John R. Cahill (J.R.) was born in Oakland in 1884 and graduated in civil engineering from the University of California in 1905. Inspired to rebuild San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake, J.R. worked as an engineer in San Francisco before becoming a self-employed engineer and contractor in 1911. J.R. initially focused on mining work, but after joining with his brother Edward in 1915, the partnership moved into constructing commercial and large residential buildings. Cahill Brothers became incorporated in 1923 while San Francisco’s Huntington Hotel – built and partially owned by the Cahill brothers - rose from its foundations.

The Second Generation

In the late 1930s and at the end of World War II, the four sons of John R. Cahill -- John E. Cahill, Richard F. Cahill, Robert W. Cahill and J. Peter Cahill -- joined the firm in various capacities, eventually resulting in the formation of Cahill Construction Co. Between 1946 and 1983, Cahill Construction Co. built hundreds of projects in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond, with roughly half of these for repeat clients – a testament to the quality construction and strong relationships that were forged. J.R. continued to be active in the family business until his death in 1987 at age 102.

The Third Generation

In 1974, after working for Cahill Construction for several years, John (Jay) Cahill, Jr. (son of John E. Cahill), started Cahill Contractors, Inc. with his brother Jerry and their cousin Bill (son of Robert Cahill). Together they continued to focus on commercial, civic, hospitality, parking, and residential buildings, and were very much a part of the creation of San Francisco’s skyline. By the early 1980s, more than a quarter of the City’s high-rises were built by Cahill.


Today, Kathryn Cahill (daughter of Jay Cahill) leads the family business, making her the first female Chief Executive Officer Cahill Contractors has seen. With this transition, Cahill Contractors, Inc. is now operating as Cahill Contractors LLC, with the same exemplary team in place and a continued unwavering commitment to quality and integrity.


The history of Cahill is not just about the family of John R. Cahill. Several of our leading field employees are second and third generation Cahill workers. Many others have devoted almost their entire working lives to Cahill. As a company we are indebted to their service and loyalty in fostering Cahill’s reputation of quality, integrity, and trust.

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