Bliss & Faville

Walter Bliss was born in 1872 in Nevada, where his father was a successful entrepreneur.  He was sent east to M.I.T. for his education.  It was there that he met William Faville, several years his senior, who was born in California, but grew up in New York.  After M.I.T. they spent several years working in the celebrated New York firm of McKim, Meade & White, where they no doubt were introduced to neo-classical principles of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts

In 1898, they decided to start their own firm, with San Francisco as its base.  They continued together until 1925 when they dissolved the partnership amicably; contributing much to the rebuilding of the city in the years following 1906.


The Union Savings Building of 1908 stands at the foot of Grant Street at Market.  In many ways it is modeled after the Pantheon in Rome, with its dome and pediment.  It is no longer a Bank, but now serves as a clothing store, an example of intelligent re-use of legacy buildings. 

I confess I am not very fond of this building, particularly in light of some of the pair's other works, but there are two elements I fell in love with...

This battered bronze side door

and these graceful corbels framing the main entrance