03 April 2022

Our 2022 Spring Garden Tour

Sunday, 15 May 2022
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm

Featuring eleven gardens
on the banks of Harwood Creek

Tour handout with map provided

Tickets available on Eventbrite
General $30; BAHA members $25

See the tour page for information.

28 February 2022

Julia Morgan: An Intimate Biography of a Trailblazing Architect

A webinar with author Victoria Kastner

Wednesday, 23 March 2022
7:00 pm on Zoom
Tickets $15 on Eventbrite

Architectural historian and East Bay native Victoria Kastner will speak about her new book, Julia Morgan: An Intimate Biography of the Trailblazing Architect (Chronicle Books, 2022), which provides the first in-depth look at Morgan’s fascinating private life as well as her remarkable professional career.

Complete information and tickets are available on Eventbrite.

10 February 2022

The historic Montgomery-Spear House for sale at $1

Real-estate management firm SteelWave LLC, which is developing a property in West Berkeley, is offering an Italianate house standing at 2212 Fifth Street for sale at $1.

Known as the Montgomery-Spear House, the structure was the home of politician Charles Henry Spear (1862–1928), who began as Berkeley’s town clerk and was subsequently elected Alameda county recorder and appointed president of the State Board of Harbor Commissioners.

The seller will share the cost of moving the structure to the buyer’s site, which must be in Berkeley. Interested parties must demonstrate the ability to accept the building on the new site by May 2022.

Information on the offer is available here.

31 January 2022

When Your City Becomes the Campus

A webinar with Professor Davarian L. Baldwin

Thursday, 17 February 2022
6:00 pm on Zoom
Tickets $15
Book $22
(tax included)
Ticket + Book $37
See instructions for using PayPal
or send a check with your e-mail address to:
BAHA, P.O. Box 1137, Berkeley, CA 94701

Ever-higher property taxes. Loss of affordable housing. Destruction of historic fabric.

What do they have in common?

They’re all associated with the presence of a large university in your town.

The “gown swallows town” phenomenon is not unique to Berkeley. As universities are transforming themselves into billion-dollar hedge funds with schools attached, multiple cities nationwide face trials similar to ours.

In his book In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities are Plundering Our Cities (Bold Type Books, 2021), Davarian L. Baldwin takes the reader to municipalities across the land, revealing the increasingly parasitic relationship between universities and our cities. Through eye-opening conversations with city leaders, low-wage workers tending to students’ needs, and local activists fighting encroachment, Professor Baldwin makes clear who benefits from unchecked university power, and who is made vulnerable.

Professor Baldwin’s talk will present case studies from various American cities and offer possible solutions, including a recent resolution between a state and a major university.

A leading urbanist, historian, and cultural critic, Davarian L. Baldwin is Paul E. Raether Distinguished Professor of American Studies and founding director of the Smart Cities Lab at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. His work largely examines the landscape of global cities through the lens of the African Diasporic experience. Baldwin’s related interests include universities and urban development, the racial foundations of academic thought, intellectual and mass culture, Black radical thought and transnational social movements, the politics of heritage tourism, and 20th- and 21st Century art, architecture, and urban design.

A link to the Zoom webinar will be e-mailed to ticket buyers before the event. Five books will be raffled.

27 January 2022

Storybook Style lecture

Thursday, 10 February 2022
7:00 pm
Presenter: Daniella Thompson
Free online event
Register here

Berkeley is a treasure trove of buildings that look as if they’ve stepped out of a Mother Goose fairy tale. In the course of this illustrated talk, we’ll pay a visit to and marvel at the fanciful work of specialists in the whimsical genre that manifested itself during the 1920s.

Architects and builders who left their mark on Berkeley’s “Hansel & Gretel” architecture include William Raymond Yelland, Jack Thornburg, Francis Harvey Slocombe, Carr Jones, Sidney & Noble Newsom, W.W. Dixon, and the Fox Brothers.

