Historic Firehouse 8 is a San Francisco landmark with its foundation planted firmly in 1916. Structurally sound and functioning beyond its original intention – it still serves the community. Though privately owned, the mixed retail space offers the neighborhood a respite from bustling Polk Street. Located at 1648 Pacific Ave, it’s a place to stroll through, look at art, and simply be in a Victorian era Engine House. Few are open to the public in San Francisco. Re-inhabiting a landmark firehouse isn’t possible for most of us, but it’s sure nice spending time in one.
Renovating Firehouse 8 [F8], opening its doors to the public, and setting the stage as a mixed retail and event space, allows F8 to achieve its mission - to be a hub of community activity. Believe it or not, it’s actually something we need in the Russian Hill, Polk Gulch neighborhood.
Having lived on this side of town for more than 18 years, I typically travel to other parts of town for more interesting happenings. I’d like to stay in my own neck of the woods for a change. That’s why I’ve been supporting the opening of F8 over the past several months. Though it’s a private affair, there’s potential to benefit the overall community. Led by Teresa Nittolo, partner Gavin Jeffries, plus her brother and sister– it’s been a family undertaking for the past six years.
“I wanted to rescue this building so that the entire neighborhood could enjoy it.” Says, Teresa, the visionary behind the plan to renovate a historic San Francisco landmark. She believes it will be a place to connect with friends, enjoy a cup of coffee, and discover local artists. And so do I. Not to mention, if you happen to be getting married or throwing yourself a grand birthday party – it’s also the hottest new event space in the city.
I learned about Teresa’s dream about six years ago. I had just started the Mrs. Robinson Society. It was starting to take flight and I was always on the look out for fun places to host parties. Frankly, we were becoming alcoholics from all the cocktailing at places like Rye and we were getting more serious about creating a “salon like” experience for our members. Getting together for a “drink” wasn’t a good enough reason to meet anymore. When I heard her plan for the F8, I was hooked. I wanted to throw the first party in her new space. I had no idea it would be more than six years before it would happen. But now it is.
Next month I launch a month long event called, “The Myth of Visible Certainty.” Opening Night October 12th features photographers – Heimo Schmidt and Paul Burke Inman. I’ll host a pop-up dinner with the Farm:Table and wine pairings by Amy Currens. Then, the event I’ve been waiting for: The Dead Writer’s Salon on October 28th. True to the definition of a salon – it’s a meeting with a purpose and designed to inspire, amuse and engage all in attendance. Typically there are readings, performances and music. We’ll have all that, plus we’ll drink some absinthe provided by Rye on the Road and see a vintage fashion show that include designs by LemonTwist. Guests will be encouraged to channel their favorite dead writer or artist, wear vintage clothes, get into character, and just practice their imagination.
F8 is designed to preserve the past, showcase what’s hip now with a mixed retail venue, but most importantly – accommodate the community. It has the potential to act as a catalyst– to regenerate Polk Street and bring some edge and scene to one of the last authentic neighborhoods in the city. I want to help.
About Laura Stepping, aka Mrs. Robinson. Road agent. Friend. Customer. Neighbor. I don’t own anything, but I have a sense of ownership and pride in what I do. I set the stage to make things happen. I heist life and brands I care about.