New Mission Terrace Improvement Association


The New Mission Terrace Improvement Association (NMTIA) is an organization of volunteers who advocate for the neighborhood of Mission Terrace and its residents. We work together to sustain a healthy and safe community by keeping people informed and sponsoring social events and volunteer opportunities which bring everyone together.

Mission Terrace proper was San Francisco’s earliest planned neighborhood of affordable homes. It was built on vegetable fields beginning in 1911. Most of the original development, bounded by San Jose, Capistrano, and Santa Ynez Avenues, was developed by the end of the 1920s.

Today, Mission Terrace is a community of primarily single-family homes. It is located in the south-central part of the city. It consists of a diverse population and includes quite a few families who have lived in the neighborhood for generations.

The New Mission Terrace Improvement Association’s boundaries have expanded over the years to include adjacent streets where there is an interest, need, or no other existing neighborhood group.

See below for a full history of NMITA written by Lisa Dunseth (September 2020).

Featured Fun

Learn about the creation of the Mission Terrace neighborhood in this exclusive video for San Francisco History Days 2020.

The History of the New Mission Terrace Improvement Association

Dedicated to Caitlyn Galloway and her farm, Little City Gardens, 2010-2016.

She inspired us to coalesce around the oasis she created in the middle of our community

and reminded us of the true value of being a good neighbor.

People have been wondering what put the “new” in the New Mission Terrace Improvement Association. But nobody remembers. The question leads one to speculate about squabbles and petty politics but for me it was an invitation to look into the history.

The Mission Terrace Company was incorporated in April 1910 by the real estate firm Baldwin & Howell when they began planning, developing, and building the infrastructure for the neighborhood.[i]By January 1911, they had surveyed the land and opened a tract office at 275 Santa Rosa Avenue ready to “sell lots every day.”[ii]

A Mission Terrace Promotion Association was in existence in April 1920 but it’s unclear when it was founded. It was probably sponsored by the Mission Terrace Company with the mission to promote the development of the neighborhood. The first mention of the group in the newspaper reports their opposition of the Southern Pacific Railroad’s proposal for a spur track to accommodate the asphalt plant at Arago and Paulding Street.[iii] The Associationcomplained that the SP tracks would be dangerous for children and pointed out that there were already three asphalt plants nearby. The Mission Terrace Company was focused on transforming the area from its agricultural and industrial use into a residential community where working class families would want to buy homes. It makes perfect sense that they would want to diminish the impact of the SP railroad on the immediate area.

The Mission Terrace Improvement Club appears in the newspaper the very next year — in 1921. By then it was a “club” and no longer an “association.” Perhaps it had become an independent group, no longer associated with Baldwin & Howell or the Mission Terrace Company? Either way, the club was urging the City to improve Balboa Park noting the “deplorable” condition of the children’s playground. They recommended improvements to both the playground and the Mission Terraceneighborhood in general.[iv]The Mission Terrace Improvement Clubhad become the advocacy group for the neighborhood, and just like today, the needs of children and the condition of Balboa Park were paramount.

On December 12, 1921, the Mission Terrace Improvement Clubbought “Lot 12” in Block “L”(467 Capistrano Avenue)for a $500.00 donation to the Mission Terrace Company. On this lot they planned to build their own clubhouse.[v]Both the club and the company would have found the clubhouse a mutually beneficial idea: it would enhance the value of the development and appeal to potential homebuyers.

By March of 1922, the newspaper reported “Home Built by Mission Terrace Improvement Club Indicates Faith of Organization in their neighborhood.” Frank J. Pullen[vi], the President of the Mission Terrace Improvement Club, is quoted as saying “we are very proud” of our new clubhouse on Capistrano Avenue and “we expect to make good use of it, both for club meetings and social purposes.” He is confident the neighborhood will continue to see development and improvements.[vii]Notably, the clubhouse was built in only three months! However, the clubhouse, was apparently in use for only about fourteen years. By September 1935, the club had sold the property to Mr. Ambrose B. Frank[viii], who, days later, sold it to Elmer and Mary Lincoln.[ix]Since then, the building has been a private residence and the club has had to find other places to meet.

On May 1, 1922, the newspaper reported on the club’s May Day Festival (which sounds like an old-fashioned version of our 4th of July Parade and Picnic):

more than 500 children took part in the May Day Festival yesterday in Balboa Park under the direction of the Mission Terrace Improvement Club. The program included a pageant, a parade, games, and contests. Little Frances Bulsing (of 179 Santa Ynez) reigned over the celebration as queen of the May. An elaborate coronation ceremony was a feature of the pageant. The royal diadem was presented to her majesty by Supervisor Jesse C. Colman. After the coronation the queen and her court, carrying white and gold streamers, danced around a large May pole. Refreshments were served the children and prizes were awarded winners in the games.[x]

Between 1922 and 1948 references to the Mission Terrace Improvement Clubdo not appear in the newspapers, perhaps due to the serious effects and economic impact of the Great Depression and World War II.

