San Francisco, CA – A Gay San Francisco supervisor has vowed to landmark the home where the late lesbian pioneering couple Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin lived throughout most of their 54 years together. Historic preservationists, friends of the couple, and Lyon and Martin’s daughter held a Zoom call on September 24 to discuss designating the house at 651 Duncan Street in the city’s Noe Valley neighborhood as a historic site.
District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said during the call that he would seek granting historic status to the property. “I do think this is clearly a home of historic value and needs to have that recognized and honored over time. Whatever we can do to help with that effort, we are happy to do,” said Mandelman, who represents Noe Valley at City Hall and is the lone LGBTQ member of the board. Mandelman legislative aide Jacob Bintliff, a gay man who formerly worked for the city’s planning department, added, “It is something we are very interested in moving forward with, and pretty quickly too.” On September 29 Mandelman’s office submitted the necessary resolution to trigger the approval process. It will be taken up by the supervisors’ land use committee in mid-October and, if passed by the full board, then sent to the city’s historic preservation commission for a vote before being sent back for a final vote by the supervisors. Mike Buhler, president of San Francisco Heritage, said during the virtual meeting that the local preservation group was supportive of seeking city landmark status for the Lyon-Martin house. “This is a uniquely important site,” said Buhler.
After first meeting in Seattle in 1952, Lyon and Martin moved to San Francisco. As recounted in the city’s LGBTQ historic context statement released in 2015, Lyon moved first and found a flat in what is now the Castro district in which Martin moved into on Valentine’s Day 1953. Two years later they bought the 756 square foot home atop a steep hill in Noe Valley. Their only requirement when house hunting was to buy one “with a view.” Their home would become a gathering place within the city’s lesbian community and the site of various meetings and events. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) addressed one gathering there while standing on the staircase of the two-level cottage reportedly built in 1908. Journalists and co-founders of the Daughters of Bilitis, the first political and social organization for lesbians in the United States, Lyon and Martin made history again in 2004 when they were the first couple to be married by San Francisco officials in defiance of California’s prohibition of same-sex marriage.
Earlier this month the news website SF Gate reported that their home had sold for $2.25 million. Property records show the buyer was David R. Duncan. The Bay Area Reporter was unable to reach him for comment. (Q Notes Online & Bay Area Reporter – Matthew S. Bajko at https://goqnotes.com/67751/sf-supe-vows-to-landmark-lyon-martin-house/)
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