Dept of Lost Urban Features: Inside (and Above) the Mission Armory

Anyone who has lived in SF’s Mission District knows the big, round brick armory building on 14th St. A few years ago, I had the chance to go inside thanks to a friend of mine who got access through volunteering for a movie shoot that was going on inside. We also found our way to the roof, but apparently weren’t supposed to do that and got yelled at. Here’s what I found out:

1. There are dozens (or maybe hundreds) of manger-sized subdivisions inside that presumably used to house horses. You could probably allocate studio space to half the serious artists in San Francisco here if you wanted to. But, apparently, it’s not seismically sound.

2. The Mission Creek still runs through the basement of the armory. Not in a roaring, uncontrolled torrent, but in a sort of highly-custodialized trickle. The Mission Creek is a water source that used to supply a now-extinct lake  by Dolores and 14th, to my undying fascination.

3. At the time I gained access, the entire building was being maintained by one guy who lived with this young daughter in van parked inside the building and- one can only presume- maintained a kind of creepy Shining-like relationship withe the place. (See first photo).

I’m told that the building was later sold to some sort of porn mogul, who now has parties there. Why it’s seismically fit for porn but not for artists is a mystery to me.


2 thoughts on “Dept of Lost Urban Features: Inside (and Above) the Mission Armory”

  1. That’s the “Pornery” to you, buddy. A little bird told me he paid $14M, but you know how little birds are about porn so who knows. There were half-hearted protests at the time, as if a porn studio weren’t a giant step up for that corner.

    It’s the kink-dot-dom guy, by the way. His old place was called the “Porn Palace” and I’m not sure whether the new one is called that by “insiders” but I’ve just called it the Pornery since he took it over.

    The best feature is that a giant Rainbow Flag flies from this intimidating military structure repurposed as a temple of profitable fetish. Must confuse the hell out of the tourists.

    I never went to any of his parties but some of my friends did.

  2. I too was completely fascinated with the Mission Creek thing..I even found out that one of the many random places I resided in was built “right on top” of the creek. I always thought, is this the same urban legend that sprouted the rumor that the Marina was built upon the old garbage dump?

Leave a Reply