15 March 2014

2014 Spring House Tour and Garden Reception

14 March 2014

Benicia Vintage Home & Garden Tour

Fish-Riddell House

Saturday, 10 May 2014
11 am to 4 pm
Tickets: $25 advance; $30 tour day

Two Benicia landmarks will be among the properties to open their doors to the public as part of the Benicia Historical Society’s annual home and garden tour.

The Fish-Riddell mansion at 245 West K Street is an impressive Queen Anne Victorian with a turret, mahogany staircase and mantels, stained-glass windows, and decorative plaster brackets. It is the most elaborate of the 19th-century houses in Benicia.

Frisbie-Walsh House

The Frisbie-Walsh house at 235 East L Street is a Gothic Revival house pre-fabricated on the East Coast and shipped around Cape Horn to Benicia. Built for John Frisbie, General Vallejo’s son-in-law, this c. 1850 house is a virtually identical twin to Lachryma Montis, General Vallejo’s house in Sonoma.

Other houses and gardens will also be included in the tour. For further information, see the Benicia Historical Society website or contact Vicki Cullen at (707) 315-6434 or Jerry Hayes at (707) 746-6689.

26 February 2014

From Bears to Beasleys: A Century of Public Art on the U.C. Berkeley Campus

Photos: Steven Finacom

Sunday, 9 March 2014
10:00 am to 1:00 pm
$25 per person
Attendance limited

To order, send a check made out to BAHA to:
Campus Art Walk
P.O. Box 1137
Berkeley, CA 94701

Include the names of people in your party and an e-mail address and/or telephone number. Attendees will be notified of the starting point.

You may also order online via PayPal (see instructions).

Stroll the U.C. Berkeley campus in the company of two experts for a unique look at the university’s outdoor sculpture and public art, both old and new.

Renowned Oakland-based sculptor Bruce Beasley and community historian (and U.C. staff member) Steven Finacom will co-lead this excursion through a sculpture collection that dates back to 1900 and includes the works of notable artists, from Alexander Calder to Douglas Tilden and Gutzon Borglum. Beasley and Finacom will share the intricate history of outdoor art on the campus, from a larger-than-life bust of Abraham Lincoln to a bevy of golden bears, allegorical New Deal mosaics, and a set of silvery rings “floating” in a reflecting pool.

Finacom will talk about the history of the art collection and the stories of the older individual pieces. Beasley, who is a Cal alumnus and currently has five monumental sculptures from his “Rondo” series on exhibit on the campus, will discuss his own works and comment on the other pieces of art and his days as a young artist studying at Cal.

There will be a mid-walk break for coffee and light refreshments.

The walk covers most of the campus and may include steep paths and stairs, although alternative routes can be identified for the mobility impaired.

23 February 2014

Berkeley History Chats

The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association and the Berkeley Historical Society present a new series of informal lectures, featuring local experts, each talking about a topic of local historic and/or cultural interest.

Berkeley History Center
Veterans Memorial Building
1931 Center Street, Berkeley

Fortnightly on Thursdays
13 March–24 April 2014
7:00–8:30 pm

Admission: $10 per talk by reservation. Space is limited! Order in advance to assure your seat.

You may also order online via PayPal (see instructions).

Photo: Daniella Thompson
13 March 2014
7:00 pm

Daniella Thompson: The Berkeley Unitarians and Architectural Innovation

In the late 19th century, several religious denominations founded vigorous congregations in the neighborhoods around the UC Berkeley campus. Early Berkeley Unitarians, whose membership included the Maybecks, the Keelers, and fellow founders of the Hillside Club, held a progressive view of architecture. Their first church building at Bancroft Way and Dana Street, designed by A.C. Schweinfurth and completed in 1898, incorporates startling architectural features and has been characterized as a “powerhouse” (it is now the Dance Facility on the UC Berkeley campus).

Daniella Thompson will trace the history of the Unitarian community in Berkeley, introduce its cast of leading characters and the significant houses they built, and discuss the links between culture and nature embodied in its church buildings.

Photo: Tom Dalzell
27 March 2014
7:00 pm

Sold Out!

Tom Dalzell: Quirky Berkeley

Many Berkeley front yards and gardens contain unusual, eccentric, and curiously alluring displays of art, landscape, and artifacts. Walk down a Berkeley residential street, and you never know what you’ll see from the sidewalk: A giant chicken? A miniature landscape of plastic toys? A panda in a speedboat? An elaborate spiritual shrine? “Art cars” at home? All those, and more, are being catalogued by urban explorer Tom Dalzell, who walks through Berkeley, documenting our “oddball, whimsical, eccentric, and the near-rhyme quirky material culture.”

Tom Dalzell’s illustrated talk will cover this evolving work, looking at Berkeley and environs from out-of-the-way corners of the hills to hot dog stands, the now-vanished driftwood sculpture of the Emeryville mudflats, and the history and stories he’s discovering behind the art.