Editor of the BAHA website and author of the article series East Bay: Then and Now, Daniella Thompson will showcase both well-known and obscure examples of Storybook Style in the East Bay.

This lecture is presented under the aegis of Councilmember Sophie Hahn.

01 December 2021

John Sutton English (1936–2021)

Photo: Anthony Bruce, Aug. 2014

BAHA is mourning the passing, on 30 November 2021, of our old friend and stalwart supporter John English. A retired Oakland city planner, John was the ultimate authority on land-use matters in Berkeley.

Born in Washington, DC and raised in Sacramento, John lived in Berkeley since his student days in the late 1950s. Although he never worked for the City of Berkeley, his opinion was sought by Planning staff, city commissioners, building professionals, and preservationists alike.

John was an invaluable resource for preservation. He wrote numerous landmark applications and National Register nominations, including those for California Memorial Stadium; Mario Ciampi’s University Art Museum on Durant Ave-Bancroft Way; the Claremont Hotel; and Berkeley Iceland.

He was a constant presence in Landmarks Preservation Commission and Zoning Adjustment Board meetings, as well as at BAHA, where his deep knowledge, dedication, and attention to detail were relied upon again and again.

John was a quiet, unassuming man who gave his all to the causes he embraced. The fight for preservation will not be the same without him.

29 October 2021

SHRC votes to list People’s Park in the National Register

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2020

The California State Historical Resources Commission voted unanimously today to list People’s Park in the National Register of Historic Places at the National Significance level.

23 July 2021

We’re back with Jacomena Maybeck! First live webcast of the year!

Jacomena Maybeck by Pam Valois

Blooming in Winter: The Story of a Remarkable Twentieth-Century Woman

Author Pam Valois discusses her new biography of Jacomena Maybeck.

Thursday, 26 August 2021
Zoom Webcast at 7:00 pm

Owing to the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant, this event will now take place online.

Tickets: $15 ~ Signed Book: $15
Box office at Eventbrite

When Pam Valois met her in the 1970s, Jacomena Maybeck was a model of zestful, hands-on living, still tarring roofs and splitting logs at age seventy-seven, and Pam was a young working mother trying to carve out time for creative projects. Pam and her husband rented Jackie’s cottage and eventually, with her blessing, married on the cottage lawn. Their friendship would blossom during Jackie’s winter years.

Decades later, after Pam and her husband bought Jackie’s home on Maybeck Twin Drive, Pam found she wanted to know more about her early years: What had shaped and supported this venerable and vibrant woman whom she and her family loved? Blooming in Winter tells this tale.

Please join us for an interesting conversation between the author and Berkeley historian Steven Finacom, direct from Jacomena’s former home, designed by her father-in-law. Signed books are also available for sale through the BAHA office.

25 April 2021

Remembering Dmitri Belser

We were saddened to learn of the death on 22 April 2021 of Dmitri Belser, who served on the BAHA board of directors in 2013–2015.

Dmitri and his partner, Tom White, received their first BAHA Preservation Award in 2008 for the interior and exterior restoration of their 1907 Colonial Revival cottage in South Berkeley. That was our introduction to their preference for intense, jewel-like paint colors.

In 2010, Dmitri and Tom rescued the landmark Cheney Cottage (Carl Ericsson, builder 1902) from demolition when they acquired it from the University of California for $17 and had it moved in two pieces—first to University Village in Albany, where it sat for a year while they navigated Berkeley’s inscrutable permit process, then to its final site on 62nd Street, where they restored it, again with their customary exuberant palette. This effort earned them a second BAHA Preservation Award in 2013.

When the developers of Acheson Commons offered two historic brown-shingle buildings on the 1900 block of Walnut Street for $1 each, Dmitri and Tom answered the call. In 2017, they successfully moved the smaller of the two, a duplex, to 2214 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, where restoration was undertaken. The second brown-shingle, a sixplex, proved too large to move and had to be abandoned.

