Warren G. Harding, roundly considered one of the worst U.S. Presidents of all time, kicked the bucket exactly 100 years ago this week at SF’s Palace Hotel, which is still the Palace Hotel at Market and New Montgomery streets.  

When President Warren G. Harding died in San Francisco on August 2, 1923, which is 100 years ago Wednesday, he went out on top. Harding was an enormously popular president, still riding the wave of his landslide 60%-34% victory in the 1920 election, a numerical feat not matched by any Presidential election winner since.

But historians now pretty much unanimously rank Harding a one of the five worst U.S. Presidents ever. His reputation slid into the toilet after the wide-raging Teapot Dome bribery scandal came to light, when the U.S. learned that he’d fathered a secret love child with his secretary, and as we found out he was secretly drinking copious amounts of alcohol despite having voted for and supported Prohibition.

Harding died 100 years ago at the Palace Hotel, and KPIX notes in their 100th anniversary commemoration of Harding’s death that the suite where he croaked is still available “at prices beginning at $7,500.”

Harding was on a long West Coast tour in the summer of 1923, wherein he became the first U.S. President to visit Canada, and the first to visit Alaska (then a U.S. territory, but not yet granted full-fledged statehood). The point of the trip was to give barnstormer speeches and shore up his popular support, a plan that did not work well, as Harding was often visibly fatigued from the heat and a quietly mounting set of health issues. Stops were canceled, and the ill Harding was scuttled to San Francisco in hopes of rest and recovery.

According to FoundSF, then-SF mayor Sonny “Jim” Rolph ordered that street cars not clang their bells near the hotel in the interest of Harding’s health. In the moments before Harding died that August night, his wife Florence was reading him a Saturday Evening Post article about Warren G. Harding, a piece entitled “A Calm Review of a Calm Man.”

“That's good. Go on. Read some more," Harding told his wife.

As KPIX reports, those words were “the last ones he ever spoke. At this point, with a twist and a gasp, the President collapsed. Mrs. Harding ran from the room, calling for doctors, but there was nothing to be done. At 7:30 p.m., the 29th President of the U.S. was dead.”

Calvin Coolidge was sworn in as the next president on August 3, which would be 100 years ago today. For what it’s worth, the Harding Golf Course at Lake Merced would be named for him upon its opening two years later (the course is now called TPC Harding Park).

While historians generally believe Harding died of a heart attack, there are some fantastic historical disputes about Harding’s actual cause of death. The SF Standard explores the theory that Harding was drinking with his mistress at House of Shields (rumored to then be a speakeasy with underground tunnels). And FoundSF has a better theory about the multiple mistress-having Harding, that “his wife may have done him in.”

Related: History Lesson: SF Had an Anti-Mask League During the 1918 Flu Pandemic Who Rallied Against Face Masks [SFist]

Image: The White House