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Outside Lands Podcast Episode 11: Ingleside Jail and More

The History of the House of Refuge Lot, where City College of San Francisco and Balboa Park stand today.
Outside Lands San Francisco Podcast - Mar 20, 2013

Outside Lands Podcast Episode 11: Ingleside Jail and More Outside Lands Podcast Episode 11: Ingleside Jail and More

(above) Ingleside Jail, 1920s

County Jail No.2, aka Ingleside Jail, a men's facility built in 1870s, demolished 1934. Now site of City College San Francisco athletic fields.


Podcast Transcription

WNP11 – Ingleside Jail

Woody: [00:00:00] David?

David: Yes, Woody.

Woody: I'm going to read you a newspaper item from May 20th, 1910.

David: This is like Herb Caen.

Woody: No, this is before Herb Caen. This is a little newspaper item and it says “Some months ago, Judge George Cabanis paced from his chambers with his usual dignity, mounted the steps to the bench, and sat down in the official kitchen chair that masquerades as the throne of the judiciary, judiciary, in the McAllister Street Annex to the far scattered City Hall.” People used to write a little more flowery back then, I think. “And the judge found that his desk was in disorder. His papers thrown about and further that divers grave and bulky rolls of pretentious appearance were brushed off on the floor.” [00:01:00]

David: Divers?

Woody: Divers? I kind of, it looks like a typo. Diverse, I don't know. Anyway, “Where at his honor, roared and banged the bench until the court bailiff developed on the instant, an acute attack of St. Vitus's dance.”

David: Woo.

Woody: “ ‘Who did this?’ Cabanis thundered. ‘Six months to whoever did this!’ Three or four attorneys and a policeman huddled over in a corner, straightened up simultaneously with expressions of triumph and led a forlorn dog down the aisle to the bench.”

David: Ahhh.

Woody: “ ‘The dog got into the papers, judge,’ the bailiff stuttered, ‘and before we could drive them away, he scattered them all around.’ ‘Six months to the dog!’ Cabanis cried. Which explains why and how Ingleside Two County Jail has the canine prisoner. They call him Judge.

David: Awww.

Woody: There was a dog in prison. And that is my intro to [00:02:00] what we're going to talk about. What do you think we're gonna talk about today?

David: Dogs?

Woody: No.

David: Prisons?

Woody: Sort of.

David: The House of Refuge?

Woody: The old County Jail where this dog was sent way back in 1910. But first, this is the Outside Lands San Francisco Podcast. And I'm Woody LaBounty.

David: And I'm David Gallagher.

Woody: And yes, we are gonna talk about the House of Refuge lot.

David: The lot where the House of Refuge was.

Woody: And a lot of other things on the lot. It wasn't just the House of Refuge and we have to explain what a house of refuge is. But, David, what, where is the House of Refuge lot?

David: Well, it's, in a nutshell, it's where City College is today,

Woody: In a nutshell?

David: Yes. The short answer is it's right where City College is today. The longer answer is, it encompassed the area of City College and then all the way down to Balboa Park, to Ocean Avenue, which now is bisected by the [00:03:00] 280 freeway.

Woody: Okay, so City College is right along Phelan Avenue, I guess, it’s an avenue? And Phelan Avenue goes down to Ocean Avenue.

David: That's right.

Woody: That's the corner. And then Ocean Avenue goes down, down past Balboa Park Station or close near there. And we're talking about San Jose Avenue.

David: Yes. Did I say Ocean before? I meant San Jose Avenue. So…

Woody: Over, kind of in the Ingleside, Mission Terrace area.

David: Bordered by Phelan, Ocean, and San Jose Avenue.

Woody: Gotcha.

David: And then on the other side, by the Sunnyside district, kind of.

Woody: Right. Kinda winds and different streets. So how old is this lot we're talking about? I mean, this is like a piece of land that I suppose has some early history in San Francisco?

David: Yeah. San Francisco bought this land in 1854.

Woody: Wow.

David: The city was just a baby.

Woody: Just a cute little baby that bought this big old land. Which, how many acres is it? Is it like?

David: It's like a hundred acres.

Woody: Wow. So, it's [00:04:00] a lot. So, maybe we should start first with what is a house of refuge?

David: What is a house of refuge? Well, it was…

Woody: A place where you find refuge.

David: Yeah. A place where you find refuge.

Woody: From what? What are we, what are we trying to escape from here? What are we, what do we need refuge from?

David: Well, so it was for, it was for, essentially, kids in trouble. Neglected, abandoned, delinquent children under the age of 16.

Woody: Okay. And so, at-risk youth.

David: Right. That's what we call them today.

Woody: Right. And they bought this lot. And this was nowhere near where the city is developed though.

David: No, it was out in the countryside.

Woody: Right.

David: I mean, there was nothing out there.

