Cliff House Project

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Timeline

While the focus of this website is the short-lived victorian cliff house (1896-1907), this timeline includes events both before and after that period for historical perspective...

For a chronological photographic timeline, click here.

 

 
1863
 
First Cliff House built by C.C. Butler & John P. Buckley
Jun 25, 1864
 
Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) pays a visit
Sep 24-27, 1865
 
James Cooke walked a tightrope from the Cliff House to Seal Rocks
Jun 17, 1866   Mlle. Rosa Celeste attempts tightrope walk  
1868
 
Captain Foster triples size of building by adding two wings
Sept 3 1868   Wreck of the Brignardello  
May 22 1869   George Francis Train visits
Jan 25 1872   Wreck of the Josephine Wilcutt  
Dec, 1874   King Kalakaua Visits Cliff House
Jan 25, 1878   Wreck of the King Philip  
Sep 29, 1879   General Grant visits
Sep 20, 1880
 
President Rutherford B. Hayes visits Cliff House for lunch
1881
 
Adolph Sutro purchases 1st Cliff House & surrounding lands
1883   Ocean & Park Railroad Construction  
1884   Captain Foster leaves  
March 1884

 

  Adelina Patti visits Cliff House

 

Apr 6 1884   Suspension bridge to Flag Rock collapses
Jun 14 1884   Ocean Beach Pavilion Opens
Oct 11, 1885   Baldwin Aborted Tightrope Walk  
May 2, 1886   Captain Paul Boyton's Aquatic Exhibition
Dec 17, 1886   Wreck of the Atlantic
1887
 
Thomas Scott Baldwin makes first parachute jump (????)
Jan 17, 1887
 
Schooner Parallel explodes, destroying the north wing
Apr 8, 1887
 
 
Sutro hints of new structure
July 1, 1888
 
Ferries & Cliff House Railroad begins operation
Mar 10, 1888   Davison Brothers Failed Tightrope Walk  
Oct 1889   Capt Jack Williams spends week on Seal Rock  
Nov 17, 1889   John Williams Tightrope Walk  
Apr 12, 1890   Baldwin's Grand Balloon Ascension  
Apr 27, 1891
 
President & Mrs. Harrison visit
Oct 11, 1891   Millie Lavelle tightrope walk  
Dec 6, 1891   John L Sullivan visits
1892   Sutro Baths early opening  
Mar 10, 1892   Andrew Carnegie visits Cliff House
Jan 10, 1893   Leland Stanaford visits Cliff House
Apr 16, 1893   Balloon Crash
May 15, 1894   Cliff House burglary  
Nov 6, 1894   Adolph Sutro elected mayor of SF
Dec 25, 1894
 
First Cliff House burns to the ground
 
1895
 
Adolph hires architects Lemme & Colley to build a new Cliff House
Nov 2 1895   Caroline Miskel Visits Cliff House
Jan 14 1896
 
The new Cliff House opens for business
Feb 1 1896
 
Sutro Electric Railroad Opens
Apr 5 1896   Cornelius Vanderbilt II visits
Aug 9 1896   Actor Chauncey Olcott visits
Dec 1896   Mysterious Airship Visit
Oct 31, 1897
 
High Dive from Cliff House
Feb 7, 1898   Adolph Sutro declared mentally incompetent  
Aug 8, 1898
 
Adolph Sutro dies after a long illness
Jun 25, 1899   Point Lobos Train Wreck
Jul 4, 1899
  High Dive Cancelled  
Aug 23, 1899
 
First ship to shore wireless transmission was received at Cliff House
Mar 3, 1900
 
Meeting at Cliff House founds CSAA (Calif State Auto Association)
Jan 3, 1901   Storm  
March 1901   Shriners Visit 1901
May 15, 1901
 
President McKinley visits
Oct 26, 1901   Automobile Club Moonlight Run  
Feb 23, 1902   Storm  
Mar 13, 1902
 
Schooner "Reporter" is shipwrecked off Ocean Beach
June 1902   Shriners Visit 1902
Sept 13, 1902   Buffalo Bill visits Cliff House
Dec 13, 1902   Laying of the Pacific Cable
May 13, 1903
 
