Since 1971, San Francisco Architectural Heritage has been charged to preserve and enhance the city’s unique architectural and cultural identity. Maxfield Parrish’s beloved painting “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” has been an enduring symbol of San Francisco’s identity for over a century. On March 22, 2013, to the astonishment of longtime patrons, the Palace Hotel removed Parrish’s masterwork from its namesake bar for sale at auction. The undersigned appeal to the hotel's ownership, Kyo-ya Hotels and Resorts, to return the “Pied Piper” to its home in San Francisco.
Commissioned in the aftermath of the 1906 Great Earthquake and Fire, “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” made its debut with the grand reopening of the landmark Palace Hotel in 1909. The 16-foot-long painting was one of only two Maxfield Parrish barroom artworks in the country, and the only one to remain in its original location. Its counterpart, “The Old King Cole,” remains prominently displayed for all to enjoy at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City.
Longtime San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, whose signature martini is still served at the bar, revered the Pied Piper and its “beloved” namesake painting. The mural has witnessed generations of celebrities and politicians, from James Rolph to Willie Brown, gather under its colorful gaze. San Francisco Architectural Heritage selected the Pied Piper Bar and Grill as one of the city’s 25 most legendary eating and drinking establishments with the launch of its “Legacy Bars & Restaurants” project in January 2013.
This cultural icon of San Francisco was slated to be sold to the highest bidder by Christie’s Auction House in New York City on May 23, 2013. On March 25, the Palace withdrew its intention to sell the painting in response to outcry from longtime patrons, public officials, and members of the preservation community. While the painting will be returned to the hotel after a museum-quality restoration in New York City, the owners have yet to indicate where it will be re-hung.
San Francisco Architectural Heritage and a coalition of heritage and arts organizations are committed to working with the owners to find a solution to conserve and permanently protect “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” at its original location.
Please sign this petition, which will be presented to the owners of the Palace Hotel, to signal your support for San Francisco's cultural legacy and the return of Maxfield Parrish's painting to its original place above the bar at the Pied Piper Bar and Grill.
For more information, please visit sfheritage.org. Like us at facebook.com/sfheritage.