My friend Angelina Armani was in town last night and contacted me to tell me that she and her boyfriend Robert Hall would be videotaping a performance by Kevn Kinney of Southern rock band Drivin and Cryin at the Bayview Opera House. That was enough to give me an excuse to check out a piece of San Francisco history few people know about.
The funniest part when I drove up and met everyone was that they were talking about chicken and waffles that they just had for dinner. Apparently, they didn’t know about the Bayview part of town. Kevn greeted me with a hey brother, you from this part of town? The first thing that popped out of my mouth was, you just had chicken and waffles for dinner, do I look like I’m from this part of town? Not being unaware of soul food [yet I still can’t figure out the combination of chicken and waffles] we both ended up having a laugh after my comment.
Built in 1888, the Bayview Opera House is small in comparison to other opera houses you might find elsewhere.It underwent a refurbishment recently and I can tell you that from walking around the outside and inside that it is definitely a centerpiece to the Bayview-HuntersPoint community. This area was originally considered to be a part of South San Francisco.
The odd part is that while it was called an opera house there was never any operas performed there. Built as part of a Masonic Lodge it was home to vaudeville acts like Pawnee Bill’s Medicine Show and other traveling type of groups, but it was a place that the people of San Francisco would visit for a night out on the town which would make sense since there was a brewery on the opposite corner where they could fuel up for whatever form of entertainment was happening that night. While I can’t find much more about the history of the place it is today a place that serves the African-American community with arts programs, yoga and helps bring the community together.