Fillmore Car Barn and Powerhouse

 Posted by on August 24, 2015
Aug 242015

Corner of Turk and Fillmore

Filmore Car BArn

This was one of the first and one of the largest substations built at the turn of the century when street cars were first converted to electric power.  The construction date has been documented as both 1902 and 1907.

United Railroads owner, the owner of the line when the building was built, was Patrick Calhoun.  Calhoun was a boxing fan and often hired professional fighters as motormen and conductors.  There was a gym to the right of the building, explaining why there are no windows on that side of the building.  That lot is now the Fillmore-Turk mini park.

Turk-Filmore Mini Park

The Fillmore-Turk Mini Park

United Railroads was the third iteration of the company. The first franchise, what would become the Market Street Railway, and the first street-railway on the Pacific coast, was granted in 1857 to Thomas Hayes. The line was the first horsecar line to open in San Francisco and it opened on July 4, 1860. A few years later, the line was converted to steam power utilizing a steam engine that was part locomotive and part passenger car.

After the 1906 Quake

After the 1906 Quake

By the 1906 earthquake it was the United Railroads of San Francisco.  After the quake the Fillmore Street line was the first to go back into service.

Inside the substation, photo courtesy of SFMTA

Inside the substation, photo courtesy of SFMTA

In 1944 all the street lines were absorbed into the Municipal Railway.  The Fillmore substation fed power to streetcars in the western half of the city until 1978, when a new substation was built at Sutter and Fillmore and the old one was declared surplus, it was then declared a landmark.

Turk and Filmore car barn

August 4, 1921 Photo courtesy of SF Public Library

The building has been sitting vacant and in bad shape – the ventilation tower collapsed and for a while the back wall was held up with posts.  The Redevelopment Agency bought it with plans to convert it into a community center. The plan never got off the drawing table, so the building was sold back to the city. At this point, it continues to sit empty with no foreseeable future.