After 114 years, the Commonwealth Club has a permanent residence in San Francisco.
On Tuesday afternoon, Gloria Duffy, president of the classy civic organization and its most active members and supporters cut a big blue ribbon to open the renovated historic building at the back entrance on 113 Steuart St.; the front is at 110 The Embarcadero.
Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor Jane Kim, former Secretary of State George Shultz, Chief of Protocol Charlotte Shultz and Commonwealth Club Board Chair Richard Rubin were on hand, all touting the group’s mission to promote civil public dialogue, even though it seems to be in short supply these days.
Teddy Roosevelt, Jane Goodall, Ronald Reagan are among the speakers it has hosted through the decades, as was George Shultz, who said the group welcomed him, even as a Republican!, to roll out a Reagan-era speech, and it was an ideal forum. (He also thanked the club for providing his wife Charlotte with “one more venue from which to run things.”)
Appropriately, the gleaming waterfront building is the former home of the International Longshoremen’s Union.
Recalling the 1934 strike which workers won — after police fatally shot two longshoremen, prompting a 70,000-strong march down Market Street — union secretary-treasurer Willie Adams said, “You will see the ghosts, those who came before you, speaking to the hopes, dreams, aspirations of a nation.”
Rubin noted that the six-year, $28 million project — whose seeds were planted by former child star and diplomat Shirley Temple Black, the group’s volunteer president back in 1984 — was “accomplished without one dime of public funding.”
Also: Rabbi Beth Singer of Temple Emmanu-El and University of San Francisco President Father Paul Fitzgerald offered benedictions and a brass quintet of San Francisco Symphony musicians played “Fanfare for The Commonwealth Club,” newly composed for the occasion by San Francisco Conservatory of Music graduate student Michael Smith.
The third Cow Palace Burger Eating Challenge is underway at 7 Mile House, a 160-year eatery in Brisbane owned by Vanessa Garcia serving American Filipino comfort food; the massive sandwich is a double Angus patty, onions and onion rings, tomato, lettuce, sauce and fries, and the winner gets a year’s supply of burger meals and bragging rights. Folks who finish one receive a ticket to the Grand National Rodeo and an invitation to compete in Oct. 12 semi-finals; the finals are Oct. 22 at the rodeo. Last year’s victor, Sergio Raya, is apparently competing again. … Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is slated to appear on Jimmy Kimmel’s show tonight, in his first interview since leaving the job.
Singer Niall Horan of One Direction is 24. … Singer Fiona Apple is 49. … Designer Stella McCartney is 46. … Producer, director, actor Tyler Perry is 48. … Radio-TV personality Tavis Smiley is 53. … Actress Jacqueline Bisset is 73. … Singer Peter Cetera of Chicago is 73. … Singer David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat and Tears is 76.