About Quizzes

Ghirardelli Square

Born in Rapallo, Italy in 1817, Domenico "Domingo" Ghirardelli was well versed in the confectionery and chocolate trade by the time he was 20. In 1849, Ghirardelli sailed for the San Francisco Bay to ply his trade in America. Ghirardelli opened a store on Kearny at Washington with a partner named Girard, until his wife joined him as a business partner and formed Mrs. Ghirardelli & Company. The store that firmly established the Ghirardelli name was on Jackson Street, circa 1856, where it flourished for the next 40 years. From this factory, Domingo shipped chocolate products throughout the United States, Mexico, Hawaii, and British Columbia. At that time, the factory numbered among the largest in the western half of North America. In 1889, Ghirardelli officially signed over ownership of his business to his sons. They purchased an entire block of property for their headquarters in 1893, which overlooked San Francisco Bay. On the property were a woolen mill, apartment building, and several other structures. The Ghirardellis began a spectacular building program. In 1915, Ghirardelli Square was the result. Domingo retired in 1892 at the age of 75. During a visit to the same little Italian town from which he'd departed more than a half century earlier, Domingo Ghirardelli passed away in 1894. In the 1960s, the Golden Grain Macaroni Company bought Ghirardelli Chocolate and relocated it to a modern new facility across the bay in San Leandro. Fearing that the historic buildings on the property would be torn down and replaced by a modern apartment complex, William Matson Roth and his mother, Mrs. William P. Roth, purchased the entire Ghirardelli block. In addition to restoring as many of the original structures as possible, William Roth introduced a new marketing method by evolving the old chocolate factory into a lovely brick-terraced courtyard of shops and fine restaurants. In November 1964, Ghirardelli Square reopened and is considered to be the first successful adaptive reuse project in the country. In order to ensure its preservation for future generations, Ghirardelli Square was accorded National Historic Register status in 1982.