The Polish Club of San Francisco is
located in a district rich with cultural diversity and historic
significance. It is located in the Mission
District of San Francisco -- originally the home of the Ohlone Indians.
the mid-19th Century came the great European and Asian immigrations. The mid-19th Century was marred by
political turmoil and great famines. Poland was
among the countries that suffered great political upheaval. The ancient state of Poland was
conquered and divided by three imperial powers—the Russian, Prussian, and
Austro-Hungarian empires. The national
identity of Poles came under harsh attack by these hostile imperial regimes,
but Poles were unified by their belief in their right to independence and
freedom of worship and in their distinct identity as a people. Oppression and the difficulty of
maintaining Polish identity under hostile regimes led many Poles to seek
freedom and refuge outside their homeland.
Many settled in the United
the turn of the 20th Century, Polish immigration exploded. With imperial repression, land shortages,
religious repression and chronic unemployment making life more and more unbearable
for the Poles of Europe, they left for America by the thousands and
hundreds of thousands. By the mid to
late 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century, the majority of
Polish immigrants settled in the eastern and mid-western states of the U.S.
but many also ventured further west in search of opportunity.
After the great 1906 earthquake and fire in San Francisco, many
of the City's displaced businesses and residents moved to the Mission
District, making Mission Street
a major ethnic commercial thoroughfare -- a characteristic it retains to this
day. Much of the Mission District was
saved from the 1906 conflagration by a fire hydrant known today as “the
little giant” – water from which is credited with stopping the 1906 fire from
thoroughly destroying the Mission
building saved from the conflagration was the local Baptist church located at
22nd and Shotwell Streets that later became the Polish Club.
The Polish Club building continues to have great
significance for Polish-Americans today.
The original Polish settlements in Northern
California did not have a place to meet, so society meetings
took place in private homes or in spaces rented from other organizations. The oldest San Francisco Polish society,
founded in 1863 by Rudolf Korwin Piotrowski and Kazimierz Bielawski, known as
the Polish Society of California, rented office space at 273 Golden Gate Avenue in a building
that no longer exists. The Polish St.
Stanislaus Benevolent Society, founded in 1889 in San Francisco, held its meetings at St.
Boniface Catholic Church, established as a place of worship by the local
German community. The Polish Community
in San Francisco,
seeing the great necessity to establish a meeting place of their own for
social events and for the preservation of their culture and language, began
to look for a permanent meeting place.
The result of their collective efforts is today’s Polish Club at 3040 22nd St. in San Francisco’s Mission
More about the Polish Club │Polish
Club Anniversary Booklet 2006 │Historic Newspaper Articles & Photos