Queer Places:
1214 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109
The Art Students League of New York, 215 W 57th St, 10019
2310 Broderick St, San Francisco, CA 94115
Cypress Lawn Memorial Park Colma, San Mateo County, California, USA

California artist Ethel McAllister Grubb (February 18, 1890 – March 7, 1985) lived in the Marina District when the 1906 earthquake struck San Francisco. An interview to Grubb preserved at the San Francisco Public Library covers the earthquake experience and aspects of living in San Francisco and going to art school.

Born in San Francisco, CA on February 18, 1890, into an early pioneer family, Ethel Grubb's great-great-grandfather Captain Frederick William Macondray came to California in 1821 and later settled in San Francisco shortly after the Gold Rush. James Otis, 15th mayor of San Francisco, was Ether's grandfather. Hall McAllister, jurist, whose statue is on the right of the City Hall, on McAllister Street, was her great-uncle. Macondray Lane, Otis and McAllister streets in San Francisco are named in honor of members of her family. Her father was Hall McAllister of McAlister and Company, Commission merchants.

She was born at 1214 Hyde Street, near Clay. At five years old, she moved to 2436 Jefferson Street which is just four blocks down. Before her marriage in 1917 she lived on Alta Plaza Park near Jackson Street. She attended Miss West's School. Miss Mary West was actually McAllister's cousin who lived with their grandmother on Sue Street. Miss Bert was a mathematics teacher at Miss West's before she started Miss Bert's.

Ethel began a four year course at the California School of Fine Arts under John Stanton, Pedro Lemos, and Frank Van Sloun. After graduating from that school in 1915, she studied at the Art Students League in NYC under Frank DuMond and Kenneth H. Miller. Back in San Francisco, she helped found the San Francisco Junior League.


Ethel at 89 years old

In 1917 McAllister married D. Hanson Grubb (died 1977), and she had three children, of which only one, Betty, survived her. Peter died in 1937 and Edward "Ted" H. Grubb in 1981. They first lived at 2701 Jackson and then at 2310 Broderick Street. The Broderick Street house was a 1890 two story four room Victorian cottage in the middle of the hill built by Arthur B. Pierson, who had a stationery store at 318 Post Street on Union Square. In 1911, Katherine Delmar Burke, member of a socially prominent family important in education, a woman aware that the daughters of San Francisco's important people should be educated as proper young ladies, established Miss Burke's Private School in the house, borrowing for her use the garden of the Folger (coffee) home next door. Miss Burke's School moved to 3065 Jackson Street, and then to Sea Cliff for the lower school; but 15 years after she founded the school, Burke died of a throat infection in Egypt while on a Mediterranean tour with Rosalie Meyer Stern of the Levi Strauss fortune (the mother of Mrs Walter Haas). Florence Ward Erskine and Jean Ward Wolff, both medical doctors in the 1990s, where students at the school. From 1917 to 1920, the Broderick Street house was the headquarters for the Grant Public School around the corner. Then William V. Byrne, general manager of the Coast-Dakota Flour Co., moved in. In 1928 D. Hanson Grubb bought it for $11.500.

Artists at Work, c1963 Collection of Elizabeth G. Lampen
Artists at Work, c1963 Collection of Elizabeth G. Lampen

Returning to California, she spent several months in Monterey where she was a pupil of painter E. Charlton Fortune who remained her lifelong friend. E. Charlton Fortune was an American Impressionist artist from California. Independent and happily unmarried, she darted around the world on her bicycle, a new symbol of feminine freedom in an era when women were first striving for the right to travel. Early in her career, she was known for arriving in her trademark corduroy suits, accompanied by leather shoes with shiny buckles. Ethel McAllister was her student, companion, and possibly lover, even if she was a married woman. The two are featured in her small painting Artist(s) at Work, where they sit overlooking a valley. The two were definitely close, but it is unclear whether McAllister was romantically interested in Fortune. Either way, the friendship had a great impact on Fortune and she considered their time together some of the happiest of her life.

McAllister taught painting in Monterey, as assistant teacher to Fortune. She then taught dress making at the Miss Hamlin's School (one of the Flood mansions on Broadway) for thirty-eight years. Her daughter, Betty Grubb Lampen, attended Miss Hamlin's as well.

In 1930 McAllister had a one-woman show at the East-West Gallery in San Francisco.


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