Ruthenberg House: Leftist Cultural Center

Unfinished History

The Ruthenberg House at 121 Haight Street served as "the Workers Cultural Center" of San Francisco in the early 1930s. It housed the Workers' Library and Bookstore, the Workers' School, the Workers' Theater, International Labor Defense, the Workers' Sports Club, the San Francisco Film and Photo League, and a strike kitchen where food was served to strikers during the 1934 General Strike. Vigilantes attacked the Ruthenberg House in July 1934 as the General Strike was breaking out, shattering windows, and destroying the stage of the theater.

--Carla Leshne

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Empty lot today at 121 Haight

After the 1934 attack

Photo: Sid Roger Photo Collection, Labor Archives and Research Center, SFSU

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121 Haight Street during 1934 gubernatorial campaign, sign opposing campaign of Frank Merriam.

Photo: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library