Bayview Opera House facelift begins today

The Bayview Opera House will begin its new facelift today with a ceremony celebrating the community's involvement in the building's upgrade. SWA Group, a local landscape architecture firm, is leading a pro-bono implementation valued at approximately $100,000. The event and work on the historic building will help SWA Group celebrate its 50th anniversary.

The building, which houses the Ruth Williams Memorial Theatre, has stood in the Bayview-Hunters Point District since 1888. It seats 300 people and is the first and oldest opera house in San Francisco.

In 1989, the Bayview Opera House Inc. began running programs, offering classes and throwing events that would benefit the community.

The historic building will now be transformed thanks to efforts made by SWA Group, the San Francisco Arts Commission and a number of community volunteers, including some 20 neighborhood children.

“The Bayview Opera House is a San Francisco landmark, dearly loved by the community,” said Arts Commission President PJ Johnston. “The landscape improvements are but one part of a longer-term effort of revitalizing the Bayview Opera House, creating a neighborhood park and transforming this location to become the heart of the Bayview.”

Upgrades to the opera house will include a marquee, a garden cafe, a story garden, new planting and lighting, enhancing the 100-year-old trees on the property and improvements to the outdoor theatre.

An information kiosk will be set up in time for the event in order to inform the community about the landscape, sustainability and what role trees can play in the area. SWA designed the kiosk with the roof covered in about 1,500 potted plants, said SWA Principal Cinda Gilliland.

SWA Group decided to hold its 50th anniversary meeting in San Francisco where its original office is located. But instead of a typical symposium, they had the idea to have an event that would let the staff and associates give back to the community while the principals had their meeting.

“The Opera House landscape improvements are meant to have elements that are both permanent and temporary, and enhance the property exterior while engaging passersby and visitors into a more pleasing green-scape,” said SWA Principal Rene Bihan. “The broader goal is to bring life to the Opera House itself and to a very visible gateway to the Hunters Point district.”

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, along with members of the Arts Commission and SWA Group, are scheduled to appear for the dedication and celebration at noon at the Bayview Opera House, 4705 Third Street.

— Bay City News

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