Noe Valley Voice October 2012

And Now For The Rumors Behind The News

The Mysteries of History

By Mazook

IN OLD NOE VALLEY: Yes, it’s time for our annual fall History Quiz, for all you Noe-it-alls. The answers can be found at the end of the column, so you can grade yourself. Methinks Noebody will get all of these correct. If you do, send me an email and I will make sure you get a prize: a copy of next month’s Voice. All answers have been certified by the Noe Valley Bureau of Investigation (NVBI). Good luck!

1. Where is the Axford House, and when was it built? Clue: The house is a Noe Valley landmark.

2. Where in Noe Valley is “Pioche’s Reservation”? Clue: It appears on the 1857 patent map that gave José de Jesus Noe ownership of Rancho San Miguel.

3. Who was the “Pigeon Lady” and where did she live?

4. What Noe Valley landmark, called “Leda and the Swan,” has recently been restored and returned to its home?

5. What did the Gray Brothers do in Noe Valley and where did they do it?

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NOEPALOOZA: The ninth annual Music in the Park was a neighborhood hit this year. Over 500 people attended the Sept. 8 event, organized by the Friends of Noe Valley. The party, held at Noe Courts park at 24th and Douglass, featured the Cadigan Dynamic jazz band (made up of recent high school grads), the Standards (Scottish dancers), and the very local District 8 rock band.

“This year [unlike in past years] we had four sponsors to help with the costs,” said Friends organizer Linda Lockyer, “including DavidsTea, Martha and Brothers Coffee, Vince Hogan from the Valley Tavern, and Recology.”

Lockyer said music was provided by the groups for free, and they had nine student volunteers from James Lick Middle School, “who were personable, polite, and professional, and we had almost 50 very well-behaved dogs.”

In a related item, newly established Philz Coffee saw lines out the door that day. Said manager Rob Nevitt, “It was a very good day for us, and we were really busy in the morning and sold 105 coffees in the hour from 10 to 11 a.m., which is a store record.”

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WORLDWIDE COBWEB: Halloween will soon be here and the NVBI has put out a warning that ghosts and goblins, and I shudder to think what else, may soon descend upon Downtown Noe Valley. Merchants are stocking up on treats and expect the parade on 24th Street to start just after noon and continue into the night.

The NVBI also predicts that all parking spots east of Church Street will be filled by dusk as thousands flock to see the spirits inhabiting Fair Oaks Street. Parking on Noe Hill too will be gone by 6 p.m., as masses of revelers attend the evening’s big costume party over in Eureka (our sister) Valley.

The One Stop Party Shop on Church and 28th streets, which has been outfitting the neighborhood in Halloween costumes for the past 25 years, should be very busy all month. Owner Martie Van De Vort says superheroes are the people to be. “The Avengers are very big this year, along with Spiderman and all the characters in Star Wars.”

She says she finds that “a lot of people come in who are making their own costumes and come in for the accessories and makeup, and we have a ton of wigs, which are always popular,” says Van De Vort.

Don’t miss the creepy Haunted House that Marilyn Lucas has created at her Hoffman Avenue house (in the 300 block) for the past 32 years. Always a family treat, the theme this year will be a “Witches Halloween Potluck Dinner Party,” Lucas says. Entrees will include “toad treats on toast, roasted rat ribs, mouse-tail tarts, fillet of bat wing, and spider legs in a cream sauce.” Mmmm.

You will be able to spot the party by the 1967 Dodge Coronet 440 in front of Lucas’ house. She calls it “the tombstone maker.”

The event is from 6 to 8 p.m., and Lucas will have special gift bags for the first 200 kids who dare to show up “for dinner.”

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LUXE LIFE: Commercial space at the Luxe, which is the new condo development on the corner of Church and 28th streets, will become the office of local property manager and longtime Noe Valley resident Stephanie Gordon.

“I have come full circle and come back to Noe Valley, and my office will be only six blocks from my home [at Sanchez and 30th],” says Gordon, who moved here 23 years ago and used to have a home office. “My first office was on the corner of Castro and Clipper [now Trends] from 2002 to 2005, and then I moved to a couple of other locations, most recently by Potrero Hill, at 199 Mississippi.”

