Call Building

No longer exists
Also known as: Spreckels Building, Central Tower Building (after 1938)
703 Market Street, San Francisco, CA

19 story (318' tall) office tower built between 1895 and 1897


The Call Building

The rival Chronicle was housed in the building with the clocktower (left)

Photo Detroit Publishing 1900, courtesy Library of Congress



The Call Building was design by James and Merritt Reid for Claus Spreckles, owner of the San Francisco Call newspaper. The steel framed structure was built on a 70 x 75' lot on the corner of Third and Market Streets. It rose from a 25'deep foundation with a 2' thick concrete slab embedded with steel anchor plates for the columns. The first 15 floors above grade were faced with sandstone. The original plan called for marble but was changed as costs of the project climbed over $1 million. A baroque four story dome, a latern cupola and flag staff topped out the building. Four domed cupolas graced the corners of the building at the 15th floor. The building opened on December 17, 1897.

The 19th floor provided access to the latern room but was otherwise unoccupied. The offices Reid Brothers, architects, were on the 18th floor. The facilities of the exclusive San Francisco Club were located on the 16th and 17th floors. A restaurant, open to the public, occupied the 15th floor and the Call's printing presses were located in the basement.

The Call Building survived the April 19, 1906 earthquake with no significant structural damage but was gutted by fire the next day. The interior spaces of the damaged building were rebuilt in a little over a years time but the San Francisco Club and Reid Brothers relocated in the meantime and the dome floors remained unoccupied for the remainder or the building's existence.

Beginning in the fall of 1937, the Call Building gave way to a plain utilitarian structure with an equally plain utilitarian name, the Central Tower Building which was completed in 1938. Architect Albert Roller stripped the Call Building of its ornamental and unprofitable dome and replaced it with a six story tall inset tower. The sandstone facing was replaced and the interior spaces completely remodeled. Little remains of the Call Building beyond a few door knobs bearing Claus Spreckels "CS" monogram and the marble staircases with wrought iron railings which extend to the 15th floor where they give way concrete and steel railings.

Update Log 

  • May 20, 2019: New photo from Richard Doody
  • May 4, 2019: New photo from Richard Doody
  • May 4, 2019: New photo from Richard Doody
  • May 4, 2019: Added by Richard Doody


  • Richard Doody