Thursday, 10 April 2014
7:00 pm

Karin Sveen: The Immigrant and the University: Peder Sather and Gold Rush California

When Norwegian poet and writer Karin Sveen first arrived at the Berkeley campus as a visiting scholar, she saw the dedicatory inscription to Peder Sather on Sather Gate. “Who was this man with a Norwegian last name, and why was he so prominently honored in Berkeley?,” she wondered. Her research over several years has made her the expert on a remarkable man who left his Norwegian family farm in the 1830s to travel to the New World, where he started as a clerk and became a successful businessman, banker, and trustee of the College of California. Sather was a fervent promoter of education on both East and West coasts, and his fortune later paid for two of Berkeley’s most iconic structures, Sather Tower and Sather Gate, as well as for enduring academic programs.

Karin Sveen’s biography of Sather, The Immigrant and the University: Peder Sather and Gold Rush California, has just been revised and published in English by UC Press. It will be the focus of her talk about Sather’s life. Copies will be available for purchase and signing.

Courtesy of Stephen Barton
24 April 2014
7:00 pm

Stephen Barton: Stitt Wilson, Berkeley's First and Only Socialist Party Mayor

In 1911, in the midst of an era of local, state, and national progressive reform, Berkeley voters elected Berkeley”s first (and, to date, only) Socialist Party mayor. Canadian born Jackson Stitt Wilson was an energetic California immigrant via Chicago, a Methodist minister who preached a Gospel of social justice and service to the poor, and a stalwart evangelist for a society based on cooperation rather than competition. As mayor for two years, he championed public utilities, labor, women’s rights and civic improvements, and opposed alcohol, tobacco, and mandatory vaccination. Family tragedy ended his elected service after one term, but he continued to be a popular speaker and later ran unsuccessfully for mayor and Congress before his 1942 death at his Berkeley home. Wilson’s children had deep connections to the California theater and film scene.

Stephen Barton, Ph.D. has extensively researched Wilson, his life, and his political philosophy and era. His talk will illuminate this largely forgotten figure from Berkeley’s activist past, including both his political activism and family life.

08 February 2014

Letter to the Berkeley City Council

Read BAHA’s letter to the Berkeley City Council regarding the Council’s contemplated move out of Old City Hall.

31 January 2014

Outings on Fridays

Our popular series of guided tours, organized by Sally Sachs, returns this spring. A post-tour group lunch at a restaurant close to the tour venue is optional and not included in the tour price. Lunch reservation must be made at least 5 days prior to each tour.

Tickets: $15 per tour or $40 for the series

  Friday, 7 March 2014
11:00 am

The Gardens at Lake Merritt

A hidden jewel in the city of Oakland, The Gardens at Lake Merritt is a seven-acre collection of themed gardens, including Japanese, Mediterranean, Bonsai, Palm, Lavender, Native Bee, Edible, Bay-Friendly, and other garden types.

  Friday, 4 April 2014
11:00 am

Dockside tour of USS Potomac

The “Floating White House” was originally commissioned the USCG Cutter Electra in 1934. In 1936 it was renamed the USS Potomac and served as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Presidential Yacht until his death in 1945. We will visit the restored 165-foot-long vessel, now a National Historic Landmark.

  Friday, 6 June 2014
11:00 am

Cohen-Bray House

Built in 1882–1884, the Cohen-Bray House typifes the Stick style of architecture and still contains many original furnishings in the Aesthetic style of Charles Eastlake. The original interior decoration is a quintessential example of the Anglo-Japanese design craze of the 1880s. The house is listed in the National Register of Historic Places in addition to being a designated City of Oakland Landmark.

To order tickets, print and fill out the ticket order form and mail it with a check made out to BAHA and a stamped, self-addressed envelope to:
Outings on Fridays
P.O. Box 1137
Berkeley, CA 94701

You can also pay for tickets by credit card via PayPal (see instructions).

17 January 2014

University Art Museum listed in the National Register

On 8 January 2014, the University Art Museum (BAM) was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. BAHA sponsored the nomination, which was written by John English.

The building is considered a masterwork of modernist design and has been called a “visual masterpiece.” In its scuptural forms, it outstandingly exemplifies the Brutalist style of its era. Especially impressive is the unique complex formed by the soaring atrium and spirals of multiple galleries and ramps. Also visually powerful is the building’s exterior, which strongly reflects the interior layout and presents staggered Cubist masses that rise and shift direction compellingly. BAM is a prime example of work by Mario J. Ciampi (1907–2006), an important Bay Area architect and urban designer with a distinctive modernist flair.

Art historican Sidra Stich notes that “At one time the museum was the center of contemporary art activity in the Bay Area. It produced internationally significant exhibitions, had its finger on the pulse of avant-garde activity, and was an energizing hub for people and ideas [...] aspects of the [museum’s] program still focus on the current era, offering insights into contemporary ideas and modes of expression.”

The museum has a continuing commitment to presenting new and experimental work. Also exceptional is the museum’s world-class Pacific Film Archive.