Woody: So, did they do that, I wonder if they bought the lot out in the country because, well, I'm sure it was cheaper, but also maybe they wanted to send these kids out to the country to kind of get away from the inequities, and iniquities of the big city [00:05:00] living and be out in farmland.

David: Yeah. And to, and to rehabilitate them. I mean, so in 1859, the San Francisco Industrial School opened on the House of Refuge lot. But it wasn't really, they weren't teaching anything. It was, it was, the name kind of more referred to rehabilitating the youth to be industrious.

Woody: Oh.

David: It's like, stop being a delinquent and learn how to contribute to society.

Woody: I should go to an industrial school. Because I'm spending too much time lazing it out. So, okay. So, they're not learning how to be a metalsmith or a carpenter necessarily.

David: No.

Woody: But they're like just learning how to follow rules and learn how to be a good citizen.

David: I guess. So, yeah.

Woody: How to get to work. I guess that makes sense, cause back then we're talking about the early days of how to take care of kids. I mean, they don't quite have the science they have today, so they're, the big thing was you gotta work probably.

David: Right. So, I [00:06:00] believe what they had was they had this industrial school, but they also, the area of Balboa Park, I think was even farmed and they grew plants and crops.

Woody: Yeah, they grew their own food. I think they grew the food that they fed the kids there. So they probably learned that too. Okay, so how…

David: The whole area was kind of a farming area at that time.

Woody: Yeah, it was very agricultural.

David: Nothing else.

Woody: For sure. I told you earlier that I read this newspaper article after the 1906 earthquake. They talked about the area being some of the best corn and potato soil for growing corn and potatoes. So, it was a rich, fertile land.

David: Wonder if anybody's growing corn and potatoes out there now?

Woody: I don't know. Maybe they're locavores.

David: We're gonna have to go peeking over some backyard fences again.

Woody: No, we're not. Again. You make it sound, you make it sound like we should be sent to the industrial school. So now I think of it as funny. I think of those as two lots now, because the freeway cuts [00:07:00] right through the middle of that piece of land. It feels like two separate areas.

David: It sure does. I mean it, and it's been cut in half for a long, long time. So, we said they bought it in 1854. 1859 they built the industrial school. 1865 they gave a 60-foot right of way to the San Jose Railroad.

Woody: Oh, okay. So, the railroad that went from San Francisco down to San Jose.

David: Right.

Woody: Cut right through where, pretty much where 280 is today?

David: Right. Later became, I think it was later bought by Southern Pacific even. So…

Woody: Okay. And then, so that's always been sort of a little transit corridor, you might say.

David: Right. So, that old railroad right of way became expanded for 280.

Woody: And BART.

David: And BART got built right on it too.

Woody: Yeah.

David: And now it's just so split. It's like Balboa Park and City College seem like totally separate places.

Woody: Like you're in a different neighborhood.

David: Yeah.

Woody: And, but I, I had heard, so you know that little, that one little [00:08:00] road that goes in the Balboa Park, Sergeant John…

David: Sergeant John Young.

Woody: Sergeant John Young Lane or something.

David: Yeah.

Woody: That was the entrance to the Industrial School back in the old days that you would go from San Jose Avenue.

David: Right.

Woody: Which was the old San Jose Road going down to San Jose, and you would turn off the path there, go up what is today, Sergeant John Young Lane, and go straight up, across where the freeway is today, up to the Industrial School. It's like the main entrance.

David: Yeah. Yeah. It's weird to think that.

Woody: Now it's stranded on the other side.

David: Yeah. And now, and now the police station is there. That's been there for quite a while too.

Woody: So, they built this, they buy this lot, the city does. They build this school for the youth, which I read was like a lot of these big institutions, was pretty poorly run. And they had a lot of like scandals and crises and funding issues, I think. It was always an up and down thing with the industrial school. [00:09:00] So, how do we get from a place where kids are being rehabilitated and learning to be industrious to a place where a dog is gonna get incarcerated? When does it become like a jail?

David: So, in the 1870s, the city builds the House of Correction.

Woody: On the same.

David: Right next to, right next to the Industrial School.

Woody: So, they have all these kids learning to be industrious and they build like a House of Correction next to it.

David: Right. But I mean, it was…

Woody: It did have a fence.

David: It's essentially the same, it’s essentially the same thing, but it's for slightly older criminals. But who had petty crimes who were not so bad that they'd send them to San Quentin, for example.

Woody: Right. So, they're not orphans who are just like homeless. They're kids who are participating in crime.

David: Adults who are participating in crime. And the House of Correction had armed guards and was like, and morphed into the Ingleside Jail.

Woody: Right.

David: It's right next [00:10:00] to the Industrial School, which is still, they're still inmates, but the guards aren't, the guards aren’t armed. And the kids, we believe the kids went out, did farming and stuff. So, they're right next to each other.

