San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center
Occupying seven and one half acres, the San Francisco War Memorial and Performing Arts Center consists of the Veteran's Building and the Opera House, separated by an open air Memorial Court, and the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall (built in 1980). T
The complex was dreamed up and approved of by the citizens of San Francisco in 1918, as a tribute to veterans and to foster the development of the musical and art communities. Located in the Civic Center, the buildings were designed to complement the nearby City Hall and other civic structures.
The Opera House and the Veterans Building celebrated their grand opening in 1932. Today this area represents one of the grandest urban American civic complexes and regularly lures internationally acclaimed talent to its stages.
Located in the Veterans Building, Herbst Theatre has the singular historic distinction as the stage upon which the original 1945 United Nations Charter was signed by President Truman and heads of state from around the world. Commemorative meetings have taken place since then including, in 1995, the 50th anniversary of the United Nations with then President Clinton, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, and former presidents Carter, Ford and Bush on hand to celebrate the occasion within War Memorial walls.
Stylistically, the Herbst is elegantly understated and architecturally enduring. A grand anteroom welcomes guests with red velvet couches and a gilded glass table, while chandeliers illuminate the blue and gold leaf ceiling. The most magnificent visual features of the theater are the eight paneled colorful beaux-arts panels, created by English muralist, Frank Branwyn, for the Panama Pacific Exposition of 1915. Air, earth, water and fire, each created on two panels, depict the human relationship with these four elements.