The White House, San Francisco, California



In 1909, Rafael Weill & Company moved to a
new, terra-cotta faced structure after its original
store was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake.


The gleaming white facades of the 1909 building were
wholly appropriate to the store's name; though the
building became a icon in San Francisco, the store
spread across the block to Grant Street in various
annexes and additions.


Like its competitor, The City of Paris, The White House
was known for its french atmosphere.  In fact he store
bore more than just a passing resemblance to the great
Parisian department stores like "Au Bon Marché."



The White House (1854)
Raphael Weil & Co.
256 Grant Avenue
San Francisco, California 

DOuglas 1-4000








Downstairs
Housewares • Home Appliances • Unpainted Furniture  Patio Furniture  Shoe Clinic  Photograph Studio
The White House Downstairs Section

Street Floor
Jewelry  Fine Jewelry  Bags  Small Leather  Accessory Shops  La Boutique  Neckwear  Hat Bar  Blouses  Sweaters  Separates  Casual Dress Shop  Street Floor Lingerie  Campus Choice Accessories  Cosmetics  Drug Sundries  Shoe Salon  Notions  Stationery  Books
Street Floor • Post St. Bldg.
Men's Store Men's Furnishings  Men's Sportswear  Men's Clothing  Men's Hats  Gentlemen's Shoes

Second Floor
Terrace Shop  Grant Avenue Shop  Dress Circle  Gown Salon  Young Sophisticates  Sports Shop  Coat Salon  Suit Salon  Women's Shop  Dress Salon  Chandelier Room  Fur Shop  Bridal Salon  Young Couture  Millinery Salon  Nurses' Uniforms  Maternity Shop  Negligees  Lingerie  Foundations  Robes
Junior Colony Junior Sportswear  Junior Dresses  Junior Coats  Little Shop
Children's World Infants' Shop  Children's Shop  Girls' Shop  Hi-Shop  Children's Shoes
Second Floor • Post St. Bldg.
Boys' Shop

Third Floor
Gift Shop  China Shop  Glassware  Silver Shop  Linens  Pictures  Mirrors  Lamps  Bedding  Casa Mexicana  Campus Choice Furnishings  Rugs  Oriental Rug Bazaar
Third Floor  Post St. Bldg.
Furniture  Slumber Shop

Fourth Floor
Radio-Record Shop  TV Shop  Garden Court  Sporting Goods  Toyland  Antoine Salon de Beauté  Trim-A-Home Shop  Trim-A-Tree Shop  Tea Room
Fourth Floor • Post St. Bldg.
Art Needle  Sewing Machine Center  Textiles

Fifth Floor
Offices  Credit  Cashier  Personnel


Street Floor
Beauty Salon  Jewelry  Fine Jewelry  Bags  Small Leather  Accessory Shops  La Boutique  Neckwear  Hat Bar  Blouses  Sweaters  Separates  Street Floor Lingerie  Campus Choice Accessories  Cosmetics  Drug Sundries  Shoe Salon  Notions  Stationery  Books
Men's Store Men's Furnishings  Men's Sportswear  Men's Clothing  Men's Hats  Gentlemen's Shoes


Second Floor
Terrace Shop  Casual Shop  Grant Avenue Shop  Dress Circle  Gown Salon  Young Sophisticates  Sports Shop  Coat Salon  Suit Salon  Women's Shop  Dress Salon  Chandelier Room  Fur Shop  Bridal Salon  Young Couture  Millinery Salon  Nurses' Uniforms  Maternity Shop  Negligees  Lingerie  Foundations  Robes
Junior Colony Junior Sportswear  Junior Dresses  Junior Coats  Little Shop
Children's World Infants' Shop  Children's Shop  Girls' Shop  Hi-Shop  Children's Shoes  Boys' Shop


Third Floor
Gift Shop  China Shop  Glassware  Silver Shop  Linens  Pictures  Mirrors  Lamps  Bedding  Casa Mexicana  Campus Choice Furnishings  Rugs  Oriental Rug Bazaar  
Furniture  Slumber Shop  Housewares • Home Appliances • Unpainted Furniture  Patio Furniture  Radio-Record Shop  TV Shop  Garden Court  Sporting Goods  Toyland  Trim-A-Home Shop  Trim-A-Tree Shop  Art Needle  Sewing Machine Center  Textiles






Oakland
Kaiser Center
20th and Webster
July, 1960
126,000 s.f.




Coming in due course.



