Rainbow Heritage Network Supports Lyon-Martin House

The work Lyon and Martin did in their Duncan Street home elevated the rights that many queer people and women have today;  this space is a critical piece of local, state, national, and global LGBTQ+ history. 


Dear President Norman Yee and President Aaron Jon Hyland,


As an organization dedicated to recognizing and preserving sites associated with LGBTQ history, we are writing to urge the Board of Supervisors and the Historic Preservation Commission to designate the home of Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin at 649-651 Duncan Street as a San Francisco Landmark.  This place holds great significance to local and national history, even beyond its association with LGBTQ histories. 

The nomination prepared by Shayne Watson and others details the building’s associations to several important themes in San Francisco’s history that illustrate the changing nature of that neighborhood.


Together Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin were crucial to forming the first lesbian rights organization in the U.S., the Daughters of Bilitis in 1955, the same year the couple purchased the Duncan Street house. They lived there until each died, Martin in 2008, and Lyon in 2020.


In addition to their prominent roles in LGBTQ history, Marin and Lyon engaged in championing the rights of so many other communities, from people subject to police violence and harassment, to women who faced intimate partner violence, to rights for seniors.


We echo the Friends of the Lyon-Martin House’s description of the residence as

“an important repository of significant moments that contributed to social reform and drove intersectional progressive change for marginalized communities throughout California and beyond.  Lyon and Martin did not lead single-issue lives; they were committed to ensuring that others could live their lives in safety, have access to opportunities, and experience and enjoy full inclusion and equal rights. Within this house, Lyon and Martin wrote, strategized, organized and fought against the barriers of oppression. And in doing so, forced the world to change and turn toward the side of justice.”


The work Lyon and Martin did in their Duncan Street home elevated the rights that many queer people and women have today;  this space is a critical piece of local, state, national, and global LGBTQ+ history.  


We encourage the City to recognize and honor this history by giving serious consideration to Landmark designation for the Lyon-Martin House, so that its enormous historical value is preserved for future generations.


Sincerely,


The Rainbow Heritage Network Board