With thousands of pieces of art in its collection, San Francisco’s Palace of the Legion of Honor museum was built in memory of the Californian soldiers who died during World War I, and is an exclusive venue for weddings and events. The Palace of the Legion of Honor boasts important permanent collections of European paintings and decorative arts, illustrated books, 18th-century French and English porcelain, sculpture, ancient art, and a variety of ever-changing exhibitions.
The Legion of Honor was the gift of Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, wife of the sugar magnate and Thoroughbred racehorse owner/breeder Adolph B. Spreckels. The building is a three-quarters scale imitation of the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris. The design was based on a model of the Hôtel de Salm that appeared at the 1915 Panama Pacific Exhibition, so it is not an exact copy. Completed in 1924, it was given to the City of San Francisco by Alma de Bretteville Le Normand Spreckels and designed by George Applegarth and H. Guillaume.
The museum building occupies an elevated site in Lincoln Park in the northwest of the city, with views over the Golden Gate Bridge. Most of the surrounding Lincoln Park Golf Course is on the site of a potter’s field called the “Golden Gate Cemetery” that the City had bought in 1867. The cemetery was closed in 1908 and the bodies were relocated toColma. During seismic retrofitting in the 1990s, however, coffins and skeletal remains were unearthed.
The plaza and fountain in front of the Palace of the Legion of Honor is the western terminus of the Lincoln Highway, the first road across America. The terminus marker and an interpretive plaque are located in the southwest corner of the plaza and fountain, just to the left of the Palace.