SF Eagle in SOMA gets city landmark status

SF Eagle in SOMA gets city landmark status
Photo: Riley Norris/Facebook
By Jay Barmann - Published on October 06, 2021.

The Eagle Tavern, or as it's most recently been known the SF Eagle (398 12th St.), was given landmark status by the SF Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, becoming the third LGBTQ bar site in San Francisco to get the historic landmark distinction.

The board voted unanimously Tuesday to approve landmark status for the bar, following similar approvals by the Historic Preservation Commission and the board's Land Use and Transportation Committee.

Supervisor Matt Haney took to Twitter to celebrate, and he thanked his aide Honey Mahogany for helping shepherd the bar to landmark status. He also noted this is just the seventh LGBTQ landmark site in the city.


Two other SF LGBTQ bar sites have been made landmarks: Twin Peaks Tavern in the Castro (notable for being the first gay bar in the city to have windows facing the street so patrons could be seen inside), and the former Paper Doll bar and restaurant site in North Beach.

Fans of the Eagle, many of whom are part of the gay leather community, were anxious to learn that the bar property was up for sale a year ago, though it appears not to be on the market now.

There is still no immediate danger of the bar itself closing, even if a property sale goes through. And now that the bar has landmark status, removing it from this location could prove more difficult.

The Eagle opened in 1981 at a time when much of this part of SoMa was populated with gay leather bars. The area now has only four remaining — Hole in the Wall, Powerhouse, the Lone Star (sometimes), and the Eagle — along with a few leather businesses like Mr. S Leather (385 8th St.). As of two years ago, these are all now part of the Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District, and the area of 12th Street directly outside the Eagle is now a public plaza called Eagle Plaza.

The Eagle remained closed throughout the pandemic, but reopened for business in June.

Current owner Lex Montiel, speaking before the Land Use Committee last month, said, "The San Francisco Eagle has been an institution for many, many years," and it's remained a vital touchstone because it is "open to every color and flavor of our community."

And, also during that meeting, per the Bay Area Reporter, Haney called the bar "a cornerstone of the Leather and LGBTQ Cultural District, an important historical asset, a cultural institution, and a community anchor that deserves all of the protections and privileges that the city can provide." And Haney added "it is imperative that we acknowledge this significance, and that we endeavor to prevent this rich history and essential part of SOMA from being erased due to the de-stabilizing pressures of ongoing gentrification and development."