46 WINTER/SPRING 2019 SPACES
ON THE RISE
The October 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake had rendered this Romanesque
Revival structure with two gilded domed towers unsafe, and it remained
shuttered for decades until now. Fulk, along with co-owners Chris Foley
and Palisade Builders, enlisted preservation architects Page & Turnbull
(who also restored the enormous Ferry Building) to judiciously transform
and expand the 13,000-square-foot multistory edifice
into a versatile club where members can celebrate and
promote the arts, design, fashion and food.
Starting with 20 subscriber members who will support 20 nonpaying artists, the society and its nonprofit
philanthropic arm, Saint Joseph’s Arts Foundation, hope
to attract as many as 400 members. Each subscriber
will be able to support an artist whose creativity will in
turn feed arts and education programs and residencies.
Many ticketed art exhibitions and theatrical and musical
performances will be open to the public.
Lounges upholstered in Pierre Frey fabrics and
communal dining tables float in the nave atop a
show-stopping 32-by-46-foot 1920s Persian rug made
for New York’s Union League Club. Alongside it, eight
equally sumptuous niches that were once private chapels
are now reservation-only curtained salons finished by
Dawson Custom Workshop.
A raised stage for performances, fitted into the domed
apse, is flanked by drinking bars and backed by Rome
Prize–winning artist Catherine Wagner’s 30-foot-high photographic mural
depicting the Room of the Scholars from the Capitoline Museum in Rome.
Several rooms on either side of the apse and within the reconstructed tow-
ers are hidden dining destinations, with the original stained oak trim, gold
accents, plaster walls and stained-glass windows all restored by artisans.
A new freestanding steel mezzanine and bridge structure — like a mod-
ern-day baldachin — in the center of the nave adds 9,000 square feet for
two art galleries and a full kitchen; the wide-ranging arts programming
will include immersive dinners by guest chefs and pop-up stores from
tony retailers. Already Saint Joseph’s is brimming with vintage glassware
as well as goods from French apothecary brand L’Officine Universelle Buly
and book publisher Assouline, fashion from Respoke and Lingua Franca,
and blooms from Mr. Fulk’s Flower Factory. Sculpture, photographs and
taxidermy by Dutch creatives Darwin, Sinke & van Tongeren; works by
Dutch artists Studio Drift and Nacho Carbonell; a trompe l’oeil mural
by Rafael Arana; and collectibles from the Carpenters Workshop Gallery
are also among the highlights.
Perhaps the last time something like this happened in the city was
during the 1980s when famed costume and set designer Tony Duquette
created his moody Duquette Pavilion of St. Francis in an abandoned
Fillmore District synagogue. The pavilion regrettably was destroyed by
fire in 1989, but perhaps Fulk’s Saint Joseph’s has risen as its conceptual
San Francisco’s 1913 Saint Joseph’s Church designed
by architect John J. Foley was recently restored and
reopened by designer Ken Fulk as the Saint Joseph’s Arts
Society, a club where members and the public can celebrate the arts. The apsidal altar is now a stage outfitted
for performances by musicians and dancers; upstairs, art
galleries overlooking the central nave showcase designs
by the likes of Studio Job and Studio Drift; and on the
main floor, purveyors of art books, fashion items and
flowers from Mr. Fulk’s Flower Factory hold court.