However, between 1928 and 1942 the Mission Viaduct Terrace Improvement Club ismentioned quite a few times in the papers. During those years, it appears that we joined forces with neighbors near the Mission Viaduct to advocate for various things: a children’s park near Rousseau and Cuvier, improvements for McLaren Park, a new Glen Park Elementary School, and also to endorse ballot propositions for sewer and transportation improvements. In 1948, and as late as November 1949, the Mission Viaduct Terrace Improvement Association (no longer a club) is still meeting and endorsing ballot measures.[xi]

But things changed by the end of 1948—maybe a energetic member died or moved away? At any rate, the New Mission Terrace Improvement Association is born in 1948. The first mention of this new incarnation of the club appeared in a newspaper clipping dated December 13th. It announced the club’s Christmas party, to be held in the Masonic Temple at the corner of San Juan at San Jose Avenue (which had been built in 1923.) “Admittance will be by membership card only.”[xii](They had membership cards! And meeting in the Masonic Hall!)

Since NMTIA is said to have been founded in 1949, one must consider this Christmas party the inaugural event for the revitalized organization: the New Mission Terrace Improvement Association. Perhaps the officers of the reinvigorated, postwar club thought it best to tack on the word “new” for the sake of propriety, the new year, or to not step on toes? We don’t know.

Unsurprisingly, one of the first actions of the New Mission Terrace Improvement Association was to complain to the City about conditions at Balboa Park. Under the auspices of the Alemany District Council of Improvement Associations, a letter to Mayor Robinson was written in March 1949 inquiring about planned improvements at the Balboa Park, in particular, the “convenience station” which had been promised. The letter also stated that there wasn’t a “decent playground with baseball diamonds” for the children. This coalition of six improvement clubs included the NMTIA, whose President at the time was Leonard[xiii]Fregosi.[xiv]

In 1952, the NMTIA received a letter from the City’s General Manager, regarding an inquiry concerning “recreation in Balboa Park.” It was addressed to the NMTIA at Druids Hall at 29 San Juan Avenue near Mission Street, which was, apparently, their new meeting location.[xv]The General Manager states the City’s intention to allocate monies for improved irrigation, two baseball diamonds, a children’s playground, and tennis court lighting.[xvi]

In 1956, NMTIA’s secretary Oscar[xvii]D. Ames wrote to Mayor Christopher to complain about the problems with the Alemany Emergency Hospital and implored the City to maintain those critical services.[xviii]The NMTIA was still meeting at Druids Hall, on third Mondays of the month.

In 1972, a magazine article about citywide neighborhood organizations described the NMTIA as: “Organized for the benefit of property owners who want to retain neighborhood’s single-family home density. They pool efforts on occasion to help families with problems such as sickness.”At that time, Mrs. Rose M. White, of 306 Delano Avenue, was President.[xix]

The combined impact on the neighborhood of the I-280 Freeway in the 1960s and of BART in the 1970s was dramatic. The NMTIA was surely an involved and active group during that time. In the summer of 1978, NMTIA as part of the COMO consortium (Communities of the Outer Mission Organization) helped organize the sit-in at the Alemany Emergency Hospital and Health Center buildings to protest their closure. It was an exciting and admirable effort but ultimately one that failed.

Without a clubhouse, the Masonic Temple, or Druid’s Hall, the NMTIA had to find other places to meet, which meant meeting in the homes of its members. From approximately 1987 through 2000 the NMTIA met in the basement of a neighbor’s house on Santa Ysabel Avenue (except for a brief interlude in 1989 when they met in a neighbor’s basement on San Juan Avenue.) In the year 2001 NMTIA began meeting in the Ingleside Police Station Community Meeting Room and has been meeting there ever since: thank you SFPD!

Over the years, no matter the location of the meeting, one theme has remained constant—the stewardship of the neighborhood’s most important amenity, Balboa Park.

Balboa Park has been a focal point for neighborhood activism for almost 100 years. The park, founded in 1910, needed an advocate in the 1920s; again in the 1940s; and in recent years as well. The NMTIA has worked with neighbors and city agencies to improve the park repeatedly over the past twenty years. Those projects include:

the renovation of the children’s playground in 2006-07 (in partnership with KaBOOM! and local parents); the broader park improvements in 2008-10 (with support from The Trust For Public Land); and the creation of the skateboard park in 2012 (a collaboration between local dads and The Trust for Public Land with support from the 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond.) Most recently, since 2016, the NMTIA has been keeping tabs on the pool renovation which finally reopened in February 2019.

