Two new theories on the naming of the Shirt Factory

The Standard Shirts Factory, pictured here in 1880, stood on Gough Street between Grove and Hayes, just two blocks from St. Ignatius Church and College. Photo courtesy of San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Library.

Since the publication of Spiritus Magis, two other theories have emerged as to the origin of the Shirt Factory name. Dave Clisham ’55 noted that his father, Edwin Clisham ’30 had told him that students would pronounce “St. Ignatius Church and College” so quickly that it sounded like “St. Ignatius shirts and collars.”

(Others in the Clisham family also attended SI, including Edwin J. “Jim” Clisham ’54, Thomas J. Clisham ’59 and Justine L. Clisham ’97.)

Also, while dining at the Boxing Room restaurant at the corner of Grove and Gough Streets, close to the Hayes and Van Ness campus that had been destroyed by the 1906 earthquake, Genesis editor Paul Totah read that the building had once been home to the Standard Shirts Factory (also known as the Standard Shirt Factory). Students attending SI in the late 1800s and early 1900s would have been familiar with the structure. A Dec. 12, 1901, fire that caused $2,000 in damage to the factory surely caught the eyes of students walking to school. The look of that building might have inspired Ignatians, five years later, to call their new industrial-looking home the Shirt Factory in homage to the one they had known so well.