The Nourse Auditorium
By LOUISE RAFKIN | Published by NYTimes.com
Published: March 31, 2012
Despite street signs that point out the Nourse Auditorium, few walking past the hulking building at Hayes and Franklin Streets know about the opulent 1,800-seat theater inside. Built in 1927 for the High School of Commerce, it has served as a stage for poets, rock stars, lawyers and, for the last 30 years, as storage space for the San Francisco Unified School District.
Joseph Nourse worked for the San Francisco school district for 42 years as a teacher, principal and superintendent. In 1919, Mr. Nourse started the city’s R.O.T.C. program. In 1940, “against his better judgment,” he allowed students to play bridge during school. The school had some noteworthy graduates, including Pedro Flores, a former Filipino bellboy credited with marketing the yo-yo.
After the High School of Commerce closed in 1952, the hall was rented out for events. In 1965, Alcoholics Anonymous held a 30th anniversary event there. On the day of Robert F. Kennedy’s funeral in 1968, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg read poetry. A year later, Jim Morrison appeared with the Living Theatre, an experimental theater company with nude performers (some on LSD) who proclaimed, “To be free is to be free is to be free.”
Damon Tevis, a facilities administrator for the school district, knows the decorative Spanish Revival-style building inside and out. Climbing on the catwalks in the space above the ceiling, he pointed to hand-cranks for the elaborate chandeliers and to the plaster and horsehair insulation. “There are doors that go nowhere,” he said.
(Click here for the entire NYTimes article.)
The Nourse Auditorium
By Roslyn Banish | Published by SFGate.com
April 30, 2013
Ten or 15 years ago I wrote a magazine feature on public high school architecture in San Francisco, falling hard for the grand theaters built into Mission and Galileo.
I’d seen them all, but I had not seen the best — Nourse Auditorium — because it is hidden within the High School of Commerce, which has been closed for 50 years.
Nobody knows it is there, which is doubly surprising because the door is directly across from the stage door to Davies Symphony Hall. About six weeks ago I found the door, left ajar, so I creaked it open and wandered onto the stage. Standing there and looking out it felt like the high school equivalent of Carnegie Hall, with tier after tier, rising to the ceiling.
(Click here for the entire article and a great photo gallery.)
Our check out this video from ABC7 on the Nourse as well
(Click on the image to go directly to the link.):
Or check out this coverage from the Huffington Post.
(Thanks to Board Member Lowell Angell for passing these along.)