+ Noe Valley Ministry | Presbyterian Church, USA | 1270 Sanchez St., San Francisco, CA 94114 +    
  The Noe Valley Ministry

Who We Are Today

Supporting Community Programming - Noe Valley Ministry is a House of Community and a progressive Presbyterian House of Prayer. Since its inception over three decades ago, Noe Valley Ministry has reached beyond the walls of its home on Sanchez Street to create a worshipping faith community and a safe place for sharing common interests, serving those in need, working for social justice, appreciating the arts, and working on personal and spiritual challenges. Within its walls has been a wide spectrum of community programming including two musical series, self-help programs, senior citizen services, an array of classes for adults and children, and a co-op nursery school. Serving both San Francisco and the Noe Valley neighborhood, the Ministry has always seen its mission as building and supporting community.

Cultural and Spiritual Diversity - NVM opens its doors to people of all faiths. Not only is its own communion celebrated at an all-inclusive table; it also provides space and support for other faith communities.

Community Outreach - NVM has been the birthplace of many social justice groups and organizations. Our Mercy and Justice Committee actively identifies ways to connect to and help fulfill important needs within the community. It supports a group of local organizations with service and financial contributions. Other support for the needy includes food coupons, participation in food drives, providing meals for homeless and blanket drives. We also have a long history of anti-nuclear demonstrations and marching to support gay rights.

A Tapestry of Art - 1021 Sanchez is known throughout the Bay Area as a venue for musical innovation from contemporary chamber music series to internationally known jazz, folk, pop and Polynesian musicians. In fact, it has provided a stage for many well-known contemporary artists. It is also home to Gallery Sanchez with a full calendar of local artists' exhibitions.

Where Noe Valley Has Been

A Snapshot of the Past - Just to give you a little perspective, here is a superfast three-century history of Noe Valley and the Ministry. Before San Francisco's European settlement, what we know as Noe Valley was occupied by the Costanoan and Ohlone tribes, who hunted, gathered, and lived in temporary tule reed dwellings. It was highly desirable real estate even then as it contained springs and hills for protection from ocean winds and rain.

With the construction of Mission Dolores in 1776, Noe Valley was used agriculturally to support the Mission. In 1845, Mexican Governor Pico granted Jose de Jesus Noe, one of the last Mexican magistrates of Yerba Buena, 4,443-acres that became the San Miguel Rancho. Noe established a ranch on the land and constructed buildings in the valley that now bears his name.

In 1853, John Horner purchased Rancho San Miguel from Noe for $200,000. "Horner's Addition" changed from a sparsely populated area of small farms and dairies to a more densely developed neighborhood in the 1880s when it burgeoned with residences, grocery stores, bars, stables, doctors' offices, churches and fire stations. The community was comprised primarily of working class residents. Many of the homes in Noe Valley were constructed by carpenter-builders who charged $290-360 per room for cottages.

Local transportation advanced in tandem with Noe Valley's growing population. The neighborhood was first served by the Macadamized Road, a privately-owned toll road built in 1862. It ran from the vicinity of Mission Dolores to the ocean. In 1877, SF's Board of Supervisors purchased the road to create a free public highway. In the 1880s, the Castro Street and 24th Street cable cars replaced steam-operated transit cars and Noe Valley became better connected to other neighborhoods.

The area was not substantially impacted by the 1906 Earthquake or the fire. In fact, Noe Valley provided water, food and shelter to earthquake refugees from other parts of San Francisco. After the earthquake, the neighborhood experienced another surge of growth as San Francisco's displaced population settled in the undamaged area.

Built in 1881, the Ministry building was in response to a neighborhood request for Sunday School. It has continuously functioned as a Presbyterian church and it was originally called Lebanon Church, from the biblical reference to the cedars of Lebanon. A historically significant building — a prime example of the Victorian Gothic style as the Carpenter Gothic style — it is one of a handful of wood frame churches surviving San Francisco's 1906 disaster.

