. At the top of the first flight of stairs was an awkward turn of wedge shaped steps and a shorter flight leading to the third floor. The stairs were good daily exercise, especially when packing up groceries and furniture.

The flat consisting of 9 stark white rooms verily heated by two small gas heaters. There was an old kitchen with a gas range and an antique sink and a pantry. Oh yes, I must not forget the classic water closet in this flat. It was one of the originals with the wooden water tank high on the wall. The bowl design was one that lost favor about the turn of the century, a design that is extinct today – with good reason.

At the time the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco was a well-kept, working middle class neighborhood with shops and stores along Haight street, a typical San Francisco neighborhood. The community was sprinkled with an occasional artist or beatnik type. This was the beatnik era, but they were mostly centered in the North Beach area of San Francisco.

The neighborhood was a mixture of races and nationalities living together–mostly white, many of recent European origin, some orientals, and a few blacks. No particular group seemed to be a majority. It was a quiet neighborhood and some of the residents had lived their entire lives in the neighborhood. At that time you would feel safe walking to the laundromat or back from a bus stop late at night.

On Sunday afternoons during football season we would return from witnessing at a church only to find there were no parking places. Keysar Stadium was where the San Francisco 49’s football team played their home games. I remember having to drive back from town and taking a bus home. Some of the more enterprising local citizens would stand by their car with a sign “move my car for $5.00.” Given the money they would drive off and let you have the parking place; park some place further away and either walk or take a bus back.

A few years later, the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood was to gain dubious fame as the hippie and Drug Mecca of the United States. Seeing the neighborhood on television during the hippie era, it was hardly recognizable. I wondered how the longtime residents survived the Hippie generation. I am sure some of them went through that period still living in the neighborhood. In later years it became an upbeat area with real estate values skyrocketing as the popularity of condominiums grew. Charles Manson later lived in our area at 636 Cole Street.

Our address

410 Cole Street, San Francisco, CA
37.7712023, -122.45052900000002

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