I’d wager that most of us have engaged, at one time or another, in the pastime of seeking out the unassuming but legendary historic homes that link a city or subculture’s past to the present. I once drove out to Bob Dylan’s place in Malibu from east L.A. only to be met with the tallest, widest solid wood gate I’ve ever seen—but I did get a peek at all the tired horses he keeps.
San Francisco is especially ripe for this—off the top of my head, I can think of the Painted Ladies, the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane houses, Anton LaVey’s Black House, 500 Capp Street, and the Black Panther’s first headquarters in Oakland, at 5624 MLK Jr. Way.
In most cases, you’ll end up squinting up at the house, maybe offering a, “Damn, cool,” and quickly moving on. There’s not always much to look at, but if you took the time to locate and seek out the house, you’re probably satisfied—now you too can say, ‘I was there, man.’
The Beatles House is one such house in San Francisco that would have actually offered the seeker much to behold from the street outside.
An amazing essay by Todd Lapin on the excellent San Francisco digital archive site foundsf.org uncovers the history of the Beatles House in the Mission and its incredible mural. Tragically, the mural is gone now. Nonetheless, please go read Lapin’s essay—there are endless cool details and many more photos.
Lapin was also able to track down and interview Jane Weems, who painted the mural. In her words:
Lapin mentions in the article that the house can be seen in the movie, Living on Tokyo Time. I was able to track down that film, a totally enjoyable indie rom-com from the 80s, and indeed you’ll see the Beatles House appear as a rehearsal spot for the male protagonist’s band.
Long live old, weird San Francisco!
// jamie a.