Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The end of Mrs. Dewson's in San Francisco

Walked up Fillmore Street in San Francisco today & saw signs on the front of Mrs. Dewson's Hats saying "Store Closed: Thanks for 37 Great Years!" Looked around online, and the New Fillmore neighborhood paper says that, yes, the place is really closed.

I'd be terrified personally to wear any hat more formal than knit or baseball or, at a stretch, mock-Aussie, but for any San Franciscan this is the end of an era. Mrs. Ruth Dewson was haberdasher to former Mayor Willie Brown, and sometimes a Democratic Party political power in her own right, and a recurring figure in the SF Chronicle's  society columns for decades. Only two months ago Christopher Caen (son of late columnist Herb Caen) mentioned as a truism that "The mayor of Fillmore Street is Ruth Dewson."

The store's Web page,, is still up, showing a  huge variety of formal men's and women's hats.

The store's Fillmore Street shopping listing is also still posted. But a link from there goes to a misspelled "" Web site (no "s"). This is an apparently hacked page where it's suggested, jarringly, that "Mrs. Dewsonhats is a small holiday complex off Copenhagen..."

The New Fillmore article says Mrs. Dewson herself moved to assisted living two years ago. According to a society item in the Garchik column, she was at a place called Age Song in Hayes Valley as of a birthday party held for her in March 2011.

The store has a partly glowing but partly unfriendly page of Yelp reviews. One reviewer, writing last year, defended Mrs. Dewson against charges of rudeness by saying, "As intuitive as she is about a man's hat size goes also to her intuition on who the browsers are and who the buyers are. If you are a buyer she will treat you like gold." It sounds like new management had taken over during these last two years, with mixed results. The most recent commenter, on April 11, complained of having to wait past the posted time for the store to open. The New Fillmore article on the closing appeared the next day after that.


  1. Ruth, my aunt has passed to glory.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to post this. I was sad to see her passing mentioned in the Garchik column at . I never got to meet her but by all accounts she was one of the great San Francisco originals. Sympathy.