Monthly Programs

Monthly programs are generally held on the second Tuesday evening of each month except for August and December. Programs are free to SFMHS members. Admission for non-members is $10 per person ($5 for seniors, students, K-12 teachers, and persons with disabilities), which may be applied to membership dues within 30 days.

Program dates and topics are subject to change. Please check this page for any last-minute updates.

Unless otherwise noted, it is not necessary to RSVP for a monthly program.

Most programs take place at the Old Mint, located at 88 Fifth Street at Mission. The Old Mint is close to Powell MUNI/BART, and is served my numerous bus lines. Parking is available in the Fifth and Mission/Yerba Buena Center Garage.

Please join us at 7 PM for a reception before each program.

July 2014 Program

Lets Go To The Fair!
Kathryn Ayres

Tuesday, July 8 - 7:30 PM

The Golden Gate International Exposition was held to celebrate the completion of San Francisco’s two new bridges. The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was dedicated on November 12, 1936; the Golden Gate Bridge was dedicated on May 27, 1937; and on August 26, 1937, dredging for Treasure Island, the site of the exposition, was complete.

Throughout the run of the fair, multi-colored searchlights were visible for 100 miles around. Approximately 1200 gardeners worked in the wee morning hours to design flowerbeds that corresponded with the seasons. The magnificent garden courts were designed to showcase California’s balmy weather, in contrast to that of New York, which was hosting a world’s fair at the same time. As both fairs were partially financed by federal funds, no doubt New Yorkers felt slighted by President Roosevelt’s statement after he made a visit to the Treasure Island fair: “I think you people out here on the Pacific Coast, when you start to do something, do it better than anyone else in the United States.”

Kathryn Ayres, vice president of the San Francisco Bay Area Post Card Club, will show postcards and other rare ephemera to carry you back to the Magic City on Treasure Island in 1939 and 1940. Kathryn is the guest curator for the current 75th anniversary exhibit at the Treasure Island Museum, which showcases many items from her personal collection.

September 2014 Program

Building the PPIE
Laura Ackley

Tuesday, September 9 - 7:30 PM

Fans of San Francisco history know that the city hosted a spectacular world’s fair in 1915, but less well known is the engaging tale of how San Francisco built the Panama-Pacific International Exposition against long odds. Join architectural historian Laura Ackley for a presentation of the period between 1912 and 1915, after the final site of the exposition had been selected, but before construction began. Ackley will describe the challenges of building the fair on a site of which 70 acres was under water at high tide.

The talk will include images of the elaborate exhibit “Palaces,” early renderings of the grounds and architecture, along with elements of the fair that were not constructed. Ackley will discuss how exhibits were selected, the rules governing midway attractions, how the fair was promoted, and the ways in which the outbreak of World War I affected the Exposition. Progress photographs of construction will culminate in the grand opening day parade and festivities. The lecture will be illustrated with dramatic and often rare images of the exposition’s creation, including viewbooks, panoramas, official photographs, souvenirs, magazine articles, newspaper articles, lantern slides, and postcards.