This San Francisco Shop Had a Sordid Past as a Brothel and Gun-Slinging Saloon

A year after the 1906 earthquake ravaged San Francisco, the city began to rebuild by erecting ornate structures. One such Pacific Avenue building, completed in 1907, now houses Grow, a female-owned and-run experiential marketing agency. Long before its current tenant moved in, the space’s upper floors housed a brothel and a nightclub, while its ground-level saloon, owned by boxer Spider Kelly, was considered the worst dive in the world. But now that it’s home to a respectable business, the décor had to match. “Our top priority was for our space to reflect the aesthetic and attention to detail that defines our work,” said co-founders Cassie Hughes and Gabrey Means. “Nothing in our office was designed without intention; every wall, detail and plug was plotted with care. We wanted an open-floor layout with several nooks that would make our team excited and inspired to come to work every day. We spend so much time here that we wanted it to feel more like a home than a traditional office space.”


True Colors

The peacocks serve to remind the team to always show their true colors. 


French Inspiration

The Parisian motif is carried throughout the office, from the architectural moldings to the chandeliers and eclectic patterns.



The open space has several glass conference rooms that provide privacy but still reflect the transparent aesthetic.


Creative Energy

Art, architecture, travel and design books stir imagination and creativity.

This story first appeared in the Oct. 12 issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.