North Windmill
South Windmill
Windmill First
Campaign to
Save Windmills



Golden Gate Park, 1865


On April 4, an “Act to Provide for the Improvement of Public Parks in the City of San Francisco” created Golden Gate Park.

John McLaren, together with Park Commissioners Adolph B. Spreckles and Reuben Lloyd, convinced the Recreation and Park Commission to build a windmill 300 yards from the ocean. This windmill could take advantage of the prevailing winds to pump water for the park's irrigation system.

The Dutch (North) Windmill was completed at a cost of $25,000. Alpheus Bull Jr., a prominent San Franciscan, designed the North Windmill. The Fulton Engineering Company received the bid for the ironwork, and Pope and Talbot Lumber Company donated sails (“spars”) of Oregon pine.

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A cottage was built for the caretaker and his wife. In addition to his regular duties of maintaining the mill and positioning it into the wind, the caretaker planted a garden to raise vegetables for the animals in Golden Gate Park’s Menagerie.

Mayor Eugene Schmitz praised the vision of Spreckels and Lloyd for the success of the North Windmill. Samuel Murphy, Vice President of Hibernia Bank, financed the second windmill with a $20,000 donation. The South Windmill became the largest windmill of its kind in the world. Louis Sloss donated the copper for the dome, while George Zavier Wendling of the Wendling Cross Lumber Company donated all of the timber.

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Motorized pumps were installed to augment the production of the wind-driven system. With the windmills no longer performing a primary function, their maintenance was neglected and they eventually ceased to operate.

Eleanor Rossi Crabtree, daughter of Mayor Angelo Rossi, initiated a campaign to save the North Windmill.


As a result of Crabtree’s campaign, the North Windmill received cosmetic repairs, and the Queen Wilhelmina Tulip Garden was created on the adjacent grounds.

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The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department with San Francisco Beautiful, arranged for Lucas Verbij, a Dutch windmill design and construction expert, to carry out an extensive study of the South Windmill. Verbij concluded that the windmill required immediate attention.

A citizen group, spearheaded by Friends of Recreation and Parks, raised $8 million to initiate renovation of the west-end of Golden Gate Park. Improvements included restoration of the Beach Chalet restaurant and extensive landscaping enhancements including the park’s soccer fields.

In June, Friends of Recreation and Parks held a reception at the South Windmill and presented plans for a Community Center Pavilion. On behalf of the City of San Francisco, Supervisor Mark Leno announced that the City would commit $500,000 towards the restoration process. At this reception, the concept of a Campaign to Save the Golden Gate Park Windmills was born.  The first meeting of the Steering Committee of this campaign was held on August 1st.

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Golden Gate Park, 2001

The Recreation and Park Commission vote in support of the plan, presented by the Campaign to Save the Golden Gate Park Windmills.


The cap of the South Windmill is shipped to the Netherlands for restoration. Please click here to view photos of the restoration in progress.

In November 2008, Verbij Hoogmade, windmill design and construction returned the restored Dome to San Francisco. The Dome is currently reassembled next to the windmill and enclosed within a shed to protect the Dome from the elements. While finishing the wooden tower the restored Dome will be made waterproof with copper cladding.
Please click here to view photos of the restoration in progress.

Work continues on the restoration of the windmill and plans are being developed for a volunteer miller program and well as a function for the windmill.

Work continued throughout the first part of the year but halted in Fall 2010 as new contractor sought for project.

Roebuck Construction, new contractor, begins  work on the project.   

Renovation of Millwright Cottage happening concurrently.

September 12, 2011
Refurbished cap is placed back on the top of the windmill as well as the spars.

Please click the links below to see the entire refurbishment as well as the recapping ceremony.

To view the photo gallery of the Murphy Windmill Restoration Project go to:  http://www.ronhenggeler.com

Photos of the recent work by Roebuck Construction beginning in June 2011, start on page 8 with photo # 278.

(New photos will continue to be added into the website and will appear on the last pages in this Murphy Windmill Restoration section.)


The Murphy Windmill Project

A 3D model of the Murphy Windmill has been produced and is live on  Google Earth.   To view this model, please make sure that the 3D Buildings Layer box is ticked in Google Earth.   To view,  click on this link.

Watch website for news about ceremonies & celebrations on this exciting and momentous project.

To volunteer, donate to the campaign or for general information, please contact Natasha Yankoffski at (415) 733.3001.

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