235 Valencia circa 1945

A member of the American Motorcycle Association Hall of Fame, Loren ‘Hap’ Jones was a pioneer in motorcycle riding, racing and culture. And he was the first civilian to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, silently weaving his Indian motorcycle through the crowd of pedestrians waiting to cross the new span in 1937, and then racing across as soon as the opening ribbon was cut.

Around 1940, Hap founded the Hap Jones Dealership at 235 Valencia Street, which specialized in the sale and service of Indian, Norton and BSA motorcycles. Hap sold his shares in the dealership in 1970, at which point the name of the shop, which closed in 1988, was changed to Dave Golden Motorcycles.

Last year, the current owners of the single-story Mission District building quietly met with the City’s Planning Department to discuss demolishing the existing structure in order to clear the way for a 50-foot-tall building with 32 condos over retail and parking to rise.

And while the structure itself wasn’t deemed worthy of being landmarked when surveyed by the City, a community-sponsored application to designate the building a Historic Landmark based on its association with Hap and importance to the development of motorcycling culture has been submitted to the City’s Historic Preservation Commission for review.

235 Valencia Street

If the Commission agrees to initiate landmark proceedings for 235 Valencia next month, a second hearing will be held to consider whether or not to recommend landmark designation to San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors.

16 thoughts on “The Race to Landmark or Raze Hap’s Old Mission District Haunt”
  1. Don’t forget the Doggy Diner head was landmarked (although not the greasy spoon it advertised). The calls for landmarking were something like…”I took my girlfriend there when I was in high school and it has good memories for me.”

    Lets see, “I bought my first motorcycle from this store and I loved that bike.” And the historic preservation movement wonders why it don’t get no respect.

    1. We need to raise the bar for landmark status, this city is getting out of control by allowing NIMBY folks to slap a landmark status on something to prevent development.

  2. If you want to preserve it, buy it. The structure is nothing. If someone is sentimentally attached put down an offer. I am sure the owner will entertain it.

  3. No need to delay the project. Require the developer to put some plaques up with Hap’s life story on the outside of the building. Do some sort of Indian, Norton, BSA motorcycle sculpture. Heck – if the bank building at 350 California Street can have multiple granite Walrus worked in the architectural motif – it should not be too hard or expensive to do something with miniature motorcycles cast discreetly in the concrete or inevitable brightly colored stucco.

    A little respect and creativity goes a long way – sadly bland and boring seems to be our new mantra…

  4. This was listed for sale around March 2015, and the “preservationists” really got on it and filed with Planning on April 3, 2015 to get this on the Historic Preservation Commission agenda this soon. They appear committed, I’ll give them that. Too lazy to search what Landmark under Article 10 means.

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