During his tenure as a BAHA board member, Dmitri took charge of the Kenney Cottage, a prefabricated panel house, built in 1887, for which BAHA had been trying unsuccessfully to find a permanent site and new ownership. Dmitri and Tom cared for the cottage on its temporary City-owned lot while continuing the search for a suitable site. Pressured by the City to move the cottage, BAHA transferred the title to Dmitri and Tom, who dismantled the cottage and put it in storage in 2018. With Dmitri’s death, the future of the cottage remains uncertain.

We send our heartfelt condolences to Tom and to the Belser family.

Photo courtesy of Sabastian Belser

09 December 2020

The intriguing H.J. Goetzman

1125 Bancroft Way (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2020)

How best to describe Henry J. Goetzman? Talented self-taught architect? Pioneering Yukon photographer? Brazen crook?

He was all the above, and perhaps more. In 1891 and 1892, this enigmatic man designed and built four of Berkeley’s earliest shingled houses, and then disappeared from our midst to take on new challenges.

The article The intriguing H.J. Goetzman built four of Berkeley’s earliest shingled houses follows the fascinating trajectory of a unique personality and a few of the houses he left us.

29 June 2020

Mourning former BAHA President Sally Sachs

Sally Katorski Sachs, 1935–2020 (photo: Daniella Thompson)

BAHA is mourning the death of its former president and longtime board member Sally Sachs.

BAHA treasurer Stephanie Manning posted this statement:

“Sally, 84, was a good friend to all of us, a former BAHA President and board member for over 35 years. She was a reliable volunteer at all our events and spoke at many city commission and council hearings on behalf of preservation. She also organized the Friday Outings series for many years. And she always participated, one did not have to coax Sally. She also contributed financially to BAHA. And in keeping with most of our board members over the years, she was very intelligent. Her departure is a real loss, not only to BAHA but to preservation in Berkeley.”

In the photo above, Sally is seen as a volunteer in our Panoramic Hill House Tour, 2005.

11 May 2020

Preserving the University Garage

Photo: Fran Cappelletti, 2020

As part of its current development plans, the University of California intends to tear down the landmark University Garage (Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr., architect, 1930). BAHA archivist Fran Cappelletti wrote an illustrated article titled Preserving the University Garage, describing the history of this unique building, which was threatened more than once in the past.

16 March 2020

BAHA’s 2020 House Tour is postponed.

Owing to the coronavirus pandemic, our 45th annual Spring House Tour, originally scheduled for Sunday, 26 April 2020, has been postponed to a later, as yet undetermined date.

We appreciate the understanding and ongoing support of those who have offered their homes for the tour, our tour volunteers, and our loyal membership.

30 January 2020

Elements of Japanese Architecture and Design

Artistic License :: A Guild of Artisans presents its annual design lecture:

Elements of Japanese Architecture and Design

An illustrated talk by Debey Zito

Wednesday, 4 March 2020
7:30–9:00 pm
The Hillside Club
2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley

$15 general (advance tickets); $10 HSC members (at the door)

Debey Zito is a highly regarded furniture maker and interior-design consultant based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

With lush imagery from a recent trip to Japan, Debey will focus on elements of traditional Japanese architecture. She will touch on how these details have influenced a few of our most brilliant designers in Art Nouveau, Prairie, and Arts & Crafts. She will also refer to Japan’s influence in the Mid-Century Modern movement.

Debey Zito has been designing and building furniture for over four decades. Many of the pieces include carvings by her partner, Terry Schmitt. Increasingly, interior design work has become a larger creative focus.

Debey has lectured across the country on Furniture Design, Arts & Crafts Furniture, and Japanese Design.

09 January 2020

A mystery building reveals its history

2028 Ninth Street (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2019)

The Niehaus-Rosano Building is a reminder of Ocean View’s melting-pot past.

