Liberty House, San Francisco, California



Liberty House came to the mainland in 1970, and built this multi-level
store at the corner of Stockton and O'Farrell in San Francisco
 to replace the City of Paris which it had occupied previously.

Liberty House (1974)
Stockton at O'Farrell
San Francisco, California


SAN FRANCISCO STORE DIRECTORY

First Floor
Fine Jewelry (825) • Fashion Jewelry (141) • Cosmetics (121) • Handbags (171) • Small Leathers (170) • Hosiery (251) • Women's Slippers (885) • Fashion Accessories (230) • Boulevard Sportswear (394) • Boulevard Blouses (385) • Stationery (200) • Greeting Cards (205) • Luggage
Men's One San Francisco
Men's Store Men's Accessories (513) • Men's Furnishings (511) • Men's Ties (510) • Men's Shirts (510) • Men's Moderate Sportswear (515) • Men's Levis (575) • Young Men's City Shop (570) • Men's Clothing (505) • Men's Outerwear (501) • Men's Shoes (631) • Boys' Shop 8-20 (550)

Second Floor
Concept II (388) • Underfashions (458) • Daywear (443) • Loungewear/Robes (400) • Sleepwear (442) • Junior Lingerie (447)
Junior World Junior Dresses (374) • Junior Coats (373) • Junioe Sportswear (375) • Young Juniors (377)
Young World Infants (461) • Infants' Furniture (462) • Toddlers (467) • 3-6x (468) • 7-14 (471) • Boys' Shop 4-7 (556) • Boys' Shop 8-20 (550) • Children's Accessories (469) • Children's Shoes (431) • Teen Shop

Third Floor
Misses' Sportswear (381) • Active Sportswear (383) • Updated Sportswear (392) • Clubhouse Sportswear (387) • Designer Sportswear (391) • Career Fashions (350) • Moderate Dresses (356) • Updated Dresses (301) • Women's World (331) (342) • Better Dresses (315) • Coats (320) • Better Coats (321)Crestroom (359) • Furs (400) • Women's SHoes • Hat and Wig Salon
Men's Three San Francisco
Men's Clothing (505) • Men's Outerwear (501) • Men's Shoes (631) • Men's Better Sportswear (535)

Fourth Floor
China Galleries (653) • Glassware Galleries (655) • Silver Galleries (160) • Gift Galleries (281) • Tabletop Shop (061) • Linens (060) • Bath Shop (675) • Beddding (080) • Sewing Fabrics • Art Needlework • Notions
Fifth Floor
Pictures and Mirrors (689) • Lamps • Draperies (630) • Bedspreads and Pillows • Rugs and Carpets • Sight and Sound (693) • Casual Furniture • Sleep Shop • Furniture Galleries (600)

Sixth Floor
Candy (210) • Gourmet Shop (211) • Wine Cellars (212) • The Plum Restaurant • Books (190) • Housewares (670) • Small Appliances (673) • Sporting Goods

Seventh Floor
General Offices


BRANCH STORES (1972-1978)

Eastridge (1971)
San Jose
185,000 sq. ft.
Eucalyptus Room










Southland (1972)

Hayward
180,000 sq. ft.
The Anxious Grape









Sunrise Mall (1972)
Citrus Heights
172,000 sq. ft.









Reno,  NV (1978)
Meadowood Mall
100,000 sq. ft.

Note:
Liberty House also took over Rhodes stores.

17 comments:

  1. Can't wait to hear about this one.. I have a Liberty House label jacket and would love to hear more about the store..

    xoxo,
    Leah
    http://couturearabesque.blogspot.com/

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  2. Stockton St store under construction: http://www.flickr.com/photos/parmo/5450142926/

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  3. Thank you for this entry. I worked at Liberty House in downtown San Francisco from 1977 until they closed in May 1984.

