Fire Chief's Cottage: 1984 Great Highway


1984 Great Highway

1984 Great Highway

Built as a vacation retreat in 1905 by Fire Chief Dennis T. Sullivan, the eye-catching beach cottage at 1984 Great Highway has spent much of the last 96 years acting as a church. Plans to raze it and build a larger church building surfaced late in 2000, prompting the National Trust for Historic Preservation to list it as "threatened".

Demolition has seemingly been forestalled and the property has been on the market since December.

Fire Chief Sullivan didn't have much time to enjoy the home. He became one of the prominent and early casualties of the 1906 earthquake, falling through three floors of his home above a fire house on Bush Street. He lay in a coma while his leaderless department battled a conflagration that demolished most of the city. He died a few days later.

Another Fire Chief, Thomas R. Murphy, bought the property in 1922, and a church group purchased and renovated the building in 1947.

The Junior League noted in 1967 that the roof still had its original asbestos shingle, quite appropriate for the residence of a fire fighter. Sources: Here Today, Junior League of San Francisco; The San Francisco Earthquake, Gordon Thomas, Max Morgan Witts; Preservation, Sept/Oct 2000.

Page launched 1/23/01