San Francisco’s Sir Francis Drake Hotel will be called The Beacon Grand in the latest attempt in the Bay Area to rename streets and landmarks after the slave-trading explorer.
For 94 years the hotel, famous for the Beefeater doormen who greet tourists and passersby on the sidewalk by Union Square, paid tribute to Francis Drake, the first English sea captain to circumnavigate the globe in the 1500s.
But he also participated in slaving voyages to Africa, and the use of his name came under scrutiny as the Black Lives Matter movement prompted a nationwide reexamination of place names and monuments with ties to racism.
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A school district in San Anselmo, north of San Francisco, voted last year to rename Sir Francis Drake Hotel to honor Archie Williams, a Black Olympic gold medalist and World War II veteran. Fairfax, a town in Marin County, also renamed a stretch of the 43-mile-long Sir Francisco Drake Boulevard to Coastal Miwok Trail.
The 416-room hotel, which has been shuttered since the onset of the pandemic, is scheduled to reopen this spring following a makeover of interior elements. A spokeswoman for the Northview Hotel Group, which purchased the hotel last year for about $157 million, told The San Francisco Chronicle the rebranding of the hotel will preserve components of the property’s past.
“Everything was done with so much thought for such an iconic property,” Leah Goldstein said. ”We are not just changing the name and then quickly changing everything about the hotel. It is all much more intentional than that.”