27 August 2004

House of Harris

Photo courtesy of the Berkeley Historical Society

On Sunday the 29th we are holding the much anticipated Afternoon of Art Deco glamour at the fabulous, rarely seen Joseph W. “Call Me Joe” Harris House.

Many Berkeley residents have never heard of “Call Me Joe,” the men’s clothing store that Harris opened in 1923 and kept expanding for the next two decades.

In 1938, Harris built a new Call Me Joe store in Moderne style on the Berkeley Square island at Shattuck Avenue and Center Street. The following year, he added a second floor and changed the store’s name to House of Harris. For several years, the old name was kept underneath the new one on the fa├žade’s neon sign, but by the time the photo above was taken (sometime in the 1940s), “Call Me Joe” had been eliminated altogether, to be replaced by a sign advertising Harris supplier Kuppenheimer, whose slogan was “Good Clothes.” Call Me Joe had gone upscale.

Also from the ’40s was the taller annex in the rear of the store. Together, they made the establishment look somewhat like a larger version of the Harris residence, which modern architect Donald Olsen calls “Steamboat ’round the Bend.”

Olsen knew John B. Anthony, the architect of the Harris house and store, quite well. During the war they both worked at the Kaiser Shipyards. Olsen will attend the Harris House reception/open house, and we’re all eager to hear him reminisce about “Tony.”

The event will take place between three and six on Sunday afternoon. Admission is $15, payable at the door.


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