We Met Juan Mertins

An ongoing series illustrating the diary of my grandmother Helen Hussey. Current entries: The San Francisco Sojourn 1939-1940.Full Map

Monday April 10, 1939. “Jeanne and I to the Fair. Saw an exhibit at the Palace of Fine and Decorative Arts. Marvelous!”

Palace Of Fine And Decorative Arts

Palace of Decorative and Fine Arts (N)

“To El Salvador to see ‘the Goats.’ Then to the Guatemala Bldg.”

House of El Salvidor

Latin America Court (8): Mexico, El Salvidor, Panama, Guatemala, Peru, Columbia, Chile, Ecuador.

hans-mertins-paintings as Smart Object-1 Ferry Commuters

“We met artist Juan Mertins, most charming. Met him on the ferry and then had scotch with him. It was a grand day, but cold.”
The piece shown has all the characteristics of Juan Mertins early paintings and was exhibited at the Golden Gate International Exposition. His real name was Hans Mertins but he used to sign his paintings under his artistic name: Juan Mertins. He was a known artist in the San Francisco area during the 1920’s. He also painted backgrounds for Hollywood films. Since Helen had also worked in Hollywood studios, they may have had a lot to talk about. He is mentioned repeatedly in the diary, so clearly they struck up a friendship.

Tuesday April 11, 1939. “Quiet lazy day. At nite met Sam at Marc’s. Went with Palmer, Marion, and Ruth to celebrate Palmer’s birthday. Drinks at the office + then to Izzy’s for dinner. Got a dent in the fender on the way home.”

Thursday April 13, 1939. “Went to the Fair alone. To the Palace of Fine and Decorative Arts and the Guatemala building. Saw the Horticulture Palace and then to the Guatemala Building. Juan Mertins gave me a drink: Creme de Menthe. Listened to both Marimbas -Fun! The Berkeley gal and Juan Mertins waited for me, then home. Nice day.”


Florence Cafe was at 1968 Lombard. It’s Thai Cuisine in the Google street photo.

Friday April 14, 1939. “Met Sam and went to dinner at Florence Cafe. Then to Izzy’s-also Villa Turin. Fun!”


Located at 800 Montgomery Street the building survives and is a Historic Landmark.


The Sherman Bank is part of Jackson Square Historic District.

Saturday April 15, 1939. “I met Sam at noon after taking Jeanne to the ferry. Lunch at Villa Turin. Then to Izzy’s, Chinese cocktail bar, then back to Izzy’s. Then…”
Hang Far Low Site Today

Google view of Hang Far Low site, 723 Grant Avenue.

“…Dinner at Hang Far Lows. Back to Izzy’s again. Met Englishmen…”

Sinaloas as Smart Object-1

“…To Sinaloa. Home about 10:30”

1416 PowellStreet

1416 Powell Street Today

I am Dan Soderberg, award winning documentary film maker and phototgrapher specializing in architecture, historic preservation and nature.

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