This weekend was jam-packed with activity, including but not limited to trekking around the Sutro Baths ruins, eating delicious cookies and drinking lattes at a cafe near Ocean Beach, taking the Muni to the Chinese New Year Parade, surfing, and rock climbing. We also walked around Sutro Heights Park and saw these regal lion statues.
Sutro Heights Park was the estate of Adolph Sutro, land developer and a mayor of San Francisco. The estate once contained many Romanistic statues and a plant conservatory.
In 1881, Adolf Sutro purchased 22 acres (89,000 m2) of undeveloped land at the edge of the city, which included a promontory overlooking the Cliff House and Seal Rocks with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, Mount Tamalpais, and the Golden Gate. Taking advantage of the views, Sutro turned this property into Sutro Heights, an elaborate public garden that was filled with decorated flower beds, statues, forests and vista points.
Sutro built his home on a rocky ledge overlooking the Cliff House and Seal Rocks just south of Point Lobos and north of Ocean Beach. The grounds consisted of a spacious turreted mansion, a carriage house and out buildings set in expansive gardens. The estate dominated the area. He spent in excess of a million dollars trying to recreate an Italian garden. By 1883, Sutro opened his gardens to the public and allowed strolling the grounds for the donation of a dime. That small fee helped to pay the fifteen gardeners he employed to maintain the grounds.
Adolph Sutro died in 1898, land rich but cash poor following his frustrating tenure as Mayor of San Francisco. His daughter Emma lived on the estate at Sutro Heights until her death in 1938. The house is visible on the 1938 layer of Google Earth, located at 122°30’42.98”W 37°46’39.71”N. Becoming too expensive to maintain, the family donated the estate to the City of San Francisco that same year. The city demolished the buildings and removed the statuary with the exception of the winged lions at the gate and a few select pieces. The estate became Sutro Heights Park.