34 comments:

  1. Good job on this, BAK. I just inherited a carving set from my mother purchased from this store. And this is most of the scarce data about this store that I can find.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks... My childhood memories include TWH --- My God-father was with The Men.s Furnishing Dept 1950's-60's --- he took my sis and I there to 'show us off', as he had no children of his own - would buy us very nice things- good perfume too !!! Love the Christmas tree at TWH !!!
    LOL- of course, we always HAD to be wearing WHITE GLOVES when going downtown SF then !!!!
    From, Lynda in Austin,Texas

    ReplyDelete
  3. I bought a small painting of a Tudor house that has a sticker on the back that says, "The White House Picture Dept. San Francisco." The artist signature I believe says EPSHEIM. Does anyone have any clue as to who this painter is/was? I am so curious.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I just purchased a book: Bird Gossip. Author Harriette Wilbur. First edition, copyright 1920. There is a sticker on the back binding: The White House/San Francisco/Books. The book was in a Lafayette thrift shop.


    ReplyDelete
  5. I have a picture I inherited from my great aunt that has a 'The White House Picture Department San Francisco' sticker on it. She lived most of her life in SF. At one time she was secretary for the mayor of SF. The paper on the back of the pic is so brittle that it is crumbling off.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you for this article, as it closes a loop for me.

    I have a set of 20 pieces of wooden dollhouse furniture, circa 1920, some of which still have a red and white "The White House/San Francisco, Cal, Toys" sticker on them. As the pieces were played with, it's no surprise that most no longer have that emblem on them.

    ReplyDelete
  7. We have two paintings by Pierre Tourneau. Each has The White House Picture Dept. sticker on the back. We inherited them years ago from our aunt, who lived in San Francisco most of her long life. We are so grateful to finally find some sort of connection & hope you will be able to tell us more about the artist; we have gleaned a little bit of information on the internet about him. Without dismantling the frames, we have no idea whether these charcoal drawings are genuine originals or prints. Any clues to how we can tell? We live in a small town without access to any professionals. Thank you for any help you can give us.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I really can't say anything about the art sold by The White House. Without contacting some sort of art gallery (via e-mail, maybe?) especially in San Francisco, where someone might be familiar with the store, I could only suggest long hours searching through newspaper microfilm (where available) to see if an exhibit by this artist might have been held in the store's painting department. Good Luck in your search.

    -Bruce

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thank you so much for doing this! I just put up for sale in my Etsy shop a first edition 1912 book Mary Frances Cookbook and on the back page was a tiny sticker that said "Whitehouse, San Francisco, $2.00". It brought back so many memories for me as my mother and Nana would take me there as a child until it closed. So in looking for a reference to include in my description I found your page. And I am so a ballroom dancer, and now I teach swing. And my father was the head of advertising at Weinstocks. My family came to SF in the late 1800s. I am now going to look through everything you have put up. Gumps, Ransohoffs, City of Paris...sigh.
    Alexis at gotta-swing.com

    ReplyDelete
  10. My husbands grandmother worked at the White House in the Tea Room in the 1890's. We think she prepared food or she could have been a waitress. Her name was Anna Poey (Pinana after marriage) and she was from France. She is the missing link in our family tree. I am hoping that there is some way to find that missing link.
    Donna

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a couple of Limoges dishes that I found in a thrift store that I believe are the pattern used in the tea room. What an amazing slice of history I have found!

      Delete
  11. My grandfather was involved with accounting/management of this property in the 50s/60s. During its renovation at that time, he received two wall clocks he told me used to hang in the lobby of the White House department store. They're about 2 feet in diameter, green marble faces, gold hands and frames. They hang in my office now. Does anyone remember them? Would love to confirm the provenance.

    ReplyDelete
  12. My husband is the great great grand nephew of Raphael Weill. We just found the book TWH employees gave to his nephew Michel Weill when TWH closed in mid-1960s. I am interested in hearing anyone's stories of TWH and ask them to please contact me. jane@innovationsthatwork.com

    ReplyDelete
  13. My Grandmother Sarah Aiello worked at the San Francisco TWH in the WWII years. She was in the Alterations department as she was a seamstress. She always said it was a wonderful store.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I inherited a pair of earrings that came in a box from The White House in SF. Did they sell real gems or is this just costume jewelry?
    SWMBO

    ReplyDelete
  15. I am a third generation San Franciscan and I definitely remember the White House. I recently went to a vintage clothing exhibition and bought a wonderful dress from the 1940s with the White House label in it. Great dress, great memory.

    ReplyDelete
  16. i have one of the mantle clocks that were on display in the store.it was made in france with the serial no.1439. do you have any idea what these clocks are valued at,if anything.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I have been looking for years for a photo or a video of the Christmas Santa calling Happy Hollie. This was a White House advertisement...or so I thought. As a youngster I was scared to death of Happy Hollie and now I want to see a photo to see what all the fuss was about. Do you know where I can find one?

