The Palace of the Legion of Honor is probably among George Applegarth's best known works. It also is illustrative of much of his work. It is not especially original in appearance, being a three-quarter scale replica of the Palace of the Legion d'Honeur in Paris. But, to my mind, in a much grander setting. On the other hand, the building incorporates less obvious innovations. For example, the walls are thicker than normal and honeycombed with flue tiles in a largely successful attempt to stabilize internal temperatures despite the rather broad daily climate swings that result from its location above Lands End and the Golden Gate.
Applegarth was the favorite architect of Alma De Brettville Spreckels, who commissioned the work. While financed by public subscription and raised as a World War One Memorial, its collection was anchored by Mrs. Spreckels collection of original Rodins, including a casting of "The Thinker" which stands in its forecourt. Today, it holds most of the city's collection of Classical and European art.
While the front of the building is best known, being the entrance to the museum, it can be worthwhile to amble around the structure and see the details at the back, as well as the views of the city and the "Gate" and the Memorial art dotting the grounds.