Family of Lillie Hitchcock Coit Endorses Yes on B


For Immediate Release:  Thursday, May 31, 2012                                                                                           

News Release


The family of Lillie Hitchcock Coit today announced their endorsement of Proposition B, a measure on Tuesday’s San Francisco election ballot to preserve and protect Coit Tower and its historic murals by limiting commercial activities and private events there and by prioritizing funds generated at Coit Tower for its preservation.  The Coit family joins the daughters and descendants of artists who painted the 27 historic murals inside Coit Tower as part of a citywide coalition of artists, preservation groups, civic and neighborhood associations backing Proposition B.

“The Coit family strongly supports the campaign to protect Coit Tower from over-commercialization and preserve its historic murals from neglect and decay,” said Michael Coit, whose great-great aunt was Lillie Hitchcock Coit.  “Coit Tower perfectly reflects a city of civic minded people.  By passing Proposition B on Tuesday, San Francisco voters can show their appreciation for my great-great aunt’s generous gift to the city she loved.”

Joining Michael Coit in the official announcement of the Coit family’s support for Proposition B were his mother, Barbara Coit, the great-niece of Lillie Hitchcock Coit, Peter Coit, Jr., the great-nephew of Lillie Hitchcock Coit, Phil Coit, the great-great nephew of Lillie Hitchcock Coit, and Karen Coit Wozniak, Debbie Coit Smith, and Susie Coit Williams, the great-great nieces of Lillie Hitchcock Coit. 

The construction of Coit Tower was funded by money bequeathed to the City and County of San Francisco by “Firebelle” Lillie Hitchcock Coit in 1929 in her will “to add to the beauty of the city I have always loved.”  After a civic debate about the appropriate way to use Coit’s bequest, Coit Tower was erected in 1933 by architect Arthur Brown, Jr., who also designed San Francisco City Hall.  The following year, the federal Public Works of Art Project, a precursor to the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration, funded the work of the group of artists who painted 3,691 square feet of frescoes and oil paintings depicting life in California on the first and second floor walls inside Coit Tower.

If approved by city voters on Tuesday, Proposition B will put in place a new policy directing city officials to protect Coit Tower and its murals by prioritizing the funds raised at Coit Tower for preserving the murals, protecting the Coit Tower building, and beautifying Pioneer Park around Coit Tower and by strictly limiting commercial activities and private events at Coit Tower to maintain Coit Tower as a public place.  The measure was proposed in response to the neglect and poor oversight of Coit Tower by the city that has led to an array of problems outlined in a recent report, such as lead paint peeling from the ceiling, water leaks corroding the murals, and a crack in the top of the tower exterior.

“As proud Coit family members, to us Coit Tower is a treasured reminder of how some of our ancestors set out from their home base of Buffalo many years ago to the west coast to pursue their dreams,” said Susie Coit Williams.  “We are delighted to hear of the new funds dedicated to repair the damage to Coit Tower and hope the people of San Francisco will now join us in supporting Proposition B to give Coit Tower the permanent protection it needs and deserves.”

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