Ritch Street Health Club
by Jeff Auer (c) 2011
Ritch Street Health Club was a popluar 1960s and 1970s bathhouse located at 330 Ritch Street in the SOMA neighborhood of San Francisco. It opened in the fall of 1965 by gay community leader Rick Stokes, and his business partner/lover who had been together since 1960, David Clayton (d. 1995). Stokes ended up going to law school a year after he opened the baths to become a lawyer to gain more access to power as a gay businessman. As part of his growing involvment in political power by 1971 he had been named by the Family Services Agency of San Francisco as a member of the board of directors. One of the first out homosexuals appointed to a city public position.
It was mentioned in Tales of the City. By 1977 Stokes and his original investors had sold it and it had become a part of the national Club Baths Chain. The club was hit with an arson fire in 1977 as part of a rash of bathhouse fires that swept San Francisco in 1977 - 1978. It closed down during the San Francisco bathhouse crisis in 1984.