In addition to the park’s needs, since 1986, the NMTIA has had a constant flow of neighborhood and district issues to advocate for or against alongside other civic groups and municipal agencies. A partial list of projects includes:

the Santa Rosa sewer project which damaged homes in 1984-85; several tree planting projects beginning in 1986; the extension of the J-Church streetcar line to San Jose & Ocean Avenue in 1991; the building of the Excelsior Youth Center/Boys & Girls Club in 1998; saving the Geneva Office Building and returning it to service, beginning in 1998; the Arco Way housing development issues in 2000; the  Save The Pool from City Collegecampaign in 2003; support of  Solutions Not Sandbagssince 2004 (ongoing); the massage parlor problem on San Jose Avenue in 2005; the building of affordable senior housing at 5199 Mission Street, completed in 2005; the renovation of the Excelsior Branch Library, completed in 2005; support of the Save The Farmcampaign, 2015-16; the landmarking of the Alemany Emergency Hospital and Health Center buildings, 2016; and the illegal gambling issue at 350 Ocean Avenue in 2017.

NMTIA continues to work on numerous thankless but important projects such as: traffic calming, stop signs, speed bumps/humps, pedestrian safety, residential parking permit program, and the impact on the neighborhood of hundreds of new housing units planned nearby.

But it’s not all business. NMTIA continues to organize and plan fun events to bring neighbors together. With sponsorship from the Roxie Food Center, we’ve organized the Annual Easter Egg Hunt for over fifteen years; the 4th of July Parade and Picnic for thirty years; as well as the Annual Holiday Party.

Our fantastic and ambitious neighbors have dreamed up and organized projects which further deepen community relationships. From the mundane alley cleanup days; to Mary, who spearheaded the Mission Terrace Bridge Garden Project;to John and Beth, who cooked up thePasta Dinner in the Alleyidea; and to the parents on San Gabriel, Otsego, and Delano who have organized Halloween block parties for several years. We all benefit from your energy and ideas—it’s what makes Mission Terrace a great place to live.

Most recently, of course, we’ve all been adjusting to life with Covid-19 and the restrictions it presents. We look forward to the day when we can return to a semblance of “normalcy” and resume meeting in person.

The NMTIA’s work is never done and can’t be done without your participation. Thank you for your interest in the New Mission Terrace Improvement Association and for your help supporting and improving the community. Your involvement makes a difference.

[i]San Francisco Chronicle, April 26, 1910, p. 15. Proquest database.

[ii]Baldwin & Howell’s Mission Terrace brochure, circa 1911.

[iii]San Franciso Chronicle, April 23, 1920, p. 6. Proquest database.

[iv]San Francisco Chronicle, March 15, 1921, p. 4. Proquest database.

[v]Baldwin & Howell Collection, SFH 17, Mission Terrace Record of Sales ledger, San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.

[vi]Frank J. and Constance Pullen lived at 460 Capistrano Avenue. 1922 City Directory, San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.

[vii]San Francisco Chronicle, March 25, 1922, p. 10. Proquest database. The clubhouse building, at 467 Capistrano, is now a single family home.

[viii]Ambrose B. (married to Viola) Frank worked at A.B. & Co. real estate office at 4607 Mission Street; his residence was at 45 Brazil Avenue (corner of London.) 1935 City Directory, San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.

[ix]CCSF Assessor Recorder’s Office records: December 31, 1921, Mission Terrace Company sold to Mission Terrace Clubhouse Association; September 12, 1935, Mission Terrace Clubhouse Association sold to A.B. Frank; September 18, 1935, A.B. & V.B. Frank sold to Elmer H. & Mary M. Lincoln; June 30, 1937, E.H. & M.M. Lincoln sold to Thomas N. Jackson Jr.

[x]San Francisco Chronicle, May 1, 1922, p.g 13. Proquest database.


