San Francisco Seminary, San Anselmo
Can you buy your way into heaven? The San Francisco Theological Seminary was built in 1895 with a half-million dollar bequest from a very unlikely donor, Alexander Montgomery a failed 49er, a drunk and, as described by his family, a rapacious fornicator and money-lender. Montgomery, an Irish-born son of a tenant farmer arrived in San Francisco in 1849, ready to make his fortune panning for gold. But after developing scurvy while mining he moved on various other careers before find his calling in the money-lending business. By lending at high rates to wheat farmers in Colusa and Tehama counties, Montgomery found himself a millionaire in his 30s.

Montgomery then met Elizabeth Green age 17 and fathered two by her before being forced, drunken, into a literal shotgun wedding by her family. On his death-bed in 1893 Montgomery asked that the seminary be built in San Anselmo and that his body be placed in a vault beneath it. After years of delay the seminary was finally built by his wife's relatives. But the dour buildings of the Presbyterian seminary that they built exhibit no Christian elements or symbols. Even the bell tower is crowned with an orb rather than a cross. Today the still active seminary serves as the most famous landmark of San Anselmo.
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