Built in 1888 by a Masonic Lodge chapter, the Bayview Opera House stands at 4705 Third Street, in the heart of San Francisco’s Bayview. The name on the entrance still says “South San Francisco Opera House,” a leftover from the hall’s first years, when South San Francisco was not yet incorporated as a city. The theater’s history is a full one – vibrant Vaudeville productions, disrepair after the 1906 earthquake, sales, functioning as a dance hall, a social hall, an arts space. In 1968, it was designated a city landmark (#8 to be exact) and in 1989, the Bayview Opera House began its most current life as a community arts programming destination (the programs are funded by the San Francisco Arts Commission).
Perhaps the Opera House’s most infamous scenes, however, are from September 1966, when Bayview Hunters Point community members started demonstrating, to protest the police killing of a sixteen-year-old boy. The protests lasted for three days, when the governor called in the National Guard. To protect themselves from police clad in riot gear, community members (including many children) took shelter in the Opera House. Below is an SFPL photo showing officers in front of the old Opera House. Next to it, is a contemporary photo of the renovated Opera House, at the center of Bayview Hunters Point community life (photo from https://www.bvoh.org/).