Expansion Comes to the West For Metropolitan Life

Over a year the office was in Jefferson Square, but it was eventually moved to better quarters in Hooker and Lent in 1907. The rapid growth of the company and the loss of records due to the disaster quickly made it clear that a permanent, fireproof office building was necessary.

The company bought a beautiful hilltop property on the corner of Pine Street and Stockton Streets, which overlooks the bay and large portions of the city. The staff officially took possession of the first unit in the current structure on July 10, 1909. It was a modern Parthenon that is one of San Francisco’s architectural landmarks. The brothers LeBrun designed this fine building, which was also the Home Office in New York.

It was extremely classical in design, made of semi-glazed white terra cotta and adorned on both sides with six Ionic columns. The Pacific Coast Head Office building embodied the “character of a man” that is represented by his clothes. It was adorned on each side with six magnificent Ionic columns. Agents were already operating in almost every area of the territory at the time that the new building was opened in 1909.

There was life insurance in force totaling more than $58,000,000. Of this, $40,000,000 was for industrial purposes. Based on the total amount of life insurance in force, the Pacific Coast Unit, which was considered a separate entity, would have ranked 27th among the 239 American insurance companies.

For a total of over $103,000,000 in insurance, the coast office had 382,199 private insurance policies and 44,043 automobile insurance policies. It paid out death benefits in excess of $750,000, and distributed $72,025 to industrial policyholders. In 1913, the premium income at the Pacific Coast Head Office exceeded $3,250,000.

In 1914, five years after the construction of the first headoffice unit, two additional wings were added to the building. This more than doubled the floor area. But time proved that even this extra space was inadequate. The average insurance premium for an industrial policy was $66,000,000. Insurance per policy averaged $935 for an ordinary policy, and $143 for an industrial policy.

The head office had 212 employees, 67 men and 145 ladies. The field force was 909. The adjacent property, purchased in 1920, more than doubled the area. However, the territory’s first billion dollar of insurance was in force in 1929. It went from maternity insurance to cheap auto insurance. The construction of the third addition required additional property to be purchased. President Ecker dedicated it on May 29, 1930.

The addition, which was located at the Pine Street side of the building’s old building, was eight stories tall. Because of the steep street slope, its fifth floor was on the same level as what was called the main floor of that building. It took more than two decades to complete the building program. The territory that fell under the authority of the Pacific Coast Head Office accounted for more than a third the area of the United States and had a population of over 13,000,000.

In this vast territory agencies were kept in California, Washington and Oregon as well as Montana, Utah, Idaho, Idaho, and Colorado. The western agents were responsible for servicing policyholders with debits that were different in composition and geography than those from other areas of the country. The west was characterized by vast distances and sparse populations. Debits were also often large in size. Some states in the west had a lower population than small New England factories.

For example, Colorado had 11 people per square meter, California had 44, and Montana had four. In New York State, however, the population density was 281 per square mile and 674 per sq mile respectively. It was young, and pioneer spirit was still evident in its people and their traditions. They were descendants of Spanish conquistadores and American fur traders, pioneer land settlers and gold seekers, as well as other energetic recent immigrants.