    ReplyDelete
  18. I remember the Grant Ave store had those wonderful glass-doored elevators, and smiling elevator men in smart uniforms who ran them. I recall reading somewhere that the store's downfall was in not expanding to the suburbs along with their competition (The Emporium, Capwell's, Macy's). Even the City of Paris had stores in the suburbs, but The White House only had downtown stores in SF and Oakland.

    ReplyDelete
  19. My Aunt worked there in the 50's, She worked in cosmetics. I do recall the cool elevator with operator in uniform and gloves.

    ReplyDelete
  20. In 1959, when I was 9, my family moved from NJ to CA. We stayed at a hotel on Sutter, and visited The White House often during our 2 week stay. My older sister and I always wore white gloves and hat when touring SF. On one TWH visit, I ran up the escalator the wrong way and received a gash on my leg above my foot which warranted stitches. However the TWH nurse gave my wound a butter-fly stitch. To this day I call it The White House scar.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have a large set of the doll house furniture, many pieces still with the label and some even with a price. They belonged to my mother and aunt who grew up in Berkeley, and they were in my grandmother's basement for many years. I inherited them when I was 12 and they are well played with but still mostly in good condition. Some with inlaid wood pictures, a chair with an inlaid swastika on it (this is the 20s, remember, so the symbol was just an Indian or Asian symbol of something) ---cabinets with sliding glass doors and little doors that open, chest with drawers with tiny pulls, dresser with three-part mirror. . . treasures!

    ReplyDelete
  22. have a large collection of the doll house furniture from The White Hosue, most with the label still intact and some with a price written on it! cabinets with little doors that open or sliding glass doors, chest with drawers with tiny pulls, table wiht inlaid wood picture of Mt. Fuji and Japanese landscape, a chair with a seat that lifts up, and on the seat is an inlaid design that includes a swastika -- (this is well before the Nazis appropropriated it) -- and much more. My mother and aunt grew up in Berkeley, and this collection was in my grandmother's basement for many years until I finally inherited it at age 12. Have found one other piece since, in an antique store in Redwood City maybe 10 years ago. . They are a treasure.

    ReplyDelete
  23. like most of you here, I have fond memories of The White House - riding the "L" Taraval streetcar from home to Market Street. Exploring The Emporium and The White House Department stores. As we moved on with our lives and the stores closed down and seemed forgotten, something happens to awaken our minds. While at Urban Ore in Berkeley, there was a wooden seesaw made of oak for sale that I eventually purchased. When I got it home and was cleaning it up, I found a brass plate affixed that stated it came from The White House San Francisco. I have tried researching it on the internet with no information available. I'm thinking it was a catalog item - probably 1930 or 40s. Now, I'm hoping that someone reading this will offer some light on this interesting piece. Thank You

    ReplyDelete
  24. does anyone know if the store produced a cookbook? My dad remembered a cookbook his mother had they live in the Bay Area, he referred to it as the white house cookbook. thank you! love all the history!

    ReplyDelete
  25. I have seen cookbooks from the 1930s that are named with certain department stores on the title page, e.g. "The Crowley-Milner Cookbook" but in reality, they are standard cookbooks (albeit very nice ones) that were produced by a firm and specifically labeled, due to the high opinion customers held of department stores as arbiters of taste and fashion in the day. I wonder if it was one of those. They can be found on eBay occasionally. I donated mine to a collector. My wife rejected it because it was very out-of-date in terms of the actual recipes.
    -Bruce

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thank you BAK!! I will check it out!

    ReplyDelete
  27. My grandfather and his brother built and installed the display cases when it opened in 1909.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I have a wooden chest that I use as a coffee table with cast iron hinges and latches that has a metal plate inscribed with " the white house san francisco" not sure the year it was manufactured but it is wonderful to know where it came from. Do you know what accuses the building now? Would love to visit next time I'm in the city. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the Emporium is located at 835 Market St. The 102 foot wide dome was lifted approx. 60 feet which allowed the building underneath to be gutted and the interior rebuilt in the 1990s. It is now called Westfield San Francisco Centre

      https://www.westfield.com/sanfrancisco

      Delete
  29. My mother worked at the White House in the early 1940's - she played the cello as part of a string quartet in the lobby. I still have the sterling silver baby cup and spoon she got for me from the WH with a an embossed date of May 1942, just before I was born.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I have a large steamer trunk on the side it says the white house,san francisco.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I am looking for a 1932 edition of the San Francisco White House Department Store's 1932 newsletter. Should anyone know where I can find a copy, please respond to paula@petalumamuseum.com.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I just purchased a beautiful teapot marked - Especially made by Theodore Haviland Limoges France for The White House San Francisco, Cal. I only paid $2.00 for it at a garage sale. I can not find any info. on it and was curious if anyone knows when it might have been available at The White House. I has little pink roses with a gold and black band and a gold dome on lid.

    ReplyDelete

Comments