Pacific Telephone Building, San Francisco (Image Source:
A “plugged-in” tipster notes the news that Wilson Meany Sullivan is in contract to purchase the 26-story Pacific Telephone Building at 140 New Montgomery for $345 a square foot with plans to spend an additional $500 a square foot converting it from an office building to “a five-star hotel and condominium tower, with a spa, restaurant and bar.”

Architecture firm Hornberger + Worstell has been hired as project architect, along with historic preservation specialists Page & Turnbull. Plant Construction Co. will be the contractor on the project. Mark Hornberger, a principal with Hornberger + Worstell, said the light gray terra cotta tapered skyscraper is a “wonderful historic landmark property and we want to be very careful about the work we do.” He said the building could support about 100 residences and 70 to 80 hotel rooms and would be “more intimate than the St. Regis with an even higher level of service.” The deal includes a 441-space, eight-level parking garage on Natoma Street behind the Pacific Telephone Building.

The Jazz Age building was designed by Timothy Pflueger — who also designed 450 Sutter St., the Pacific Coast Stock Exchange and the I. Magnin building — and was considered radically contemporary when constructed. The building, with 13-foot terra-cotta eagles perched on its four corners, retains many of its original detailing, including the black marble lobby and bronze elevator doors, wood-paneled board rooms with working fireplaces.

And on a side note, our tipster is led to wonder: “What happened to the word deluxe? Is ‘luxe’ a level higher, has deluxe become dated – reserved for ‘mid-century’ descriptions? Did marketers feel a need to invent another word – like world-class (which thru overuse now has no impact?)” [Cue the Jeffersons theme song.]
S.F. tower to become luxe hotel [San Francisco Business Times]
Pacific Telephone Building gets heavy interest from developers [SFGate]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by anom

    One of my favorite buildings, and another example of what the new San Francisco will be. This “used” to be the “Wall Street of the West”, now it is all boutique condominiums. I guess some day we will all hop on the 101/280 and drive south 30 or 40 miles to work and live in what used to be a real working city and walk around at night and point to where things “used” to be. “Over there used to be the most powerful bank headquarters, over there used to be the Pacific Stock Exchange, over there used to be a real working port. ” What a boring place this is becoming.

  2. Posted by sonofsoma

    You didn’t hear it from me…
    The Waldorf-Astoria, San Francisco

  3. Posted by Philbert

    As a Pacific Bell employee in the 1980s I was in and out of this building many times. There were many amazing this about it. The 26th floor had a cafeteria with incredible views of the city. Up until the 1950s the cafeteria was for “ladies only”. No men were allowed. There was an incredible “Art Deco” Auditorium near the top of the building, complete with stage, proscenium and curtain.
    The building also retained a staff of female elevator operators until the fifties. There was a fair sized library for Pacific Bell employees which included the current best sellers along with technical books. The lobby was amazing with its fresco ceiling and brass elevator doors.
    I hope the architects respect Pflugger’s original design and details. He also designed the astoundingParamount Theatre in Oakland.

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