The Stern Grove Festival is a charming artistic venue that has delighted audiences since 1932. And like many San Francisco stories, there’s a direct connection to jeans, Levis Jeans.
Originally, the 33 acres site included a 19th century inn which was surrounded by a grove of eucalyptus trees. This popular retreat for the rich and famous fell on hard times with the arrival of prohibition.
In 1931, Rosalie Stern purchased the property as she wanted to honor her deceased husband, Sigmund. And Sigmund’s family dates back to early Levis days.
At the time, Rosalie was the chair of what would become San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission. She bought the property which was famous for its micro-climate and exceptional acoustics, courtesy of the eucalyptus trees.
She then gave it to the city with three simple requirements. It could only be used for recreation and no religious or political activities would be permitted. True to her wishes, Stern Grove was inaugurated in 1932 with Chopin and Haydn concerts, and folk dances from Eastern Europe countries.
Starting in 1938, outdoor performances began to take place during the summer months, all of which were completely free and financed by generous donors. Already at the time, some 150,000 people flocked on Sundays to listen to music or attend high-quality shows.
When Rosalie Stern passed away in 1956, the story continued, and even today it is her descendants who preside over the Stern Grove Festival in partnership with San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission.
The site was completely renovated in 2004 with the addition of stone bleachers, the installation of new sound and lighting equipment, changing rooms for artists … all for more than 15 million dollars again financed by private donors.
Although things have changed for 82 years, the spirit of the festival has remained.
You can have a picnic, attend yoga classes before the performances or enroll your children in art discovery workshops … always for free!
The complete program of the Stern Grove Festival 2019 here.
Take a picnic, sweaters, and blankets; it can be chilly even in the summer and listen to the San Francisco Symphony, see the San Francisco Ballet and many other internationally renowned artists.
Merci Stern Grove