The Church Street eco-cool lotion and skincare shop Heliotrope has posted a notice on its door at 1515 saying that by Halloween it will relocate to Valencia Street (806 Valencia near 19th Street). Heliotrope customers will still be able to buy their products on 24th Street at Loft 1513, which until recently was located in the adjoining Church Street storefront at 1513.

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TEAS TEASE: The guessing game of the month in Downtown Noe Valley seems to be when DavidsTea will be opening its new tea shop on 24th Street. The grand opening was originally scheduled for Sept. 8, but then it was pushed back to Sept. 22 (as reported here last month). Now DavidsTea says the doors will open Saturday, Oct. 27, and a gala tea-tasting will be offered free to all.

“Construction was moving along but then hit a snag with the city, which has been all cleared up now, but the delays caused the opening to be moved back,” said David’s spokesperson Carla Befera.

Next door at Holey Bagel, the staff should be all puffed up. The San Francisco Chronicle’s Food and Wine staff voted their bagels in the top five for the entire Bay Area. The Chron’s comment: “File these under the ‘tastes better than it looks’ category. ‘Pale and puffy,’ the bagels from this Noe Valley restaurant [sic] nonetheless had ‘greater density and snap.’” The Chron staff duly noted that Holey’s are one-third the cost of the $3 diva of bageldom, Schmendricks.

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PORK YOU: Chris Cosentino, executive chef at Incanto restaurant on Church at Duncan, is already a TV celebrity from his seasons on Iron Chef. Now he stars from his Noe Valley kitchen in a series of five- to six-minute videos on YouTube. You might want to check out a recent installment, added Sept. 18, titled “Day in the Life of a Pork-Centric Restaurant: Pork You with Chris Cosentino.” It had almost 5,000 views in two weeks, which ain’t exactly viral but not bad. Check it out at

Actually, Cosentino has some interesting culinary videos, also on YouTube. My favorite is “How to Debone a Chicken (Using Shun’s Honesuki Knife).”

At press time we learned that Cosentino had just won the title of Top Chef Master on cable’s Bravo, winning $141,000 for the Michael J. Fox Parkinson’s research organization. Wow, congratulations, Chris. We hope to interview Cosentino for the next ­issue.

On other plates, the NVBI reports that the restaurant on the corner of Church and 25th streets, which has taken about four years to build, appears to be ready to open. As you Rumors regulars know, the plans were for a Vietnamese/Thai fusion eaterie by the folks at the popular Regent Thai (Church and 29th streets). However, co-owner Jean Son says, “We are not ready yet, and it’s going slow.” Got it.

For all you Noe Valleyans who used to go down the hill to La Rondalla (20th and Valencia) for some great Mexican food and drink but stopped going and then noticed it had closed: déj vu. The ABC license was approved last month, and the Barrios family will try to take us back to a new La Rondalla. Good luck.

The Noe Valley Farmers Market reports that there has been a surge in Saturday morning shoppers. People really enjoy foraging through the nuts, fruits, and vegetables while listening to the live music. According to NVFM board member Peter Gabel, the weekly average attendance this summer has been “from 2,300 to 2,500 each week, when the weather’s good, and last Saturday [Sept. 22] attendance was 2,552.”

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ODDS, EVENS, AND ENDS: Odd Mondays, a Noe Valley speaker series overseen by Judith Levy-Sender and Ramon Sender, has some interesting guests on the odd Mondays of October. You might want to mark your calendar for Oct. 15, when the program features Nitza Agam and Sarah Isaias. The former authored a book, Scent of Jasmine, about her fiancé in the Yom Kippur War, and the latter, A New Song, a novel about an Arab-Jewish Israeli relationship.

On the other odd Monday (Oct. 29), Paul Hufstedler will discuss his book Never Felt Better, Looked Worse, Nor Had Less: Growing Up Off Center in the Middle West, which tells what it’s like to be gay and growing up in the Heartland.

