Stern Grove History

Purchasing the Grove
The grove in which the Stern Grove Music Festival takes place was historically covered with marshes and sand dunes. After the mid 1800s, this parcel of land was reclaimed by draining the marshes and converted to agricultural use. It eventually became the homestead of George Green and his family. Green made the land more inhabitiable by planting eucalyptus trees as windbreaks and planting grass on the dunes to hold down the sand. In 1931, Rosalie M. Stern purchased the land from the Green family, and donated it to the City of San Francisco as a memorial to her late husband, Sigmund Stern. Sigmund Stern was a predominant business and civic leader during the early 1900s. Additionally, Rosalie Stern also made donations to the Berkeley and Stanford University campuses, where dormitories named for the Stern family can be found.

Creating the Park and the Festival
Rosalie Stern was President of the San Francisco Recreation Commission at the time she gave the grove to San Francisco. She stipulated that the land be preserved as a public park to be used for concerts and performances. Stern Grove was dedicated on 4 June 1932, and two weeks later, the San Francisco Symphony gave a free concert in the Grove. The valley in which the grove sits gave it excellent acoustic properties. Rosalie Stern also formed the Stern Grove Festival Association in 1938 with the purpose of ensuring that all future concerts would be free to the public.

Administering the Grove
Rosalie Stern was the head of the Association until she died in 1956. Rosalie's daughter, Elise Stern Hass, took up the position, who was later followed by Rhoda Hass Goldman, Rosalie’s granddaughter. Rhoda Goldman passed away in 1996 and then her son, Dr. Douglas E. Goldman, became chair of the Association.

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