The singular Stick-style Victorian building standing on the corner of Ninth and Addison streets is instantly recognizable to many Berkeleyans by the Drink NEHI sign painted on its northern wall. This sign evokes the days when a succession of grocery stores on the ground floor supplied this West Berkeley neighborhood with its comestibles.

Yet the building, unusually ornate on the upper floor and decidedly plain below, poses many questions that had remained unanswered for decades. Long believed to have been constructed in 1890, the building was revealed through recent extensive research to have had a far more convoluted (and more absorbing) history.

A newly published article by Daniella Thompson tells the story.

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2019

01 November 2019

Court of Appeal affirms landmark designation of historic Northside building

Bennington Apartments (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2016)

On 4 February 2016, the Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Bennington Apartments, 2508 Ridge Road, a City of Berkeley Landmark on the basis of a landmark application submitted by Daniella Thompson.

The Bennington Apartments were created in 1915 from the joining of two adjacent 19th-century single-family homes that had originally stood at 1801 and 1805 Euclid Avenue and were moved to the rear of their lots, reoriented, and placed end-to-end. The resulting building is the only extant relic of 19th-century Euclid Avenue.

Constructed circa 1892, the two houses were among the earliest built in the newly subdivided (1889) Daley’s Scenic Park tract. Joined, these houses represent the oldest surviving Shingle Style building on the Northside and—alongside the Anna Head School’s Channing Hall and Maybeck House No. 1—one of the three oldest known original brown-shingle buildings in Berkeley.

The building’s owner, Rue-Ell Enterprises, appealed the landmark designation to the City Council. Following a public hearing, the Council voted 8-1 to uphold the landmark designation. Not content with the Council’s decision, Rue-Ell sued the City of Berkeley in 2017. The Superior Court judge sided with the City. Rue-Ell then contested the Superior Court judge’s decision in the Court of Appeal.

On Thursday, 31 October 2019, the Court of Appeal’s three-judge panel rendered a seven-page decision in favor of the City. Summing up their analysis, the judges wrote:

“[…] we cannot say, on the record presented, that the LPC was wrong to find the necessary level of architectural significance met for landmark status under the Ordinance. When the cited associational history is taken into account as well, the basis for the LPC’s landmark designation seems doubly sound. To put the matter plainly, the record shows that the Bennington is really old and really unique for its combination of design features and its associations with people who had significant roles in the early civic life of Berkeley. Considering the record as a whole, that is enough to uphold LPC’s designation as a proper exercise of discretion.”

06 September 2019

Second Annual Susan Dinkelspiel Cerny Memorial Lecture

Sutter’s Fort from Gleason’s Pictorial Drawing Room Companion

Wednesday, 9 October 2019
7:30 pm
Ballroom, Berkeley City Club
2315 Durant Avenue, Berkeley

Free admission; reservation required

Speaker: Richard Longstreth, Professor of American Civilization, the George Washington University

Topic: “Ruin and Reconstruction” in the Making of Historic Sites

Richard Longstreth, well known to Bay Area architecture fans through his authoritative book On the Edge of the World: Four Architects in San Francisco at the Turn of the Century, has enjoyed a long and storied career as an expert in American architecture and historic preservation.

In his Cerny lecture, Professor Longstreth will focus on the processes and pitfalls of the interpretation and reconstruction of historic sites that have fallen into disrepair or ruin. In California, this work began with Sutter’s Fort in Sacramento, and it extends through the United States to places such as Fort Ticonderoga in New York State, which Professor Longstreth has studied extensively. He will also offer perspectives on the preservation struggles and choices many communities face as development confronts historic resources and local character.

Professor Longstreth’s ties to Berkeley go back to his architectural history studies at the Universty of California, where he received his PhD in 1977. He still remembers his residence in a historic shingled building on Dwight Way. We welcome him back for what promises to be a thought-provoking and stimulating talk.

