San Francisco supervisors on Tuesday will vote on a resolution that could give landmark status to the historic bar SF Eagle — considered by many to be the epicenter of the LGBTQ scene in the city’s South of Market neighborhood.
The resolution was authored by Supervisor Matt Haney and calls on the city’s Historic Preservation Commission to consider granting the bar a landmark designation.
If supervisors approve Tuesday’s resolution, the preservation commission would then have to consider granting a landmark designation within 90 days. If the commission does indeed approve the request, the resolution would go back to the supervisors for ultimate approval.
SF Eagle has been operating at the same location, at the corner of 12th and Harrison streets, since 1981. Despite briefly closing between 2011 and 2013, the bar has remained an iconic business, known for its lively fundraising events like the famous Bare Chest Calendar.
The bar is just across from the newly constructed Eagle Plaza, a park dedicated to the leather and LGBTQ communities, and also sits within the LGBTQ and Leather Cultural District, established by the Board of Supervisors in 2018 and comprising SOMA’s western portion.
In its heyday in the 1970s, western SOMA boasted as many as 30 different LGBTQ businesses, including bars, clubs, shops and bathhouses. Then, in 1981, the creation of the world-famous annual Folsom Street Fair, an event synonymous with leather and kink, raised the neighborhood’s profile even more, drawing tens of thousands of people each year in pre-pandemic times.
In the last decade, however, several of those businesses have perished due to rising rents. Since the onset of the pandemic, however, at least two of the area’s historic LGBTQ spaces, The Stud and Blow Buddies, have closed for good as COVID-19 restrictions have paralyzed the city’s nightlife.
“We have endured hard times,” SF Eagle owner Lex Montiel said during a meeting at the Board of Supervisor’s Land Use and Transportation Committee last week. “I’d like to recommend (this resolution) as a person, as a San Franciscan, and point out the importance of the bar and its mission, and that’s why I personally got invested in saving it and continuing the traditions of fundraising, community, and providing a safe space.”