President Roosevelt visits
Jun 14, 1903   Waiters Strike
June 20, 1903   First Transcontinental Auto Race  
Nov 21, 1903   Sheriff briefly takes control over debt
Feb 1904   Storm  
March 1905   Storm  
May-June 1905   Knights of Columbus Visit
Aug 27, 1905   Cliff House Grill Opens  
May 27 1905   Steam train around Lands End converted to electric streetcar begins operation
Sept 2, 1905   Francis McCarty demonstrates voice transmission using radio from Cliff House
Apr 18, 1906
 
San Francisco earthquake - Cliff House sustains only minor damage
Sep 11, 1906
 
Cliff House minor fire
Apr 23, 1907   Cliff House to be remodeled  
Sept 7, 1907
 
Cliff House burns to the ground
  May 6, 1908   Atlantic Fleet visits San Francisco
1908
 
Adolph daughter Emma starts construction of a new Cliff House
July 1, 1909
 
New Cliff House opens for business
Apr 19, 1911   Fannie Brice Visits Cliff House
Oct 15, 1911
 
President Taft lunches at the Cliff House
1912   Telegraph Tower Installation  
1916   Mrs Douglas Crane becomes manager  
July 1918   Sarah Bernhardt visits Cliff House
July 18, 1918  
Army order forces closure
Dec 8 1920   Reopens with Richard (Shorty) Roberts, proprietor
1922   Pt Lobos Road Construction  
June 1922   Shriners Visit 1922  
Feb 7, 1925t>
 
Landslides destroy the streetcar line around Lands End
1925   Closed for business
Feb 8 1926   Storm-tossed Schooner Wrecks Lurline Pier
Apr 26, 1936   Owner Charles W. Sutro dies  
Oct 7, 1936   Wreck of the Ohioan
Dec 1936   Sutro family sells Cliff House to George Whitney
1946   Floyd Jennings builds Camera Obscura on terrace
1949
 
Streetcar service ceases to Sutro and Cliff House area
 
1949   Cliff House remodeled
May 1955

 

  Whitney's Sky Tram begins service

 

1964   Robert D. Fraiser Acquires
50% Interest
 
June 26, 1966   Sutro Baths Fire
1973   Blue Cliff House
June 21, 1973   Dan & Mary Hountalas become proprietors of the Cliff House  
1977   Acquired by GGNRA for $3.79 million
2003   Reconstruction

 

Cliff House Proprietors

1863

-

Dec 30, 1883 Junius G. (Captain) Foster  

1884

- 23 Oct 1885 George E. Sheldon  
  Moss  
1885 - Sept 1907 James Malcom Wilkins  
Sept 1907 -   John Tait  

1910

John Farley  

1912

 

May 1915

Roy C. Carruthers  
Nov 24, 1916   1918 ? Mrs. Douglas Crane  

1918

John Farley      (again)  
8 Dec 1920   Oct 1925 Richard P "Shorty" Roberts  

closed for business

   
Aug 5 1937     Al C Hunds  
1977  

Present

Dan & Mary Hountalas  

 


Excerpt from "Sutro baths, Cliff House, Sutro Heights - 1895", page 6 (link)

 

 

 

Dignitaries

Other dignitaries are believed to have visited the Cliff House, but I have not yet tracked down
definitive dates.  Any help is much appreciated...

  • Prince of Wales  (1860?)

  • Oscar Wilde    (in SF 1882, fictional account documented here, but real visit still possible)

  • Princess Louise    (Dec 1882 one possible date)

  • Marquis of Lorne

  • Rudolph Valentino  (b.1895-d.1926)

  • Enrico Caruso  (b.1873-d.1921, possible visit the day after the 1906 quake)

If you have evidence of other dignitary visits, please email me... gary@cliffhouseproject.com.

 


 


Finally just for fun, here's a rendition of the victorian Cliff House if it had survived to the present...


 


John Hall

 

***  Special thanks to John Martini for his invaluable help constructing this timeline.  ***