From Noe Valley's initial development to the present day, the neighborhood has been characterized as a residential village within the larger city of San Francisco. Construction thrived from 1906 to World War II as houses, flats, and storefronts were built in response to the influx of working people. After the Depression, and again after World War II, many families divided their single family homes into multiple family dwellings that could be rented out.

As the number of commercial businesses on the 24th Street corridor increased, the cost of the rent in the area also increased. A 1970 SF Examiner article noted that the character of Noe Valley had changed as young, single professionals moved to the area and as it became heavily populated by renters rather than working-class home owners. While Lebanon Church was a large and active church in its heyday, by the early 1970s, its congregation had dwindled; it no longer had the resources to continue.

In 1979, the church was reborn. With it came a renaissance of community, spirit, and even a name-change. The congregation reclaimed its place as an active urban church. In concert with renewed church growth came the transformation of Noe Valley itself. As it became increasingly family and community-oriented, it was clear that the area required a "hub" for its heart and soul. The Noe Valley Ministry has well earned its reputation as a center for neighborhood and community, a place for outreach, healing, creativity, spirituality, refreshment, opportunity and enrichment.

Where We're Headed

Things change - the horses, grand old movie theater and the gas station on 24th Street are all gone now - but we're still here and we're still doing what we do best. In the new millennium, it is clear that our mandate includes revitalizing the space in which we live. The ability to respond to all the needs and changes of an urban community (both positive and negative) require a gathering place such as the Noe Valley Ministry.

Why now? Over the years, building use has increased to the point that as many as one thousand people pass through the doors daily. In order to accommodate this increased traffic which this small building was never intended for, we need to renovate and plan for the expanded usage of the space. NVM is taking the next step in realizing a vision of an ever-expanding center for community within its soon-to-be renovated, architecturally significant home.

Ministry leaders are pursuing their vision by embarking on a $3.5 million project that will improve the facilities, allowing for expansion of programming to serve a greater breadth of neighborhood and city needs. It will focus on two core requirements: 1) addressing structural needs and 2) building the bridge to new possibilities for extended community.

What Are The Benefits?

The project to renovate the NVM building as the Noe Valley Ministry and Community Center will result in:

  • A firmer foundation and modern infrastructure for earthquake readiness and expanded systems - implementation of this plan will result in a safe building that not only welcomes, but better serves community. A redesign will provide increased multi-purpose gathering places, better space utilization soundproofing, and up-dated lighting, plumbing and heating.
  • Accessibility for the disabled and elderly - By adding an elevator to the upper level as well as handicapped bathrooms on both levels, we will be able to guarantee full access to all, and move into a complete compliance with the federally-mandated Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • A guarantee of space for all ages and all stages - Through renovated facilities for the comprehensive day care program, the assortment of children's classes, the on-going senior center, and the association for retarded citizens, we will insure multi-generational opportunities.
  • Enhancement of the artistic and musical programming - This long-time centerpiece of the Ministry's outreach to the greater San Francisco arts community will gain state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems, full community access, better sight lines and traffic flow.

Your Participation Requested

We are now ready to expand this commitment to do more than provide space. With this project, we will move toward implementing a vision for a comprehensive center for community - a place that encourages connection, cooperation, communication, education, inspiration - and just plain fun!

Intentional programming within improved facilities will honor our past while moving into the future. People meeting people, people helping people, people working with and caring for people - these are the building blocks for peace and progress in this world.

We Are Seeking Your Support - A church capital campaign always begins and ends with its congregation. However, the Ministry's extraordinary vision extends far beyond its members. Therefore, the Ministry's dedicated leadership must look beyond to the wider community for philanthropic support.

We face the challenge of producing programs relevant to the changing community, of identifying long range community goals, and of building awareness of vital services and opportunities to the community at large.

To date, we have received much positive feedback in support of our vision, and we believe in it this new urban garden of possibilities. We invite you to pick up rakes and spades with us!