The Odd Monday series is at Phoenix Books (3957 24th St.) and starts at 7 p.m. Admission is free. You also might be interested in the group’s 5:30 p.m. no-host dinner ($15) down the street at Haystack ­Pizza.

All of you registered voters (that’s everybody, right?) might want to go to the next Upper Noe Neighbors meeting, Oct. 10, 7:30 p.m., at the Upper Noe Rec Center (Day and Sanchez). There will be presentations by the League of Women Voters on several ballot propositions, including the school funding measures Prop. 30 and 38, and the one on labeling of genetically modified food, Prop. 37.

The UNN meeting will welcome Belinda Kerr, one of the new owners of Upper Noe’s only bar, O’Greenberg’s. (It’s at 29th and Dolores, and soon will be renamed Dolores Corner.) So it looks like there could be some no-host cocktails down the street after the meeting. I’d propose a toast to UNN president Vicki Rosen, who tirelessly keeps things moving and shaking at the Neighbors.

For all you Noe Valley bookworms and literati, make sure to mark the third week of March in your 2013 calendars. That’s when Friends of Noe Valley will have its seventh annual Noe Valley Word Week. Until then, get all of your many words together and submit them to the fair’s chair, Richard May.

May says the student writing contest, which was the 2012 Week’s most popular event, will be brought back in ’13, but some new events are in the offing. “One definite new event will be a Noe Valley Book Fair,” says May. “An author or illustrator with a published book, who resides or works in Noe Valley, will have the opportunity to take a table at a venue...and present and sell their work.”

For more info go to and let Friends know if you’d like to help out.

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WE WANT ANSWERS: So here they are.

1. The Axford House is the Stick-style house and carriage house located at 1190 Noe St. at 25th. It has a garden and an iron fence and a hay lift in the gable of the carriage house. The house, now an official San Francisco landmark (#133), was built in 1877 by William Axford, who lived and did business there as Mission Iron Works.

2: Pioche’s Reservation was a parcel within Jose Noe’s rancho that was purchased in the 1860s by developer Franois Pioche and partner L.L. Robinson. Today it would cover the area bordered by 22nd, Douglass, Elizabeth, and Grand View. In 1868, the partners created the “Noe Garden Homestead Union,” which they subdivided into 368 “shares” offered for sale at $1,200 each. Historian Mae Silver notes that in the homestead prospectus, Pioche said he bought the parcel because “this land was selected by José de Jesus Noe a great many years ago as the most eligible spot on the Rancho San Miguel to build his homestead.” Pioche also cited the fertile soil. As many of you living on that hill know, there are underground streams flowing down into Noe Valley from Twin Peaks, especially around Fountain and Homestead streets.

3. The “Pigeon Lady” was a woman named Anna Muru, who gained notoriety in the 1980s and ’90s by feeding the pigeons around her home on Sanchez near Cesar Chavez Street. When the flocks grew into the hundreds and left their droppings all over the homes and sidewalks in the area, neighbors began going to court to get restraining orders to make her stop the feedings. She didn’t stop. Finally in 1997, the besieged lady decided to sell her house at 1329 Sanchez (for $241,000) and move back to Parnu, Estonia. See a great story about Muru in the June 1997 Voice.

4. The Leda and the Swan statue has been returned to the courtyard of the landmark house on the corner of Sanchez and 21st streets built in 1929 by then San Francisco Mayor James “Sunny Jim” Rolph. Legend has it that the statue was a thank-you gift to a later owner of the house, who was an eye doctor and had performed successful surgery on the nephew of the donor, Mussolini.

5. The Gray Brothers, George and Harry, were well-known figures in the San Francisco of the early 1900s. They operated many stone quarries around the city, including one in Noe Valley, on the hill above 30th and Castro streets. The quarry was still there in the 1940s, and some very cool images of it (and also of the Axford house) can be seen online at Just click on “neighborhoods” and type in “Noe Valley.”

That’s 30. Ciao for now.