Famous Bayview District bar named historic landmark

(KGO)
January 29, 2013 8:16:08 PM PST
It may not be the Coit Tower or the famous Victorian homes known as the "Painted Ladies," but a bar in San Francisco's Bayview District has been designated a historic landmark. The city's board of supervisors took a final vote on the designation Tuesday.

It's easy to pass Sam Jordan's on Third Street without noticing it, but the bar has been a vibrant spot in the Bayview community for decades. "Sam Jordan originally wanted a place where African-American people come, feel welcome, and be at home," customer Barbara Duty said.

Back in the day, it was called Sam Jordan's Personality Club because the owner was larger than life. He was a longshoreman, a Golden Gloves boxing champ, and an entrepreneur who opened his nightclub in 1959. "Artists like Sammy Davis Jr. and artists of that era would come to San Francisco. They' d hang out downtown, but they wanted to come here and really lounge," said Sam Jordan's granddaughter Shannon Lacy.

The bar was also a political hub. Jordan was the first African-American to run for San Francisco mayor in 1963. District Supervisor Malia Cohen helped push for the bar's landmark status. "When we were discussing politics, debating any kind of a social matter, or if there was a loved one lost, everyone seemed to congregate around Sam Jordan's," she said.

This week, there were generations of customers gathering to celebrate the bar's 54 years of operation including a historic preservation consultant who volunteered his help with the landmark process. "I've just always believed in using landmark programs to recognize cultural history," historic preservation consultant Tim Kelly said.

More than the building itself, the designation honors the life and work of Sam Jordan who died in 2003. "I think he would really be most proud that the family is still involved, keeping thos legacy going," said Sam Jordan's son Allen Jordan.


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