Who We Are
HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF THE VISITACION:
1907 to Present
Commencing at the intersection of Bayshore Freeway and Mansell Street, west along Mansell Street to LaGrande Ave. South along LaGrande along imanginery line extended from LaGrande across McLaren Park, across Mt. San Bruno to a point where the imaginary line would meet the northern city boundaries of South San Francisco. Along this line to the east to a point at which this boundary intersects the line of San Francisco Bay. North along Bayshore Freeway to point of commencement.
Visitacion Valley was discovered on July 2, 1777 by some Franciscan Friars on their way to the Presidio in San Francisco but got lost in the fog. On the morning of the 2nd they found they were on a rocky-slope. Here they said their first mass, on the feast of the Visitacion (on the large rock on Cora St. later called Indian Rock.) The valley lay idle until 1859 when the first people settled here.
Visitacion Valley takes its name from Rancho Cañada de Guadalupe la Visitación y Rodeo Viejo, a large tract of land that also included the Bayshore district of Daly City, the city of Brisbane, and San Bruno Mountain.
The term “Visitacion” is Spanish and a reference to the Visitation in Luke 1:39 of the Bible. It is a visit by Mary, bearing the child Jesus, to her cousin Elizabeth, who despite her advanced years is pregnant with John the Baptist. John leapt in the womb as Mary entered, knowing that he is in presence of the Savior.
The first American Governor of California was Peter H. Burnett 1807-1895. He built a home on Burnett Grove (now called, Church of the Visitacion). While he was there, he entertained many high officials like President McKinley and Admiral Duvey. At that time two hundred trees were on the property.
In 1923 the only Tourist camp in San Francisco opened here (current church location). It was called “The S.F. Auto Camp.” There were a total of 40 cabins together with an abundance of text space. Most cabins were two rooms, kitchenette and bed room. The sanitary facilities were near by. The camp also had a Grocery Store, laundry room, and recreation hall.
The First Church of the Visitacion: 1907
In the fall of 1906, before the parish was formed, a few Catholic ladies of Visitacion Valley held a fair to start a church fund. This was the first step towards the establishment of the new parish. A lot on Cora Street, between Sunnydale and Visitacion Avenues, was donated by Mrs. Joseph Roberts and a small building was constructed with rough boards and batten.
In 1907, Archbishop Patrick William Riordan established the new parish in the Visitacion Valley, naming it Church of the Visitacion. Rev. Thomas McNaboe was appointed Pastor. The first mass was celebrated in this building on Passion Sunday (March 1907). The temporary structure was used for about seven months.
The Second Church of the Visitacion:
Four lots on the corner of Visitacion Avenue and Loehr Street were purchased as the site of the second temporary church and parochial residence. The work began on Labor Day 1907. On the second Sunday of October, Rev. McNaboe was able to open it for Mass. This was a shingled frame building about 80 feet long and 30 feet wide, situated on the corner lot. This location was regarded as very inconvenient for those who came by automobile over sand lots and streets not yet paved. This location was used for about ten years.
The Third Church of the Visitacion:
The third piece of property consisted of three adjoining corner lots: Raymond Avenue and Delta Street, and two similar kinds of lots on Leland Avenue and Delta Street. The second church was torn down and the material was used in the construction of the building on Raymond Avenue. This building was erected from a pencil sketch made by Rev. Micheal Clifford and the contractor, P.F. McCarthy. The frame work was partly up when Rev. James Gannon took possession of the parish in November 1919. The church was opened with a High Mass on Christmas Day 1919. This building still stands today.
Rev. Gannon had a couple of rooms built under the church where he lived until the erection of a parochial house on the northwest corner of Raymond Avenue and Delta Street. It was a two story frame building with nine rooms. During the year of 1921, the parochial hall was erected in the rear of the rectory.
The Fourth Church of the Visitacion:
1952 to Present
As the population of Visitacion Valley continued to grow, the San Francisco Auto Camp was purchased in 1945 with the intention of putting up an entire parish plant: Church, Rectory, Hall, School, and Convent. It consisted of nearly four acres of land on Sunnydale Avenue. Before the Auto Camp, the property was known as Burnett Grove.
Construction work started in March 1951. A Church, Rectory and Hall were built. On April 20, 1952, Archbishop John J. Mitty, D.D. dedicated the new church. In 1960, the property was paid for. The Mother’s Club had the honor of sending the first $1,000 to the Chancery Office toward our soon to be built parish school. During the construction of the school in 1963, the old governor’s house had to be torn down as it was in the way. Two hundred trees had to be removed as well, including one planted by President McKinley. Many others were planted by famous Americans entertained by the Burnett family. The school was dedicated by Archbishop Joseph McGucken on April 1, 1965.