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Bay Landmark Preserved for Public in Perpetuity

May 04, 1986|RALPH SHAFFER | Special to The Times

SAN FRANCISCO — Everybody knows the Filbert Steps. It's that public staircase alongside two acres of flowers, trees and shrubs cascading down Telegraph Hill's view side of the bay--a favorite haunt of city residents and visitors.

Earlier this month, it was saved from development changes and preserved once-and-for-all in public usage by the Trust for Public Lands. Known officially--as well as sentimentally--as the Grace Marchant Gardens, the run-down site was brought to life by Grace Marchant more than 35 years ago and made an urban showcase by her until her death in 1982.

Recently, Dixon Kelly, owner of a lot adjoining the walkway, sought permission to remove a small cottage and to build on the adjacent property. The plan was opposed by neighbors and preservationists, and a campaign was started to obtain contributions to purchase the lot and small building in question.

About $190,000 was raised from more than 4,000 private donors--many of whom adopted one-inch square plots of the area. Additional funds to purchase the $320,000 property will come from the Trust for Public Lands. The site and the walkway, which contain over 130 varieties of greenery and flowering plant life will be maintained for public use in perpetuity.

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