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Places We Go : The Silver Lining of a Root Canal

Two weekends ago, I suddenly had severe tooth pain. A molar that already had a root canal. I got right in to see my Alameda endodontist late Friday afternoon but had to wait until the following Monday to get a second root canal. Over the weekend, I just couldn't think - even breathing hurt. I hope you haven't had that feeling but if you have, you know it's not fun. As it turns out, even a root canal has a silver lining.

On Monday, my endodontist was working in her San Francisco office at 450 Sutter, built in 1929 solely for doctor and dentist offices. Driving into the City seemed like cruel and unusual punishment but I had to get relief. As I entered the building, I momentarily forgot the pain. Lookin around, I felt instantly transported into a 1920's Art Deco world.

Each elevator door was a work of art. What was this building?

The detail in the ceiling and the three hanging chandeliers would have taken my breath away even on a good day.

As I was getting my root canal, all I could think about was the what pictures to take when I finally to back to the lobby. Who stops to take photos after a root canal?

The facade was fit for a palace. 450 Sutter was bought by Portlander Harold Schnitzer's Harsch Investments in 1963. The current CEO is his son, Jordan. Who knew? I had to chuckle as I knew Jordan in college when we had one uneventful date.

I found out later that during a three-year restoration in the late 2010s, thousands of worn-out exterior terra cotta tiles were replaced. Across the street was the Philippine Consulate General and next door, a McDonald's. I got a chocolate shake (big splurge) for the way home as I was cautioned not to take the pain meds on an empty stomach. Another silver lining.

Classic Art Deco still permeates modern interiors. This NYC entry, with its stylish floor and silvery ceiling, could easily be imagined in 450 Sutter.


I love this modern French living room with an Art Deco-style coffee table and black&white grid carpet.

And a truly modern bathroom inspired by Miami's Art Deco style. Art Deco isn't my jam but I truly appreciate the beauty of the era. Moderne glass light fixtures, black&white color palettes and grid patterned floors are all Art Decor influences we still love. Hope you have a happy Sunday!

Art Deco ~ Its name was derived from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, held in Paris in 1925, where the style was first exhibited. Art Deco design represented modernism turned into fashion. Its products included both individually crafted luxury items and mass-produced wares, but, in either case, the intention was to create a sleek and anti-traditional elegance that symbolized wealth and sophistication.

The distinguishing features of the style are simple, clean shapes, often with a “streamlined” look; ornament that is geometric or stylized from representational forms; and unusually varied, often expensive materials, which frequently include man- ~ Britannica

A brief history of 450 Sutter -

"450 Sutter was originally the concept of Francis Edward Morgan, Jr., a wealthy, eccentric dentist. His idea was to create a building in San Francisco that was just for doctors and dentists, and that’s where the inspiration for 450 Sutter Street came from. To bring this vision to life, renowned San Francisco architect Timothy Pflueger and his architecture firm were hired. Pflueger wanted to try something different. He wanted to design a building that was truly “American” in heritage. He looked toward the ancient Mayan civilization that flourished in Mexico and parts of Central America for thousands of years. He blended Mayan inspiration with Art Deco style, creating one of the first “Neo-Mayan” designs in the United States. 

The building was completed and officially opened on October 15th, 1929. It was the second-tallest building in San Francisco, and though this cannot be confirmed, it was also regarded as the largest purpose-built medical building in the world at the time. 

The timing of 450 Sutter opening was not exactly great, though. It opened just days before the late October stock market crash of 1929 that marked the beginning of the Great Depression. Because of this and the entrance of the U.S. into World War II, 450 Sutter Street was the last skyscraper built in San Francisco until the late 1950s post-war building boom.

In December 2009, the National Register of Historic Places officially added 450 to their register, describing it as a “masterwork” of architecture by Timothy Pflueger."

~Sutter Dental Collective


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