The original International Hotel building was built after the San Francisco Earth Quake. It became popular with Filipino laborers and quickly became the epicenter of historic Manilatown. For thousands of newly arrived migrants from the Philippines International Hotel played a major role in the socialization and upward mobility of many Filipino people.
The original International Hotel building was built after the San Francisco Earthquake in 1907.
However, in 1968, Milton Meyer purchased International Hotel and made plans to redevelop the property. That October, tenants were served an order to evacuate the property by January 1, 1979.
The following year a fire destroyed the third floor of International Hotel resulting in three deaths. It is still unclear how the fire started. The damage notwithstanding, in the summer and fall months of 1969 volunteers organized to rebuild the damaged floor. This raised the spirit of activism among many people who were linked to International Hotel. As such, the following spring of 1970 a community center and a book store were established in the first floor storefronts of International Hotel. Two years later, the tenets of International Hotel organized and founded the International Hotel Tenants Association, so they could better organize to fight evictions
Less than one year later the For Seas Investment Company purchased International Hotel from Milton Meyer and the company orders tenants to vacate the property the following year in 1974. For three years the International Hotel Tenants Association led a grassroots effort to stop the evictions. This effort gained a high profile that in 1976 then Mayor of San Francisco George Moscone proposes that eminent domain be used to keep International Hotel out of the private real estate market. This sparked a major grassroots effort to take the International Hotel public. The community mobilized its efforts to stop evictions. Local Bay Area universities such as UC-Berkeley and San Francisco State University organized student protests and demonstrates against eviction. However, the eviction order was sent, but the local Sheriff refused to serve the eviction. Furthermore, the San Francisco court rejects the appeal for eminent domain exhausting the last legal effort to stop evictions. Finally, on August 4, 1977 more than ten years after the first eviction order was served tenets of International Hotel were forcefully evicted from the property.
Local university students joined with International Hotel residents and local activists to prevent evictions.
Although tenants eventually lost the fight to keep their homes, ten years of struggle developed advocacy skills and training for many people. This struggle served as a launching point for many prominent Bay Area activists. In fact, San Francisco’s current Mayor Ed Lee participated in the fight to stop evictions. Yet the amazing grassroots effort to save the residents’ homes was not enough and the International Hotel was demolished shortly after the last person moved out. But this demolition lead to more activism and prompts then Mayor Dianne Feinstein to establish the International Hotel Block Development Citizens Advisory Committee in 1979. This lead to financial investments and zoning ordinances that blocked the Four Seas Investment Corporation from moving forward to development plans. For ten years the Four Seas Investment Corporation negotiated with the International Hotel Block Development Citizens Advisory Committee, but eventually the Four Seas had to withdraw citing financial infeasibility.
During the 1990’s the International Hotel Block Development Citizens Advisory Committee collaborated with St. Mary’s Chinese Schools and Catholic Schools and Chinatown Community Development Center to develop a new International Hotel building. In 1994 the United States Housing and Urban Development Department grants 8.3 million dollars to help the Chinatown Community Development Center and the International Hotel Block Development Citizens Advisory Committee to develop a new senior citizen residential complex. In the 1990s the Manilatown Heritage Foundation was established in an effort to track down former residents and construct a narrative of International Hotel. Furthermore, in 1998 the Four Seas Investment Corporations sells the property to the San Francisco Archdiocese which paved the way for construction of a new residential complex to be name International Hotel. So between the years of 1998 and 2005 the Chinatown Community Development Corporation develops a new International Hotel building. The new building consists of 104 units of senior housing and a community space for the Manilatown Heritage Foundation. On August 26, 2005 the new International Hotel and International Hotel Manilatown Center opens to the public.
The new International Hotel building opened in 2005.