    In 1972, parent company Amfac bought the failing City of Paris department store on Union Square. They closed the O’Farrell Street building and razed it to build a new store. The Geary Street building was operated as ‘City of Paris by Liberty House’ from 1972 until September 1974 when the new Liberty House opened. After that, there was a protected battle to save the old City of Paris building from demolition. Unfortunately only the ornate rotunda and dome were saved and incorporated into the new, Philip Johnson-designed, Neiman-Marcus store, which opened in 1982. Today it remains one of the ugliest buildings in San Francisco, or anywhere else.

    The new Liberty House had 180,000 square feet on six selling floors. In the basement was Normandy Lane, a concept taken from the old City of Paris store, featuring a bakery, gourmet foods, candy, Fortnum and Mason, cheese, Rizzoli Books, stationery, gifts, housewares, liquor, and the Verdier Cellars wine department (the Verdier family had operated the City of Paris since before the 1906 earthquake). There were two restaurants in Normandy lane: the Anxious Grape, a cafeteria, and The Plum, a formal sit-down restaurant with a bar. (As employees, we were not allowed to drink, but if you knew the waiter, you’d order a ‘red tea’ or ‘white tea’ and he’d bring your wine in a teapot with a teacup).

    Your directory is pretty accurate. By the time I got there in 1977, Ladies moderate sportswear was on the second floor. Better sportswear was on three. All children’s was on four. All men’s sportswear was on the first floor; all men’s clothing was on the third floor. Furniture was removed at some point and linens and bedding were moved up to the fifth floor. The fifth floor also had a leased Oriental rug department and an Ask Mr. Foster travel agency. The sixth and seventh floors were Amfac corporate offices, not accessible from the store, but rather via an elevator lobby on O’Farrell Street. (I remember going with a friend to check out the luxurious seventh floor offices in 1974. They had a koi pond which ran the length of the building, with offices around the perimeter. Times sure have changed: when we told the receptionist we just wanted to have a look around, she got someone to give us a guided tour…and we were all of 17 at the time!)

    As for branches, Amfac rebranded the Rhodes stores in Oakland, Concord, Fresno, Dublin, Mountain View, Sacramento (Southgate and Country Club), Phoenix, El Paso, Albuquerque, Portland, and Tacoma as Liberty House in the mid 1970’s. New, smaller format LH stores (about 100,000 square feet) were opened in Reno, downtown Sacramento, Santa Rosa, and San Mateo. The Eastridge store in San Jose (the first Liberty House mainland store) was sold to The Emporium in 1977. The Pacific Northwest stores were sold to Frederick Nelson in 1978. The Southwest stores were sold about the same time. In 1983, the Southland store was sold to the Emporium, Concord became a Ross. Southgate and Dublin were also closed. In 1984 the rest of the stores were sold to Macy’s (San Francisco, Santa Rosa, Reno, Sunrise), JC Penney (Mountain View), Home Express (Fresno), and I. Magnin (downtown Sacramento). Oakland became an office building. I don’t know what happened to the Country Club store. Due to a leasing arrangement with Hahn, Bullock’s and Liberty House were forced to operate their San Mateo Fashion Island stores even after they closed the rest of their Northern California stores. The Liberty House store ultimately became a Whole Earth Access for a short time before the whole mall was torn down and rebuilt as a ‘power center’ in the 1990’s.

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    1. I worked for just a few months at the same location while you were there. I managed the short lived Gifts on One department. I have great memories of those days, it was really a great deal of fun at Liberty House, it felt like family for me. The Christmas party, Annual Drag Fashion show, employee appreciation night where very unexpected and so much fun. I worked for a woman named Sue Sperling (sp?), she was great, always boosting me in spite of my inability to master the Unitote. I was never sent to class to learn the systems before they threw me on the floor. Like Auntie Mame all I knew how to do was charge and send. Consumers should miss the level of service Liberty House offered, it was nothing like the occasional shrug you might get from a salesperson these days.

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  4. I liked the Liberty House stores in the Bay Area; but, like Bullock's Northern, I don't think they had any distinct identity and they weren't around long enough to develop one.

    A friend and I used to meet for dinner fairly often at The Plum in the Stockton St. store. Always a treat.

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  5. We had a Liberty House in Albuquerque, NM at the Coronado Mall. It went out of business and Mervyn's took it's place. Recently Mervyn's has gone also, KOHL'S Department store now occupies what once was the two former department stores.

