Aquatic Park Bathhouse, Beach Street, West of Polk Street, San Francisco, San Francisco County, CA
Name changed from Maritime Museum to Aquatic Park Bathhouse on 7-29-02.
See also HALS CA-113 (Aquatic Park) for documentation of the surrounding landscape.
Significance: San Francisco's Aquatic Park was one of California's largest WPA construction projects. Time Magazine, Feb. 6, 1939, described the project as "one of the most sophisticated WPA building jobs in the U.S." The bathhouse is the most notable structure in the complex and exemplifies the streamlined Moderne style of architecture. Several distinguished artists were responsible for the adornment of the exterior and interior of the bathhouse. While the artwork of the Aquatic Park Complex is notable for its quality, it is also significant due to its surreal and abstract forms not commonly found in WPA projects. The work of artist Sargent Johnson is incorporated into the entrance and back porch of the bathhouse. Johnson was a nationally recognized sculptor and one of only two black artists in California who participated in the WPA program. Under the direction of Hilaire Hiler, an internationally recognized muralist, Johnson depicted abstract and stylized forms of sea life and nautical references by incising lines into green slate panels that surround the main entrance of the building and provide contrast against the white concrete of the building's walls. Directly below the slate panels are multilevel fountains lined with colorful tile mosaics. The design for the back porch continues with the use of maritime motifs rendered in multicolored tile mosaics. The public and the critics were overwhelmingly impressed with the artists work when building was officially opened on January 22, 1939.
Survey number: HABS CA-2225
Building/structure dates: 1936-1939 Initial Construction
Building/structure dates: ca. 1975 Subsequent Work
Building/structure dates: 2006-2016 Subsequent Work
National Register of Historic Places NRIS Number: 84001183