The Mothers Building at the San Francisco Zoo – Masonry Repair Project


The Mothers Building was constructed in 1925 by notable architect George W. Kelham, although the murals and mosaics were not added to the building until 1933-1938. The building is one of the few remaining structures from the original Fleishhacker Playfield and Pool and was in continuous use until 2002, when the building was decommissioned. Today, the building is owned by the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, but managed and operated by the San Francisco Zoological Society.

There has been little alteration to the Mothers Building over time, and as a result, it maintains a high level of historic integrity. The building retains a number of character-defining features including original wood paneling, furniture, windows, doors, and the WPA murals. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places
in 1979.

The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department received a grant for $102,484 on October 27, 2014 from the Historical Preservation Fund Committee (HPFC) to conduct a building conditions assessment and seismic evaluation for the Mothers Building. The HPFC was created to help disburse funds for historical preservation purposes.

While short-term repairs include maintenance issues to protect from further water damage, the long-term repairs require seismic, mechanical electrical and plumbing system upgrades.

Scope of Work

Immediate and short-term repairs include: installing a new gas line and reactivating the heating and ventilation system; and masonry stabilization work to secure exterior elements.

Funding Sources

Funding for the immediate and short-term repairs includes $400,000 in add-backs from District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang.


Gas line installed in June 2017. Masonry Repair Project will start in August 2018 and will be completed by Fall 2018.

Mothers Building Structural Assessment Update

Architectural Resources Group (ARG) finalized the Structural Assessment for the Mothers Building in February 2016.  Input was received from Rec and Park, the Arts Commission, Office of Workforce and Economic Development, the Planning Department and other interested stakeholders. The Structural Assessment was funded by a grant awarded by the Historical … Continue reading

Visit the Archives