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  6. Yes ...it was fun to work at Liberty House...I came to the store after my apparel company went belly up. I had been the original buyer who developed and opened the Club House department for Macy's. They had hired me from I Magnin to create a Clubhouse Department that was in the in the Hey day of the Shop on Union Square and The Celler. It was a great time for department store retailing. Liberty House wanted a piece of that young upscale business MAcy's had developed.They hired me to open a clubhouse like department for them (Department 387). I loved to eat at the Plum, but it was crazy to work in the cavern at the Oakland Store. That place was a mausoleum. It must have been beautiful at one time but you could really get lost in it. Liberty House was good to their employees we had a private jet to take us visiting to the branch stores...It was hard on us when they decided to move back to Hawaii ... I was asked to relocate , but at the time it seemed too far from family. It is so sad to see all flavors of different department store personalities reduced to the banal merchandising offerings we see today.

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  7. Where did Liberty House buy their fine jewelry? They had the nicest pieces.
    KC

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  8. Just saw the City of Paris store front in the movie The Conversation by Coppola and had to research it. Thanks

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  9. I just got a lead crystal vase from my neighbor and he started to talk to me about the vase story, and he told me he bought it at this store,"Liberty House", now "Macy's","Woolworths" now "Gap store".
    I love antiques and vintage stuff and of course I wanna learn what is the story about every single item a get!, im fascinated!

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  10. The irony of Philip Johnson's ugly building is that it was later shown that he had virtually copied a Russian Constructivist design from 1920s!

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  11. My mother and I used to eat at the Plum restaurant at the Country Club location in Sacramento. They used to have the best tortilla soup. A clear broth with tortilla chips in it. I would love to get my hands on that recipe if anyone know of one. Thanks!

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  12. On my summer vacation from college, I worked on the construction crew that built the Hayward Liberty House. I was helped onto the union rolls by my father who commissioned the construction and placed it into the capable hands of his close friend, Al Taubman, who designed and built the store.

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  13. As a child, I went to the Liberty House store at Southland Mall in Hayward. It was the anchor for an expansion of the mall, I think. It had glass display cases in the middle of the store that moved from top floor to bottom on cables adjacent to the escalator. Mannequins would be positioned inside displaying clothing for sale. The whole store was so elegant that we felt we had to dress up to go there!

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  14. My mom and I used to have lunch at the LH location in Sunrise Mall, Citrus Heights. That was by far the best tortilla soup and maybe the only at that time. We finally asked for the recipe. They wouldn't give it to us but they did give us some hints. I have copied it almost to perfection. It starts with chicken broth; add onion wedges and simmer until they are soft but still together. Add peeled tomato wedges and continue cooking broth until just warmed through and starting to soften but not mushy. Place tortilla chips, and cheese chunks in bowls. Add the hot broth, onions and tomatoes to the bowls and let them sit about 5 minutes. The only spice we could figure out (it was part of the hint we were given) was ground cumin in the broth. I think you will find this is very close to the LH soup.

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  15. To Pinstripe: I worked at the Liberty House in Stonestown from 1972-1973, which was named City of Paris by Liberty House. The store had just been completed, and the City of Paris name was still being retained. Sue Sperling (your spelling of her name was correct) worked in the Junior Sportswear Dept., but she later left for Joseph Magnin while I was still working there. I believe she was offered a department manager position at Joseph Magnin. Besides her bubbly personality, her New York City accent was unmistakable. I remember, too, some very fun times at the Stonestown store. Roselle Reginelli and Barbara Rippey, Personnel Manager, were great individuals. Sadly, Amfac out of Hawaii absolutely runied Liberty House. It knew nothing about retail and should have stayed out of it. The quality of merchandise quickly went downhill with Amfac at the helm. However, it's the memories of people I worked with there that will always be with me.

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  16. Roselle Reginelli hired me! September 1977. When she retired, we had a small party for her. I thanked her for hiring me and she paused, thought for a minute, and said 'You I'll take credit for. Others, not so much'

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