The Casino in Golden Gate Park (1881-1896)

In 1881 the Commission signed an agreement with Rhinehart Daemon to operate a Casino in the Park for three years. The one story building stood just west of the Conservatory. facing east.

The structure had a large dining room, but also private dining rooms for discrete dining. By 1890 the Casino had developed a reputation for rowdy behavior and in an effort to clean it up, it was moved down the hill to face south over North Drive (JFK) and a second story was added.

One year later it failed and for a brief time was used as a museum and filled with stuffed animals. In 1895 a proposal was made to move the structure to the west end of Speed Road to be used as a club house for the horsemen. This proposal being rejected, the building was sold for $400 and moved out of the Park to 24th and Fulton where it continued its life as a roadhouse for many years.

In 1900 a new casino was proposed for the area later occupied by the Academy. There was great debate as to what kind of institution it would be. Wallace Irwin wrote in the Examiner:

“Now shall Golden Gate Park have a Casino? And if it has a Casino, shall it be a place where the bubbles break upon the lips of wine glasses; where the bottles are very cold and the birds very hot; where the gourmet may tickle his palate with sauces and gravies and relishes: Or shall it be a Casino were the beer shall foam over stein and beaker; where the pretzel shall tangle the teeth with thirst; where the meftwurst , the sauerkraut and the sausage lay claim to the gustatory delights? Or shall it be a Casino given over to the lemonade, the ginger pop, the milk shake and the sandwich?”

A temperate outcry opposed the selling of “spirituous liquors” in the Park and in 1910 voters approved a small structure for the Academy of Science. But we also have a brewery at Beach Chalet.