The Haas Sisters of Franklin Street: A San Francisco Memoir of Family and Love

Outfitted with a new foreword by Kevin Starr, this account of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century San Francisco vividly evokes the luxurious lifestyle and close bond shared by sisters Alice Haas Lilienthal and Florine Haas Bransten. While author Frances Bransten Rothmann recreates her mother and aunt’s world of leisure with lively descriptions of high tea at the Palace Hotel, excursions across oceans, and extravagant holiday celebrations that overfilled ballrooms with celebrants, her narrative is much more than a chronicle of empty opulence. Rothmann makes clear that the true treasure of those Franklin Street houses was Florine and Alice’s devotion to each other, their families, and their community. In inhabiting the sisters’ daily lives of telephone calls, errands, inside jokes, and myriad philanthropic projects, we can delight in the profound sense of wellbeing—of home—that emanates from the pages. And by witnessing two lifetimes full of kindnesses that extended from family to perfect strangers, we too can see the best in others and in the marvelous City by the Bay.

Published in collaboration with San Francisco Heritage on the occasion of their completing the renovation of the Haas-Lilienthal House, this book brings to life a San Francisco of the past and tells the story of a family united by love.


“A lively memoir that deserves top recommendation for any San Francisco history library, peppering its personal story with vintage photos throughout a family memoir that is personal and revealing, recreating the sights, sounds and experiences of a bygone era.”—Midwest Book Review


“This beautifully written book, with its many historical anecdotes and insights, is both a delight to read as well as a valuable contribution to our knowledge about San Francisco Jewish history.”—David G. Dalin, author of Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court, from Brandeis to Kagan

About the Author

Frances Bransten Rothmann (1914–1984) was born and raised in San Francisco. She graduated from Barnard College in 1937. In addition to The Haas Sisters of Franklin Street, she authored the book My Father, Edward Bransten: His Life and Letters (Judah L. Magnes Museum, 1982).