San Francisco Zoo, Mothers Building Murals – San Francisco CA


Murals by Dorothy Pucinelli and Helen Forbes adorn the interior of the Mothers Building at the SF Zoo which was originally built in 1925 as a refuge for mothers and their children. Pucinelli and Forbes used egg tempera to paint a four panel mural illustrating “Noah and his Ark-the Waters Subsiding and Renewal.” The murals were painted in 1938 with Federal Art Project funds. From 1978 to 2002, the building served as the Zoo’s gift shop, however the murals are currently deteriorating and, pending more funds for restoration, the building is only used for occasional events.

Source notes
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Location Info

1 Zoo Rd.
San Francisco, CA 94132

Location notes:
Lat/lon is in the middle of the Zoo. Exact project location TBD.

Coordinates: 37.732900, -122.503000

6 comments on “San Francisco Zoo, Mothers Building Murals – San Francisco CA

  1. The murals are inside, but outside is an incredible mosaic of St Francis (our city’s namesake) with wild animals. This must be included in the preservation… I have put pictures of the mosaic and the frieze on the outside of this amazingly beautiful landmark building at this url:

    • Gabriel Milner

      Thanks for these, Greg! Would you be willing to permit us to use some of these images on our site?

  2. susie coit williams

    Is there a fundraising effort going on at this time?

  3. Richard Rothman

    I have a new web page about the Mothers Building.

  4. The San Francisco Zoo is 100-acres. The zoo is located in the southwestern corner of San Francisco, California, between Lake Merced and the Pacific Ocean along the Great Highway. The zoo’s main entrance was once located on the north side across Sloat Boulevard. The new entrance is now to the west on the ocean side of the zoo off of the Great Highway.
    Originally named the Fleishhacker Zoo after its founder, a banker, San Francisco Parks Commissioner and President, Herbert Fleishhacker, planned to have the zoo open. The plans began in 1929. The site is next to what was once the largest swimming pool in the United States, the Fleishhacker Pool. Herbert Fleishhacker gave his own money and land for the playground and zoo. The area was also already home to a children’s playground, a merry-go-round (1921) built by Michael Dentzel and Marcus Illions, and the Mother’s Building, a nice place for ladies and their children to visit when they went to the zoo. Most of the animals were transferred from Golden Gate Park including two zebras, a cape buffalo, five rhesus monkeys, two spider monkeys, and three elephants (Virginia, Marjorie, and Babe).
    The Mother House has a kind of art deco motif, a popular design in the 1920s and 1930s. Inside the building are beautiful paintings by California art-ists Dorothy Puccinelli-Cravath and Helen Forbes. Unfortunately, because of money problems, the House is closed to the public.

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