Shown here is the front façade of one of the art-deco style buildings that were built in 1930 at California’s Yerba Buena Lighthouse Depot on San Francisco Bay, which later became known as the San Francisco Coast Guard Base.
The front facade was quite decorative and featured tall cement lighthouses mounted atop the two columns on each side of the front of the building. At the top of the center of the building, a cement shield was installed that featured the official emblem of the United States Department of Commerce under whose jurisdiction the United States Lighthouse operated. The emblem features a sailing vessel and a lighthouse, which, to this day, continues to be the emblem of the Department of Commerce, which is also referred to as the Commerce Department. On top of the shield was mounted an eagle, one of the official symbols of the United States of America.
In July of 1939 when the U.S. Coast Guard took over the U.S. Lighthouse Service, they almost immediately replaced the words LIGHTHOUSE SERVICE with COAST GUARD.
Sadly, the lighthouses that were once atop the columns are long gone, as is the eagle that was atop the Department of Commerce Emblem, which itself is now showing its age.
Art-deco is described as a style of architecture that came from France and was popular in the 1920s and 1930s. A number of lighthouses in the United States were built with the art-deco style, such as the William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse in Michigan and the Five Finger Lighthouse, Tree Point Lighthouse, Mary Island Lighthouse and Sentinel Island Lighthouse, all in Alaska.
This story appeared in the
May/Jun 2017 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.
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