Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Civic Center Chronicles

(reprinted from the ESLetter)

Since I am on sabbatical this semester, I decided to start it off by doing something I had wanted to do for several years:  volunteer at Ironwood Potbellied Pig Sanctuary near Tucson.  So there I was raking up pig poop when the texts started coming in saying that the Civic Center Campus building at 750 Eddy was closing down immediately because it was earthquake unsafe (as it has been, apparently, since the 1970s when the District bought it).    I don’t think any one of us could have been doing anything more fitting at that moment.

Built in 1910, it replaced the Cosmopolitan Grammar School which was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire.   The new building started out as Adams Elementary School.  By the 1940s, the school served adults as the Adams Continuation School where, according to the San Francisco News-Call Bulletin, “all races and creeds brush shoulders as they seek a common goal - United States citizenship - through competent coaching."   The competent coaching continued through 2014, although the building’s name has changed a couple of times, first in 1967 to Alemany, named after the Bishop who is credited with establishing the first adult English as a Second Language (ESL) classes in San Francisco, and then in 2009 to Civic Center to more accurately reflect its location in the center of the city.