02 September 2019

M.B. Curtis: An Immigrant, Actor and Philanthropist in Berkeley

Peralta Park Hotel

BAHA & The Hillside Club Present:

M.B. Curtis: An Immigrant, Actor and Philanthropist in Berkeley

A lecture by Richard Schwartz

Monday, 4 November 2019
7:30 pm
The Hillside Club
2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley

$10 donation requested. Get advance tickets here.

Historian Richard Schwartz will tell the fascinating story of the numerous philanthropic and significant deeds of immigrant Maurice B. Curtis, a once famed but now largely forgotten actor, for the city of Berkeley, and that still have an effect on us today. As Curtis catapulted to fame and fortune, he was thrilled to help the town he loved and its people thrive.

Schwartz will also discuss many never-before-shared events at Curtis’s Berkeley-based Peralta Park Hotel, the tallest hotel in the Bay Area at the time (now the site of the Saint Mary’s College High School). This presentation will include Berkeley-specific stories not included in Schwartz’s book, The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty: The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M.B. Curtis, which was recently released in paperback.

02 July 2019

Old Houses, Old Gardens, Old Roses: How to Tend Living History

Photo: Steven Finacom

Sunday, 4 August 2019
11:00 am–12:30 pm or 1:30 pm–3:00 pm
McCreary-Greer House
2318 Durant Avenue, Berkeley

Admission $25 per session (sessions are identical)
Purchase tickets online (limit: 20 persons per session)
$15 lunch option also available*

Join us for a special summer exploration of rose care, culture, and history.

BAHA’s garden—perhaps the last estate garden remaining in Berkeley’s original 1860s College Homestead Tract—surrounds the historic McCreary-Greer House and includes several dozen roses, from small tea rose shrubs to giant climbers Most had a spectacular bloom this spring, and we hope to see some coming into re-bloom by late summer.

This special event will bring renowned rose expert Gregg Lowery to BAHA to give two informal talks in our garden on the care, culture, and history of roses. He’ll use BAHA’s plantings to illustrate growth habits, pruning, and cultivation tips.

Lowery was the co-founder of Vintage Gardens Nursery in Sebastapol and is currently the curator of the extensive collection of old roses managed by the Friends of Vintage Roses. He has spent a lifetime rescuing, growing, and researching roses, particularly those brought to the western United States in the early days of American-era settlement. Lowery is a sought-after speaker for conferences and events around the world, talking about old roses, their history, and the gardens they inhabit.

The morning talk will be repeated in the afternoon. You may buy separate tickets for both sessions, if you wish, but they will have similar focus and facts. There will be opportunity for questions and answers.

* We will provide an optional lunch in the garden between the two talks. You may stay for the lunch ($15 additional charge) or attend only the talk. We will send details about the lunch to attendees prior to the event.

29 June 2019

BAHA Summer 2019 Walking Tours

These four eclectic walking tours will explore the history and architecture of our community from the U.C. campus to a district of literary landmarks, and from People’s Park to the Hayward Fault. Our knowledgable guides include U.C. students and librarians, authors, and community historians.

Admission $15 per tour
Purchase tickets online (attendance limited to 25 persons per tour). Ticket holders will be notified of the starting place[s].

The late 19th-century campus of the Deaf and Blind Schools featured an array of brick buildings and a clock tower. (Edward H. Mitchell postcard)

Berkeley’s First Public Institution and Its Neighborhood: The Deaf School and the Clark Kerr Campus

Sunday, 14 July 2019
1:00 pm–3:00 pm
Led by Steven Finacom

The first State of California institution to come to Berkeley was not the University of California but the California State Institution for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind—later the California Schools for the Deaf and Blind. In 1866, the Schools acquired a new, expansive, campus site at the undeveloped base of the Berkeley Hills. They remained in Berkeley for well over a century, but the land is now the University of California’s Clark Kerr campus. We’ll walk through the handsome and extensive grounds, view the architectural reminders, and hear the stories of six eras of development and use, from the 1870s onwards. We’ll also cross the Hayward Fault and see telltale evidence of it, and look “next door” to the Kerr Campus at what is one of Berkeley’s very oldest surviving residential buildings, an 1860s country house.

