The University Mound Ladies Home has continually evolved since 1884 to meet the changing needs of the aging population in San Francisco, and that process continues today. Here is a look back at how far we've come.
The Home's original benefactor, James Lick, was among the wealthiest men in California upon his death in 1876, with a fortune conservatively estimated at $3 million. He was persuaded to leave a substantial portion of it to a variety of social and scientific causes, including $700,000 to establish the Lick Observatory and $100,000 to establish a home in San Francisco for "the aged and needy ladies who are unable to support themselves and who have no resources of their own," as a speaker put it when memorializing Lick in 1895.
According to Taylor, Mrs. Staples was "constant in her efforts to relieve the distress of others." She was a key figure in founding a children's hospital in San Francisco and in securing funding for it from the state legislature, and she also helped found the Crocker Old People's Home. "Neither race, color, nor condition caused her to hesitate where she could be of assistance to a sufferer or one in want," wrote the San Francisco Call upon her passing.
There were also festivities, as Roberts recounts: "By 1888 the annual reception and bazaar held at the Home on May Day provided extra funds, through the sale of fancy knitting and crocheted tidies made by the ladies, and general publicity since crowds came to pick the wildflowers and enjoy a day in the country. Year after year at that season, the newspapers contained long reports of these May festivals, how carriage after carriage rolled up to the doors of the spacious building, with its parlors elaborately decorated with ivy, how money had been provided for new matting for the corridors, how the crowds picked the 'golden eschscholtzias' while the aged residents and the social elite were photographed in front of the old building."
In 1931 the upper half of the grounds was sold to the neighboring Convent of the Good Shepherd, according to a history compiled by the Convent. In 1932 the present red-brick Georgian Revival building, designed by San Francisco architect Martin J. Rist, was constructed. Rist also designed the Taraval Police Station, buildings for San Francisco General Hospital, and a number of churches and private homes in San Francisco and elsewhere.
The Newhall Family
More on the Home's Architect, Martin J. Rist
More on the Portola Neighborhood
Call or email us today for more information about UMLH.
Contact us to schedule a tour of the Ladies Home.125th anniversary celebration and see proclamations from San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and the California State Assembly.
About Us >