Woody: Right.

David: Separated by a wooden fence.

Woody: You're getting a lot of your info from an article by our friend Angus MacFarlane, right? On our website, right?

David: Yes. I owe all of what I know to Angus MacFarlane is true.

Woody: I just think it's crazy that they had a little wooden fence between the criminals and the kids who are just kinda like, I ain't got no mum. I'm from Oliver Twist, or whatever.

David: Right, exactly. And I mean, originally in the Industrial School, there were boys and girls together there.

Woody: Oh, I can see problems with that.

David: Yeah. Well, that didn't last too awful long.

Woody: They like…

David: They got rid of the girls.

Woody: Yeah, they always ship out the girls and then, okay. So, we have, we have kids still being rehabilitated. We have prisoners now in the 1870s.

David: Right. [00:11:00]

Woody: What else goes on in this site? Anything else get added? I know later it becomes, an institution of higher learning.

David: So, so, what happens is, California starts realizing that they need to have reform schools or whatever. And so, they opened reform schools in other parts of the state.

Woody: Okay.

David: Even more remote than the Ingleside neighborhood of San Francisco.

Woody: That'll teach those kids to get reformed.

David: And so…

Woody: We're sending you to Marysville.

David: Around 1891, the Industrial School with the kids, it got rid of everybody and it was gone.

Woody: They have a new system essentially.

David: Right.

Woody: The state has a new system.

David: Right. But…

Woody: Yes.

David: When all the boys went away, the sheriff said, I'm moving the ladies in. So, the industrial school then becomes a women's jail.

Woody: Okay. So…

David: That’s what it is.

Woody: And do they have just a little wooden fence between the male prisoners and the women's jail right there still?

David: I don't know. They probably added [00:12:00] armed guards and other things, because it is a prison, you know.

Woody: Okay. So, these women who have got in trouble somehow are now shipped out to the women's jail in Ingleside.

David: That's right.

Woody: Which is still far from the city.

David: It's still far from the city,

Woody: Which makes sense, I guess.

David: Right.

Woody: Although it must make the area…

David: It’s like 1890, early 1890s.

Woody: It must make the area not very desirable for homeowners though.

David: Yeah. I mean, what was, well, so 1890s, what was Ocean Avenue like back then?

Woody: Well, I'll tell you, there are roadhouses. In 1895, you have the Ingleside Racetrack opens down the road. You have a dog coursing area where they bet, bet on greyhounds right across the street where right across Phelan where…

David: Oh, where the reservoir was.

Woody: Where the reservoir was, there was a dog coursing.

David: But so, let's say, let's just orient this slightly. So, the industrial school and the Ingleside jail site are down the [00:13:00] hill, kind of where the football field is, and so I think the very top of the hill was kind of bare.

Woody: Right.

David: And then you go over to the dog coursing park.

Woody: Right.

David: Which is a little bit physically removed from…

Woody: Yeah.

David: Where we're talking about.

Woody: But still, you got gambling and you got like racing. And I think the people who live near there were either farmers or railroad workers.

David: Yeah.

Woody: Or had something to do with the jail.

David: Right. Cause the railroad went through and I guess there was a stop just over the hill, down the railroad way towards Ocean View, in fact.

Woody: Yeah. I think there was actually a flag stop there. Called, which is right near where the jail was near Balboa Park, where you basically would get a flag out of a little holder there and wave it if you wanted the train to stop.

David: Wow.

Woody: It wasn't an official stop, but a flag stop.

David: Just in case.

Woody: Yeah. You didn't want to go all the way to Ocean View to catch the train. Well, okay, so what happens then? So, in the 1890s, we still have all these houses of correction and these women's jails.

David: Right.

Woody: And these houses of refuge and [00:14:00] all that are kind of like…

David: And still just kind of a big rural part that would become Balboa Park.

Woody: Right.

David: So, in 1901, the fire department got a little lot, part of it, right at the corner of Ocean and San Jose Avenue.

Woody: Right. They built a little fire station there.

David: They built a fire station there. We have pictures of that.

Woody: We have pictures of it. Yeah.

David: Yeah. And, in fact, for years there was this funny little cutout parking lot that was there. That was odd and had a tree growing in the middle of it. And now they've just built a little skate park.

Woody: Oh.

David: And I always wondered why there was this, and it's right next to the ball field. And now I was like, why is there this cutout? And it was because there was a fire station there when they built the ball fields in the ‘50s.

Woody: Right. So, the fire station's gone and they had to…

David: So is the parking lot.

Woody: They lopped off a little portion of Balboa Park. Yeah.

David: But that little section is now, like I say, [00:15:00] a skate park.

