The Second Cliff House
Adolph Sutro spent $75,000 to rebuild and furnish the Cliff House in grandiose style. Fashioned after a French chateau, the second Cliff House opened in February of 1896 and boasted eight stories, four spires, and an observation tower 200 feet above sea level. Though never a hotel, it served as an elegant site for dining, dancing, and entertainment. The third floor held a photo gallery, reception room, and multiple parlors with beautiful panoramic views. The second floor held 20 private lunchrooms, an art gallery, and a gem exhibit. At ground level, there was a large dining room, parlor, bar, numerous private dining rooms, and the kitchens.
Visited by two U.S. presidents, William McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt, as well as many other famous citizens of the world, the Cliff House remained a favorite of the local population. Sutro’s streetcar line and his desire to share the luxury and splendor of his new Cliff House with the general public combined to bring crowds of San Franciscans to the coast. In 1898 Adolph Sutro died after a long illness. In June of 1907 the Cliff House was leased to John Tait of Tait’s at the Beach, and seven partners. On September 7, 1907, after extensive remodelling and just prior to reopening, the most resplendent and beloved of all Cliff Houses burned to its foundation. This exquisite building had survived the 1906 earthquake only to succumb to a raging fire that destroyed it in less than two hours.