Kenneth Harvey Cardwell, 1920–2010
Ken & Mary Cardwell at the Berkeley History Center (photo: Stephen Rosen, 1999)
Kenneth Harvey Cardwell, Bay Area architect and Professor Emeritus of Architecture at U.C. Berkeley, died on 11 January 2010 in Oakland at age 89. Born in Los Angeles in 1920, his ancestors on the paternal side were owners of Spanish-Mexican land grants in Southern California. He served with distinction during WWII as 2nd Lt. in the 35th Fighter Squadron and later chronicled his wartime efforts in a book called How Father Won the War.
A long-time Berkeley resident, Cardwell was a U.C. Berkeley alumnus (1947), majoring in architecture. He first worked in private-practice firms and then became principal architect in the firm Kolbeck, Cardwell and Christopherson. In 1949, he began his teaching career at U.C., where he created courses in architectural history and historic preservation. An authority on renowned architect Bernard Maybeck, whom he first befriended as a student at U.C., Cardwell wrote the acclaimed Bernard Maybeck: Artisan, Architect, Artist (1977, 1996). He was elected a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects for his services to the organization and to the profession.
Among his activities in various Berkeley civic organizations, he was elected President of the Berkeley Historical Society (19971999) and later became Chief Archivist, remaining in that position until his retirement in 2009. During his time as Archivist, he organized and computerized the Historical Society archives. Some other activities Cardwell accomplished for the Historical Society included writing the column 75 Years Ago, (now A Look Back) for several years for the Berkeley Voice; curating many exhibits, such as Berkeley Literary Scene and One Hundred Years of Artists in Berkeley; and leading a variety of walking tours. He leaves behind many friends and associates in that organization. A comprehensive oral history focusing on the life of Kenneth Harvey Cardwell is in progress at the Berkeley Historical Society.
A memorial service was conducted at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church in North Berkeley on Saturday, 16 January, followed by a reception at the Cardwell family home in Berkeley. Cardwell is survived by his wife Mary Elinor (Sullivan) Cardwell, five children, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Ken was absolutely dedicated to the Berkeley Historical Society and to organizing the archives. He worked with determination for many, many years. He ran a tight ship at the beginning, but gradually other volunteers helped him with the responsibilities of running the Society. Ken lobbied to keep BHS a neutral organization that was dedicated to collecting, preserving, researching, and making available the history of Berkeley. He felt that that way, both sister organizations could best serve the community through a combination of BAHAs advocacy and BHSs neutrality. He curated outstanding exhibits on Berkeley artists, writers, architects, the fire department, and past and present landmarks. He wrote the BHS Newsletter, led architectural and historical walking tours, and gave lectures on Berkeley architects. BHS volunteers also looked forward to Ken and Mary Cardwells gatherings in their Berkeley Maybeck home and in Inverness. It is clear that Ken Cardwell has made an invaluable contribution to Berkeley history and architecture.