Noe Valley home of LGBTQ pioneers gets landmark status

Tessa McLean, SFGATE

Oct. 27, 2020 Updated: May 5, 2021 10:01 a.m. (

651 Duncan, the former home of two LGBTQ pioneers, has received landmark status.
651 Duncan, the former home of two LGBTQ pioneers, has received landmark status.Aerial Canvas

The former San Francisco home of two lesbian pioneers has been officially granted landmark status, approved unanimously by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin [both long-time members of The Prosperos] were the first couple to be married by San Francisco officials in defiance of California’s ban on same-sex marriage. The duo were also co-founders of the Daughters of Bilitis, the first political and social organization for lesbians in the United States.

Lyon and Martin lived in the small Noe Valley house at 651 Duncan during most of their 54 years together and oversaw the garden spanning one side of the double lot. The city’s lesbian community often used the space for meetings and events.Read More

Martin died in 2008 and Lyon died at the age of 95 in April 2019.

District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who is gay, submitted the resolution to begin the Historic Preservation Commission’s approval process in October 2020.

“This particular home was a place where a lot of history got made over many decades by two extraordinary women,” Mandelman said. “Del and Phyllis envisioned queer rights before anyone could have imagined that would be a thing. … They changed the course of history for millions of queer people and did it all from this little cottage in Noe Valley.”

While landmarking will not require any public recognition on the property, it would limit the development of the land should the new owners of the home want to demolish the 756-square-foot property in favor of a larger structure.

The property was listed for $3 million in August 2020 and sold for $2.25 million in September.

This is the first LGBTQ historic site in a solely residential neighborhood. Four other LGBTQ locations currently hold landmark status, but they all are in commercial corridors.

Editor’s note: This story was updated May 5, 2021, when the home’s landmark status was approved.

Written ByTessa McLeanReach Tessa on

Tessa is a Local Editor for SFGATE. Before joining the team in 2019, she specialized in food, drink and lifestyle content for numerous publications including, The Bold Italic, 7×7 and more. Contact her at

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