Woody: Right. And then they built a police station in 1909 or something like that in the middle of Balboa Park. And I think Balboa Park was made an official park around 1910. And at the time it was San Francisco's second biggest public park. Can you name the first biggest public park?

David: Golden Gate Park.

Woody: That's right. It's way bigger. Now, John McLaren Park, I believe, is probably the second biggest public park.

David: Yeah.

Woody: But it wasn't a park then, so I think Balboa Park was. And they had little ball fields and racing area and now they've got a pool, and now it's a big old recreation center with a soccer stadium. But all that kind of came later. So, when does the jail go away?

David: So, in the 1930s…

Woody: Yeah.

David: What was then called the Ingleside Jail…

Woody: Right. Which was not a nice place. We've seen pictures and things, and I've read accounts. It seemed to be kind of a rough place to be incarcerated.

David: Yeah. [00:16:00]

Woody: If there's a nice place to be incarcerated.

David: There were events elsewhere in the country where old wooden jails had caught fire and the inmates had died. And so…

Woody: Oh.

David: This news got to San Francisco and there was an outcry that the old Ingleside jail, which was also made of wood, was a death trap, and needed to be replaced.

Woody: Makes sense.

David: And that's in 1930. And so, about that time they got land in a more remote place, San Bruno, and built the San Bruno jail.

Woody: Your hometown.

David: My hometown, yeah. And it's even remote for San Bruno. It’s right up on the hill behind, kind of behind Skyline College.

Woody: So, yeah, people don't want jails right next door to their houses. And I suppose the city had kind of expanded to fill in the area around the jail too. So, they're probably more than happy…

David: Yeah.

Woody: To shuttle prisoners out of town.

David: By 1930, there were street cars, there were people living…

Woody: Yeah.

David: There's a whole neighborhood on [00:17:00] Ocean Avenue and…

Woody: Sunnyside.

David: In the Sunnyside and Glen Park.

Woody: Right. So okay, they vote to build the San Bruno Jail and they get rid of the Ingleside Jail. What to do with all that land? Not Balboa Park, but the park that's west of where the future of freeway would go. What to do with all that land, David?

David: Well…

Woody: How about City College of San Francisco?

David: I was trying to find a way to build up to that, because it's just there and we all know that City College is there and anyway, yes, they built City College of San Francisco.

Woody: Part of the junior college system.

David: Right.

Woody: I think, and it's beautiful with Timothy Pflueger designed a lot of the stuff.

David: Yeah.

Woody: Kind of the main science building. Oh. It's just really…

David: And they filled it up with a lot of artwork and stuff.

Woody: Yeah. Diego Rivera. I, I hope City College is there forever. I mean, it seems like these things like the House of Refuge and the House of Correction, they went away. But City College is beautiful, but I guess it's [00:18:00] having some issues these days.

David: That's not what we're talking about.

Woody: I know, but I just gotta bring that up. City College is having issues, people, if you don't know this, get the news.

David: The main thing that we wanna leave our story with, is that this plot of land that Balboa Park and City College has been city land for over a hundred years. Almost 150.

Woody: Over 150.

David: Over 150 years. A hundred. Let me, all right. Let me start.

Woody: Our math is not good.

David: That has been a city land for 159 years.

Woody: Wow. Which is really old for the area we cover. We cover the west side of San Francisco. We're usually talking about things that are 70 years old, but this is old, old, old.

David: Super-duper old and there's probably a lot more to the story than we have been able to cover today.

Woody: Oh, I bet. You talk about 150, 160 odd years of institutions in a site. I'm sure there's all sorts of stories [00:19:00] there. Including a dog that was incarcerated, that they named Judge.

David: This is David Gallagher.

Woody: Yes. So that's it. Any news coming up? Did we get any mail or anything about our podcast that we should talk about before we leave?

David: No.

Woody: No.

David: No. If you can hear us, send us a message.

Woody: Yeah, you can email us at outsidelands.org. Tell us if you listen to this podcast. And if you want more.

David: We have pictures of these buildings. We have pictures of the site.

Woody: Yeah.

David: You should take a look at it if you want to. If you want to know as much as we know, come and read the article by Angus MacFarlane on our website.

Woody: Yeah. I think we should have some new exit music too.

David: Do, do, do.

Woody: No, no, no. Not something by you. I think something more like this. What do you think it is. That sounds too old-fashioned, doesn't it?

David: Yeah.

Woody: All right. Well, I'm Woody LaBounty. We'll see you next week. [00:20:00]

David: I'm David Gallagher. This has been the Western Neighborhoods Project Outside Lands podcast.

Woody: Technically the name is Outside Lands San Francisco.

David: Get it.

Woody: We're terrible with names.

David: We can't get anything right.

Woody: We're terrible with names.

David: Time for one of those rock and roll beers.

Woody: Learn more about the Western Neighborhoods Project and more about San Francisco history at outsidelands.org.

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