Cliff House Project

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Sutro Heights



Courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke


Life Magazine, 1942


ebay image (not purchased)


Courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke


ebay image


"Parapet with Shepherd boy"
"No. 37, Sutro Heights, San Francisco, Cal., 1896, Taber"
Courtesy of the Jim Dickson Collection



A.J. McDonald
Courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke


Many Cliff House photographs were taken from the vantage point of Sutro Heights.  As a result, the various statues that lined the cliff were often featured prominently in the foreground.  So this page is dedicated to those statues.

The following collage is pieced together from several Cliff House photographs in order to first determine the relative placement of each statue...


Once placement is determined, the following scrollable table displays images of each statue...



The above two photos were contributed by John Martini

Also from John is an itemization of the statues from Adolph Sutro's estate inventory (located in the Sutro Library):

Proceeding from south to north they were as follows: "Night", "Hunter", "Danseuse", woman (no name), "Danseuse", "Fishing", "Prometheus", "Femme Au Serpent", "Bachante De Clodion", "Shepherd Boy", "Spring", "Summer", "Roman Flora", "Winter", "Epos", woman (no name) near Photo Gallery. There were also 16 vases on the parapet along with the two cannon and 84 cannon balls seen in many photos. And 63 iron chairs.


Statues were to be found throughout Sutro Heights
Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke


Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke


Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke


Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke


Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke



Girl in front of Sutro residence
(ca 1919-1920 based on clothing)


Girl in front of Sutro residence #2
Courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke

Statues in the 1910s or ‘20s
Photo possibly taken by Harry Walter Calvert Gendar (1870–1945)
The reverse reads, “Some fairies in Sutro’s gardens caught when they were not looking."
Scan courtesy of Jeannine Gendar


Adonis (above), Summer and Fisher Girl (below)
Image courtesy of John Martini



"20 Main entrance, Sutro Heights"
Courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke


"12. Flower Vases, Sutro Heights"
Courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke


"Statue Griffon and Main Gate, Sutro Heights"
Courtesy of Glenn D Koch Collection


A. J. Mcdonald, photographer (reverse)



"1908 Sutro Heights"


Courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke


"62 Sutro Heights Parapet, from the Cliff House"

  The above photograph was most likely taken from the 1896 Cliff House, evidence as follows...

"Using my 3D drawing of the Cliff House and the surrounding area I moved the camera to various locations at the Cliff House and came to the conclusion that the photographer was probably aiming the camera out the topmost dormer window in the roof of the Cliff House Tower. The top image is the sightline out the window and the bottom is the resulting photograph."

- John Hall   3-2-2015

"Another clue to the date is the absence of the two cannon on the parapet. We found a receipt (scan) in the Sutro Papers at SFPL for their purchase in May 1896."

- John Martini  3-2-2015


"Pigeon House and Adonis Statue."
Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke

"The Golden Gate from the Parapet."
Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke



John Martini on the guns...

"I contacted my friends at the Coastal Defense Study Group and they were able to provide me with some information on the two guns on Sutro's parapet.  They were both 6.4-inch caliber Parrott Rifles manufactured at West Point Foundry for the U.S. Navy, likely during the Civil War.  Sutro probably got them surplus from the Mare Island Navy Yard.

The 1910 inventory for the Sutro Estate gives the guns' serial numbers as 287 and 28, and their weights as 9,857 lbs. each.

No idea what happened to the guns, but photos show they were in place as late as 1938 but gone by the end of World War II. Probably lost to scrap drives.

Some people have speculated incorrectly that Sutro used these cannon to salute passing ships. That wouldn't have been possible. Both guns were mounted on makeshift carriages which, if fired, would have turned to splinters on the first shot as the cannon flew across the parapet and the Cliff House died of fright."

John Martini, 1/21/2010



Album of Helen Read (1907-2000)  more
Photos circa 1927/1928


This is the only photo I've seen showing an urn sitting off the pedestal.

"Lion at Main Gate by Geefs."
1886, Taber

Photo of lion statue in storage, 5-18-2005  (left of statue: Betsy Best-Martini)
National Park Service


"Diana (Antique.) Versailles."
1886, Taber

Photo of Diana statue in storage, 5-18-2005
National Park Service

Article on the original statue of Diana the Huntress that Adolph had copied for the Heights:

unidentified head


Shepherd Boy (?), head


close-up of above Shepherd Boy photo









"Palm Avenue Sutro Heights San Francisco Cal."
Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke


"Entrance to Sutro Heights.  San Francisco, California"
Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke


Image courtesy of Dennis O'Rorke

6/23/2012 - The park service is conducting archaeological digs which are bringing up statue fragments.