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Designer Ken Fulk breathes new life into an old Cathedral

Perennial life of the party, designer Ken Fulk is not someone you might immediately peg as the churchgoing type. But the devout sybarite has founded his own congregation at Saint Joseph’s Arts Society—a new San Francisco hot spot (part members’ club, part retail concept, part cultural center) set inside a 1913 cathedral. “We watched for years as the building fell into decline,” Fulk recalls of the long-vacant Romanesque Revival landmark, which he routinely passed on the way to work before buying it in 2016. “It was breathtaking but decrepit. We had to save it."

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Restored with the help of California architecture firm Page & Turnbull, the structure shines again, with refreshed finishes, repaired stained-glass windows, and a freestanding mezzanine that adds 9,000 square feet. The entry vestibule now serves as retail space, with the likes of publisher Assouline and apothecary Officine Universelle Buly alongside Fulk’s own finds; the mezzanine houses the first permanent West Coast outpost of Carpenters Workshop Gallery; and on the third level, Arts Society subscribers can access a private bar and lounge. Communal gathering spaces, meanwhile, fill the nave, which beckons guests toward the performance-ready apse. Fulk says it best: “I wanted the church to represent us on our brightest day - who we are as artists, what we can give back to the world.”

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