The 415 Grand History Series
Part I: The Construction of the Fraternal Hall
The Fraternal Hall Association was founded in the early 1900s as a way of bringing South San Francisco's fraternal organizations - including the Druidic Order, the Sociedad Mutualista Mexicana, and the Portuguese Lodge, among others - together. Each fraternal organization in the city appointed one representative to the Fraternal Hall Association. Their ultimate goal was to find a space for their organizations to gather and host events.
In 1908, members of the South San Francisco Fraternal Hall Association decided to raise $25,000 ($650k in today’s money) to build the city’s first Fraternal Hall, a space where citizens and organizations from the city could gather and build community. It was in 1908 that the association would buy the parcel of land that 415 Grand now sits on. However, it would be difficult to raise such a large sum of money for the construction, and it took several leadership changes and almost a decade to do so (Armstrong guests can see a copy of the Association’s original capital stock certificate in our taproom).
According to a 1918 Enterprise article, the building’s basement would “contain bowling alleys, billiard and pool tables.” The architect, G.E. McCrea would also design a space that doubled as an auditorium and ballroom, which included a stage and balcony spaces accessible from the mezzanine. The building would also include lodgerooms, smoking rooms, and an ornate exterior typical of the period.
In May 1918, the SSF Fraternal Hall would open its doors to 300 members of the community with a dance. According to The Enterprise, the music was provided by a Professor Cappelli and the dance would continue into the following morning. The newspaper noted that “Admiration was expressed from all sides at the beauty of the ballroom and the appointments and decorations of the interior of the new home of fraternalism. Congratulations were showered on the promoters of the enterprise for providing the city with a meeting place of such splendid proportions and equipment.”
The Fraternal Hall would become a popular space for socializing; many of South City’s fraternal organizations would host dances, fundraisers, and other events for their members and for the community at large. In Part II of this series, we will look at some of these fraternal organizations in more detail.
Check back soon!