• Sasha Krassovsky


Who doesn’t love a little History? Did you know that the stunning Mark Hopkins hotel that you see today at the corner of California and Mason Streets used to have a mansion in its place?

That’s right! Mark Hopkins, the owner of the mansion, was considered one of the “Big Four” that founded the Pacific Railroad system. Unfortunately, he passed before the mansion was completed, but it was inherited by his wife, Mary, who married the interior designer of the home. After she passed, the mansion was donated to the San Francisco Art Institute. Subsequently, it was burnt to the ground in the fires that followed the 1906 earthquake. Only the retaining wall in the perimeter of the courtyard is from the original mansion and is a registered historical landmark.

The hotel was built in a Spanish Renaissance and French Chateau style and opened to great fanfare in December of 1926. Along with it came the fabulous Peacock Court Ballroom, which has hosted many royals, big bands and celebrities. Right next to it, the Room of the Dons features beautiful murals by famous Western artists Maynard Dixon and Frank Van Sloun.

Mr. Van Sloun taught at the previous Institute of Art. The murals depict early California life including, the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors and missionaries in mid-eighteenth century, Sir Francis Drake’s landing in 1579, the Aztec and other Indian Cultures living south of California and finally, centering on Calafia, who was a figure of the early-modern Spanish literary tradition. According to legend, Calafia was an African pagan queen who ruled a group of women on the mythical island of California. The female model for these murals was Ms. Ola Carlson, who was just shy of nineteen when Mr. Dixon approached her to model nude for the mural. Ms. Carlson celebrated her 100th birthday at the Mark Hopkins in 2008 and passed away two-and-a-half years later at 102.

Finally, we have the famous Top of the Mark showcasing stunning views of San Francisco City and Bay, including the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Transamerica, Salesforce Tower, and so much more. It too has a fascinating history when it was the “go to” spot for family and friends to send off their men joining the war. There is a spot at the Mark called “Weepers Corner” where sweethearts could watch the military ships sail out under the Golden Gate Bridge and bid a final farewell to their loved ones.

Window Washer taken by Ansel Adams from the Weepers' Corner

With all this rich history, gorgeous architecture and perfected service, wouldn’t it be incredible to have a wedding at such an iconic place? Check out this rare clip from a 1934 wedding:

Hope you enjoyed these tidbits from memory lane and consider us to host a special event for you!


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