SUNNYSIDE CONSERVATORY OPENING – ON SCENE WITH BILL WILSON

BY BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson © 2009

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Even the vegetation joins in trumpeting the re-opening of the Sunnyside Conservatory.
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2009

Built in 1898, by W. A. Merralls, the Sunnyside Conservatory was designated a landmark structure in 1975. After the city mistakenly issued a demolition permit, the east wing of the Conservatory was demolished in 1978. To assure that the remaining structure remained intact, the city was persuaded to purchase the property in 1980 and did a first renovation in 1987-88.

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View of the Conservatory as you enter the gate at the Monterey Blvd. entrance.
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2009

On December 5 the Sunnyside Conservatory was again opened after the completion of a $4.2 million dollar renovation. The site is now completely ADA accessible which had been a major problem given the small size of the site and the change in elevation.

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Roy Atkins, from BCCI contractor for the project, poses with Mayor Newsom.
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2009

The Saturday opening started with a planned “high tea” unfortunately a malfunctioning coffee marker made tea the only hot drink available, but all sorts of food, sandwiches and cookies were served in the Conservatory building. The centerpiece for the table was the original finial that was rescued a neighbor who discovered it in a construction dumpster and though it interesting enough to save. When they heard that the Friends of Sunnyside Conservatory didn’t know what had happened to the wooden finial they thought they might have it. It turned out that they had in fact saved the original wood finial from destruction.

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The original wood finial is the centerpiece of table as volunteers prepare high tea.
The view is from the west wing entrance.

Photo By Bill Wilson © 2009

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Original wood finial from atop the Conservatory.
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2009

The grounds of the conservatory were packed as the ribbon cutting ceremony got underway at noon. The list of elected officials in attendance included, State Assembly members Tom Ammiano and Fiona Ma, State Senator Mark Leno, Supervisors Bevan Dufty and Sean Elsbernd ( it pays to be close to the district boundaries!) Former Secretary of State Kevin Shelley, Department of Public Works Director, Ed Reiskin, Mayors Office of Neighborhood Service Mike Farrah, PJ Johnston, President of the San Francisco Arts Commission where present, but not all got to speak.

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PJ Johnson(partial) Supervisors Dufty, Elsbernd (partial) Kevin Shelley,
State Assembly member Fiona Ma,
Ed Reiskin, Director of Department of Public Works, Ken Hoegger,
and Mayor Newsom.
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2009

Phil Ginsburg, RPD General Manager was the emcee and both Mark Leno and Fiona Ma had certificates from the State Legislature. Rhoda Parhams head of RPD’s Capitol Division and RPD Project Manager Paulina Araica were given special recognition for a job well done.

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Co Chairs of the Friends of Sunnyside Conservatory, Arnold Levine and Stacey Garfinkel.
Photo By Bill Wilson © 2009

I really can’t pretend to be an objective unbiased reporter on this story. Sunnyside is my neighborhood. This is a project that I’ve worked on since nearly the day I moved to San Francisco. I ‘m proud of the way RPD, the community and our city departments have come together to achieve this fine result.

The Sunnyside Conservatory is located between Congo and Baden on Monterey, a short walk from the BART station at Glen Park 23 Muni bus line goes up Monterey. This is a definite must see place.

See Related: ON SCENE WITH BILL WILSON

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BILL WILSON
Sentinel Photojournalist
Bill Wilson is a veteran freelance photographer whose work is published by San Francisco and Bay Area media. Bill embraced photography at the age of eight. In recent years, his photos capture historic record of the San Francisco LGBT community in the Bay Area Reporter (BAR). Bill has contributed to the Sentinel for the past five years. Email Bill Wilson at wfwilson@sbcglobal.net.

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