Honor Their History: Restore and Reinvent the Home of Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin

The modest structure located at 651 Duncan Street in San Francisco’s Noe Valley neighborhood is more than just a house—it is where lesbian advocates Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin made history for LGBTQ people and worked tirelessly to advance their civil rights.

From the moment they purchased the property in 1955, Phyllis and Del energized the San Francisco LGBTQ community, offering their living room as a safe organizing space to validate and decriminalize lesbian identity, shape anti-violence and anti-discrimination policies, and promote marriage equality and elder rights.

Lyon and Martin continued to shatter barriers well into their 80s, achieving international recognition in 2004 as the first same-sex couple married in San Francisco. The couple married a second time in 2008 immediately following the California Supreme Court decision—in which they were plaintiffs—establishing that it is unconstitutional for the state to ban same-sex couples from obtaining a civil marriage. 

Today, the effort to restore and reinvent their long-vacant home is underway. Just recently, the property was designated a local historic landmark—the first in the City of San Francisco to recognize and celebrate lesbian activism. 

In the coming months and years, the National Trust and its local partners will engage in a virtual documentation project to create an interactive record of the home. Additionally, we will work with the local community to identify a new use of property so that future legacies can be created there. 

A movement found a home at 651 Duncan Street, and the history made there must live on to inspire future generations. Sign our pledge to support this important work and to honor the history and legacy of the Lyon-Martin House.

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