1928: New officers elected for Mission Viaduct Terrace Improvement Club: George E. Larsen* (127 Cayuga), President; Richard Ford (27 Danton), Vice-President; Jay.W. Bennett (29 Rotteck), Secretary; John Kenneally (45 Rotteck), Treasurer. They began a campaign to get a playground between Rousseau and Cuvier Streets on Cayuga Avenue “for the use of children of Mission Viaduct Terrace and vicinity. Louis Klein (58 Rotteck) is organizer of the club.”: [San Francisco Chronicle, July 30, 1928, p. 4. Proquest database.]  1928: There is a mention of the “Mission Terrace-Colonial Park Improvement Club” advocating for funds for McLaren Park development in 1928: [San Francisco Chronicle, October 19, 1928, p. 2. Proquest database.]  1928: Mission Viaduct Terrace Improvement Club endorses sewer bond: [San Francisco Chronicle, October 29, 1928, p. 4. Proquest database.] 1935: Mission Viaduct Terrace Improvement Club attends groundbreaking of new Glen Park School: [San Francisco Chronicle, May 6, 1935, p. 6. Proquest database.]  1938: Mission Viaduct Terrace Improvement Club endorses a transportation measure: [San Francisco Chronicle, September 26, 1938, p.25. Proquest database.] 1939: Mrs. Glen Sharpe, Secretary of the Mission Viaduct Terrace Improvement Club, helped promote improvements at Glen Park School: [San Francisco Chronicle, October 8, 1939, p. 69. Proquest database.]  1940: In 1940 there is this list of officers of the “Mission Viaduct Terrace Improvement Association”: George Economos (769 Cayuga), President; Archie Ney (87 Rotteck), Vice President; Dan Relei (400 Faxon, however Albert Relei lives at 1643 San Jose), Treasurer; Frank Sharpe (28 Admiral), Corresponding Secretary; Phil Murphy (78 Tingley), Sergeant-At-Arms: [San Francisco Chronicle, January 12, 1940, p. 8. Proquest database.]  1941: Mission Viaduct Terrace Improvement Club officers listed as Joe Bratt, President (40 Admiral); Archie Ney (87 Rotteck), Vice President; Dan Relei (400 Faxon), Treasurer; Frank Sharpe (28 Admiral), Financial Secretary; Edith Sharpe (28 Admiral), Corresponding Secretary; Rose Relei (400 Faxon), Recording Secretary; Joe Medeiros (35 Admiral), Sergeant-At-Arms: [San Francisco Chronicle, January 15, 1941,p. 26. Proquest database.]   1941, February: Mission Viaduct Terrace Improvement Club meeting at 28 Admiral reports Charlie Molinari (41 Admiral): [San Francisco Chronicle, February 4, 1941, p. 16. Proquest database.]   1941, May: Mission Viaduct Terrace Improvement Club attends meeting: [San Francisco Chronicle, May 21, 1941, p. 25. Proquest database.]  1942: The Mission Viaduct Terrace Improvement Club gives money to Red Cross: [San Francisco Chronicle, January 12, 1942, p. 9. Proquest database.]    1948: A May 1948 article lists Frank Crowley (972 York) as President of the Mission Viaduct Terrace Improvement Association.(NMTIA was founded in 1949): [San Francisco Chronicle, May 9, 1948, p. 2. Proquest database.]   1948: In 1948 the Mission Viaduct Terrace Improvement Association has a published a political endorsement: [San Francisco Chronicle, November 1, 1948, p. 22. Proquest database.]   1949: The Mission Viaduct Terrace Improvement Association (along with the Mission Viaduct Improvement Club!) is listed as an endorser for political position in November 1949: [San Francisco Chronicle, November 7, 1949, p. 25. Proquest database.].   *All home addresses located in SFPL’s digitized City Directories.

[xii]News clipping found inside neighbor’s wall during remodeling; date calculated from perennial calendar.

[xiii]Leonard E. and Edith M. lived at 306 Delano Avenue. He worked at Giampolini & Co. 1948-49 City Directory, San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.

[xiv]COMO LETTER? Letter to Mayor Robinson from Secretary Anna L. de Surville, Alemany District Council, dated March 14, 1949. The six improvement clubs were: Cayuga Improvement Association, Mission Viaduct Improvement Association, NMTIA, Sunnyside Improvement Association, Ingleside Community Association, San Miguel Improvement Association. Copy of letter, collection of the author.

[xv]Druid’s Hall, 29 San Juan Avenue, noted in news clipping found inside neighbor’s wall during remodeling; date calculated from perennial calendar.

[xvi]COMO LETTER? Letter to NMTIA from David Lewis, City’s General Manager, dated June 19, 1952. Copy of letter, collection of the author.

[xvii]Oscar D. and Mary Ames lived at 44 Nantucket, he worked at the Graham Paint Company. 1955-56 City Directory, San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library.

[xviii]Letter to Mayor Christopher, dated April 7, 1956, from NMTIA Secretary O.D. Ames (who lived at 44 Nantucket.) Copy of letter, collection of the author. See also NMTIAs successful campaign to have 35 & 45 Onondaga buildings landmarked in 2016; the report can be found here:

[xix]San Francisco Chronicle, California Living Magazine, June 4, 1972, p. 27.