Hibernia Bank

Despite the evident neglect, and a recent, much publicized tagging,  this grandest of bank temples by Albert Pissis still shows why it was considered his masterpiece; marking as it did his transition from residential designer to creator of grand public buildings and his graduation from journeyman to master of his craft.

Richard and Robert Tobin, born in County Tipperary, emigrated to San Francisco from Chile.  Richard read law with a local judge and was admitted to the bar in 1853, the same year that he married.  In 1859, the brothers formed a Savings & Loan Society that catered to the Irish community.  Eventually it was re-chartered as a Bank.  In the 1960's it was absorbed into Security Pacific Bank of Southern California, which has also since been bought by Bank of America.  A suburban branch of the bank is remembered as the site of the armed robbery involving Patty Hearst.

The Tobins are one of the oldest wealthy families in California.  Richard's son, Richard Montgomery Tobin, was a US Ambassador to the Netherlands.  Another descendant, Agnes Tobin, was a poet of note and a celebrated translator of Petrarch and Dante. Tobin & Tobin, Richard's Law Firm, had a sesquicentennial some years ago.  The Tobins also intermarried with the DeYoungs and were involved in the ownership & management of the Chronicle for some time.

I first encountered the building in the 70's when it was no longer a bank but was serving as a Police Station.  Since then, it has changed hands a couple of times but just sits neglected.  Recently there appears to be some effort to revive it.  With a new Federal Building nearby and internet firms - including Twitter - moving in, the neighborhood may be moving in a different direction.  Plans have cleared city approval, and work seems to be underway.