Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Board President David Chiu today announced a $1.7 million fund to repair Coit Tower and restore the tower’s internal historic Works Progress Administration murals.
“I have directed the Recreation and Park Department and the Arts Commission to work with the Board of Supervisors to find ways to restore historic Coit Tower,” said Mayor Lee. “Together, we are building the momentum to further protect a treasured San Francisco landmark.”
“Protecting the future of Coit Tower is one of my top priorities, and I have been working with the Recreation and Park Department and the Arts Commission to identify the needs and to secure the funding for maintenance work on the building as well as mural restoration,” said Board President Chiu, whose Supervisor district includes the landmark. “Now, we can move forward on the improvements that this iconic piece of San Francisco’s skyline deserves.”
In addition to the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department’s earlier commitment of $250,000 of capital improvement funding, a $1.45 million fund from 2004 Lease Revenue Bonds will be used. The $1.45 million fund resulted from savings from under-budget projects associated with the bonds. The fund will, in part, be used by the San Francisco Arts Commission to maintain and restore the murals.
The funds will begin interim preservation work on the murals as well as begin the comprehensive restoration plan outlined by Conservator Anne Rosenthal. The funds will provide a number of repairs and improvements including a new roof, restoring the lobby to its original 1933 historic color, renovating the restrooms and performing upgrades to ensure access for people with disabilities.
Built in 1933, Coit Tower is an iconic piece of San Francisco’s history and skyline. The tower is named for Lillie Hitchcock Coit who left a substantial bequest “for the purpose of adding to the beauty of the City I have always loved.” The tower was designed by the firm of Arthur Brown, Jr., architect of San Francisco City Hall.
The murals inside the tower’s base were painted in 1934 by a group of artists employed by the Public Works of Art Project, a precursor to the Works Progress Administration, and depict life in California during the Depression. Architectural Resource Group recently performed a conditions assessment of the building and murals and, while finding the murals in better condition than in previous inspections and restoration efforts, the report identified deferred maintenance that needs to be addressed.
“The report provides a road map for the City on how to repair Coit Tower and restore the murals,” said David Wessel from Architectural Resource Group. “We are excited that the City is able to provide funding and resources to tackle the needs.”