The 1893 San Franciscan Theatre Circuit with Fred Caley

1.07pm, Saturday 15th September, Kearny and Bush Streets, San Francisco downtown, CA, USA

OK, folks, I can tell you one thing for absolute sure: Fred Caley was fit! He walked most of what I’ve done on the number 1 and 14 buses, and he did well!

It’s a bit disappointing as all three of the theaters that Fred went to whilst in San Francisco burnt down, but I’ve covered the ground, and it’s a terrific way to look at the city, trying to imagine what it would have been like to come straight from the rural township of Angaston in country Australia – to this sort of cosmopolitan city seething with every nationality and distraction imaginable. It must have been like walking into a kaleidoscope! But Fred did well, presented the wines and canned fruits of Yalumba to the wine and press fraternity of the day, and reported it to his father in a very disciplined manner via regular written reports of the results and his observations on the parallel industry here across California. And he was able to squeeze in a few nights out at the theatre! I like the way that the man operated very much!

Here’s what I could find.


Firstly, after four expensive nights at The Palace Hotel in downtown San Francisco, Fred found lodgings at the bottom of the Nob Hill district at 1127 Bush Street – and it’s the left hand building in the photo of that group of three. It’s solid rock under Nob Hill, so most of the buildings survived the 1906 earthquake, but many were gutted by the subsequent three-day fire – sparked by all the gas lines criss crossing the city.

Then I’ve tracked the three theatre sites after that, and they’re laid out with photos in the following order:


The Baldwin Theatre (est 1875) at the corner of Powell and Market, where the cable car turns around. The site is the Gap Building and I’m not quite sure if that’s the original shell.


The Grand Opera House at Mission and Third streets – Fred saw “The Merchant of Venice” here in 1893, but there’s nothing of any age here now. I suspect that the Opera House was on the corner occupied today by the Yuerba Buena Centre for the Arts.

The California Theatre (est 1869) on Bush Street above Kearny, where Fred saw Robert Gaylord (apparently a star of the day) in show called “Sport McAllister”, which apparently was a satire on the influence of the ‘Irish element’ on the American politics of the day.

So there you have it folks. The Theatre Circuit 1893 style with Fred. I like this bloke, folks, and I only missed out on crossing paths with him by 119 years. I’d like to think he’d be proud of me, because I’ve managed to make time in my schedule to get to the theatre as well. Only my big night out will be in a month’s time in New York City. It just so happens that what is being predicted as “one of the hottest tickets this Broadway season” is a stage play called “The Heiress”. It opens on November 1st for a limited run with David Strathairn, Jessica Chastain, and Dan Stevens – the Broadway debut for both Chastain and Stevens. Now David Strathairn is tops. He channelled Arthur R Murrow in the movie “Good Night and Good Luck”. Jessica Chastain is being talked about as the new Meryl Streep. And Dan Stevens? Just watch that absolutely fabulous UK television series “Downton Abbey”. That will explain why I tracked down a ticket for the first preview performance for “The Heiress” at 3pm on Sunday October 7th. In a town where Al Pacino is on the boards this season in “Glengarry Glen Ross”, have no doubt … the “in the know” folks will be at “The Heiress”

Any rate, I’d better get packed, as there will be a train at Emeryville station this evening heading to Portland, Oregon – and I’d better be on it. See ya when I’m across the northern border.

One response to “The 1893 San Franciscan Theatre Circuit with Fred Caley

  1. Steve in the wine room at Yalumba

    Great story Jane, you have been wanting to do Fred’s footsteps for a long time now, so pleased you can tick that off the list! Sure he will be with you watching The Heiress!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s