Mystery Boulders Identified

At some point in the 1960s, several meteor-like boulders landed on the median of Diamond Heights Blvd.

DHB Median_red boulder_cropped

The neighborhood was young. Just a few churches and a lot of open space. Archival photographs from the early 60s reveal nothing on the boulevard median but a few saplings.

Brownish red, weathered and immobile, the boulders made an immediate and impressive statement along an otherwise flat acre of land.*DHB Median_red boulder2_cropped

Years of vegetative growth have obscured their impressiveness. Until now, their origin was known to only a handful of San Franciscans.

In May of 1964, Helen Bradley attended an auction of the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency. She successfully bid $5,100 for an undeveloped view lot at 185 Beacon Street, which many other bidders considered “unbuildable.” (Other lots sold for as much as $15,000. See Chronicle article.)

Scan 4Helen wanted to build a home, but the lot was prohibitively steep and rocky.

She had an idea. She phoned the City and offered to “donate” her lovely red rocks. The City showed up with a crane and some earth-moving trucks.

The contractor was called Sheety Sheedy Drayage Co., which quickly became a family joke. Why would anyone pay to hire Sheety Sheedy trucks?

The workers loaded up the boulders and hauled them less than a mile up the hill to Diamond Heights Blvd., placing them on the median where they can still be enjoyed today.

As a side note, the house that Helen built is a 2-story, 2,000 square-foot, 7-room residence that sold in 1970 for $63,000. Today, the lot has an estimated value of $1.6 to $1.9m.185 Beacon Street

Helen’s daughter, Gale Bradley, lives on Twin Peaks in another house that Helen built, overlooking that same view. Gale shops in the Diamond Heights Safeway.

Thank you to Gale Bradley and Alan Hugenot for sharing this story and photographs.

*the combined area of the median islands between Duncan Street and Berkeley Way is 43,151 sq. ft. One acre is 43,560 sq. ft.

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