This walk is not wheelchair accessible, and will include stairs, steep sidewalks, and some dirt pathways.

Mystery and science fiction notable Anthony Boucher in his study at home on Dana Street, where he did most of his writing and editing. (California Monthly, 1947)

A Walk Through Literary South Berkeley, Featuring Anthony Boucher

Sunday, 21 July 2019
1:00 pm–3:00 pm
Led by Randal Brandt

Berkeley has an astonishing number of literary associations, and this walk will explore some of the most intriguing. We’ll wend our way through the pleasant south-of-campus Le Conte neighborhood and nearby, seeing interesting buildings and sites connected to important writers and their works, hearing the stories behind them, and sharing literary excerpts and anecdotes.

The walk will feature places associated with William Anthony Parker White (aka Anthony Boucher), the highly influential mid-century mystery and science fiction writer and editor, who was a Cal alumnus. He made his home in this neighborhood from 1942 onward, and set several of his stories in Berkeley. We’ll also see places associated with Boucher’s fellow mystery writer Mary Collins, the California Writer’s Club, pioneering film critic Pauline Kael, and others.

Our guide is a U.C. Berkeley librarian who curates the Bancroft Library’s California Detective Fiction Collection, which includes over 2,000 mystery, crime, and detective novels with Bay Area connections.

This walk is on mostly level sidewalks and city streets.

John Galen Howard shaped the early-20th-century Berkeley campus with numerous buildings, starting with the Hearst Memorial Mining Building. (Associated Students’ Store postcard)

New Views of the U.C. Berkeley Campus

Sunday, 28 July 2019
1:00 pm–3:00 pm
Led by Conrad Brenneman & Cole Phelps

This past Spring, Professor Margaretta M. Lovell focused her History of Art 190G class on intensive study of the architecture, buildings, and history of the U.C. Berkeley campus. Two of her students will lead for BAHA an eclectic walking tour across the eastern portion of the campus, highlighting stories and history of a variety of buildings, and the character of the campus as a built environment representing the diverse work of John Galen Howard, the university’s first Supervising Architect, and others. From the Hearst Memorial Gymnasium to Hearst Avenue, explore and hear insights about the nearly 150-year-old campus through the eyes of some of its newest users.

This walk will cross the campus primarily on paved pathways and sidewalks, but may include some stairs.

2550, 2552 & 2554 Haste Street, three of the houses that once stood on Assessor’s Block 1875, now People’s Park. (Daily Cal, 15 February 1968)

Around People’s Park

Sunday, 11 August 2019
1:00 pm–3:00 pm
Led by Steven Finacom & Tom Dalzell

Before it became one of the flash points of the 1960s, the block where People’s Park is located was a neighborhood of old Berkeley homes, many of them architecturally significant. In 1968, the University of California abruptly demolished about two dozen of those buildings. Community activists created People’s Park on the vacant ground the next year, half a century ago. Our walk will observe the park itself and talk about its history, legacy, and possible futures. We’ll also walk along the surrounding blocks, which are literally lined with landmarks, including several of Berkeley’s most architecturally and historically important buildings, and where we’ll see how the park acts as a commons, with architectural history as a backdrop.

Co-led by BAHA President Steven Finacom and Tom Dalzell, well known “Quirky Berkeley” raconteur and author of the newly published The Battle of People’s Park (Heyday Press).

This walk will be on largely level sidewalks, but may include some short excursions onto lawn areas.

The organization and presentation of each walking tour is the creative property of the volunteer tour leader[s], unless otherwise indicated. Attendees agree not to record the tour presentation or take photographs of the tour leader for use on social media or elsewhere without explicit permission of the tour leader.