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 at the door.

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.

06 May 2019

BAHA Annual Membership Meeting

Thursday, 30 May 2019
The Hillside Club
2286 Cedar Street
Berkeley, CA 94709

6:00 Social Hour — no-host wine bar
7:00 Buffet Dinner ($45/$50 by reservation)*
7:30 Business Meeting and Election of Officers & Directors
Free coffee & dessert for all
8:00 Illustrated Lecture

Register on Eventbrite.

Dr. Alexandra M. Nickliss:
Phoebe Apperson Hearst: A Life of Power and Politics

Dr. Nickliss is the author of a recent biography of Phoebe Apperson Hearst. Her illustrated talk will focus on Mrs. Hearst’s contributions to the U.C. campus, including the Hearst Architectural Plan, and her activities as an advocate for women in the early 20th century. Hearst died a century ago, this spring, but her influences are still felt.

Books will be available for sale and signing after the talk.


* Dinner will be provided by Jasmine Catering.
Members $45 per person; General $50 per person.

If you wish to attend and/or order dinner, please register online and include the names of your guests. You may also send a check made out to BAHA (to reach us no later than 25 May) to:

2318 Durant Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94704

Dinner Menu

Passed Appetizers
  • Vegetable Crudités with labane, hummus, and za’atar.
  • Stuffed Cremini Mushrooms with goat cheese, spinach, and parmesan cheese.
  • Bruschetta with blue cheese and fresh apricots.
  • Mediterranean Salad. Romaine lettuce with vine-ripe tomatoes, Kalamata olives, shredded carrots, scallions, feta cheese, sourdough bread croutons (on the side) and lemon-mint vinaigrette.
  • Almond-Crusted Salmon. Salmon fillet with almond crust and pesto.
  • Pomegranate Chicken. Mary’s Chicken, slow cooked in pomegranate juice, rose water, walnuts, wnions, and spices.
  • Roasted Root Vegetables. Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, red potatoes, and red onions roasted with extra-virgin olive oil and fresh oregano.
  • Jeweled Rice. Basmati rice with toasted almonds, raisins, sautéed onions, carrots, and celery.

Additional information, including the nominated slate of officers and directors, will follow by mail and e-mail.

24 March 2019

BAHA Spring House Tour, Sunday, 5 May 2019

Photo: Daniella Thompson

Tickets are now available for our 44th Annual Spring House Tour and Garden Reception.
The tour will take place on Sunday, 5 May 2019, between 1 pm and 5 pm.
Tour-day ticket booth will open at 12:30 pm in front of St. Clement’s Episcopal Church, 2845 Claremont Boulevard.

For complete details and ticket orders, please see the House Tour page.

22 February 2019

“Icons of Early Modernism” lecture, 14 March 2019

Le Corbusier: Villa Savoye, 1929–31, Poissy, France (photo: Erik Kramvik)

Artistic License Guild of Artisans

presents a lecture by Erik Kramvik

Icons of Early Modernism

Thursday, 14 March 2019
7:30 pm
The Hillside Club
2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley

Suggested donation: $10 general; $5 HSC members

In the early years of the 20th Century, artists and designers in France and Germany experimented with new ways of looking at the world that would lead to the development of the Modernist Style. In his third lecture of this series, Erik Kramvik discusses some of the key milestones of the period that would eventually change the world.

Erik is a charter member of Artistic License, devoting the past 35 years to the restoration and rehabilitation of period homes. He also explores the world in an effort to photographically document the great achievements in architecture and design.

Pierre Chareau: Sofa corbeille, 1921, Centre Pompidou (photo: Erik Kramvik)

09 December 2018

Two new landmarks designated

George Wilson House (Google Street View, 2018)

George Wilson House
M.J. Welch (1885–86)
2415 Blake Street
Designated: 6 December 2018

Designed by a prolific San Francisco architect, this small Italianate cottage was constructed a decade after the 1875 subdivision of the Leonard Tract, which had been open farmland until and shortly after that time. As such, the Wilson House represents one of the few original surviving structures in the tract.

Contrary to prevailing legends that have painted him as a banker who built himself a summer home in Berkeley, George Wilson (1847–1926) was an Irish immigrant who came to America in 1871 and settled in San Francisco, where he worked as a clerk, porter, and night watchman. The Berkeley residence was meant to be the Wilson family’s primary home, but the isolated locale and the howling coyotes soon drove them back to San Francisco. By 1900, Wilson was a widower with four daughters aged eight to 16. The Southside was developing, and a small commercial center was materializing at the intersection of Telegraph Avenue and Dwight Way. Beginning in 1902, the Wilsons were again listed in the Berkeley directory. The Blake Street house remained in the family until the early 1970s.

In 1974, the house was acquired by Herbert J. Bofinger (1920–1999), an architectural designer and landscaper who lived here until his death. In 1979, Bofinger designed and built in the rear garden a shingled, two-story cottage in the Third Bay Tradition style. This rear structure and Bofinger’s landscaping are included in the landmark designation.

The landmark application and associated reports are accessible online.

Torrey House, 1 Canyon Road (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

Torrey House & Cottage
Ernest Coxhead (1905–06); Walter T. Steilberg (1935)
One & 5 Canyon Road
Designated: 6 December 2018

This Panoramic Hill parcel is distinguished for its three major features: the Frederic & Alice Torrey residence (1905–06), designed by famed architect Ernest Coxhead in the First Bay Tradition style; the elegant Beaux-Arts stairway leading to the house, designed by Torrey’s partner, Henry Atkins; and the Second Bay Tradition shingled cottage atop a three-car Fabricrete garage (1935), designed by noted architect Walter T. Steilberg, who lived next door.

Frederic Cheever Torrey (1864–1935) was a famous art dealer and a partner in the tony San Francisco firm of Vickery, Atkins & Torrey, purveyors of paintings in oil and water color, fine prints, objects of art, and picture frames. In 1913, Torrey caused a major uproar when he purchased the most ballyhooed painting of that year’s Armory Show in New York: Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. One of the Nude’s most frequent observers was a straggly-looking boy of 16 who lived close by at 2350 Prospect Street and often entered the house without knocking, selecting a book from the shelves and settling down to read. His name was Thornton Wilder.

The Torrey house, cottage, and stairway form part of the Panoramic Hill Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The landmark application and associated reports are accessible online.

16 October 2018

Kenney Cottage dismantled and stored

Kenney Cottage on the move again, 15 October 2018 (photo: Dmitri Belser)

The saga of the Elizabeth M. Kenney Cottage has accompanied us for 18 years. In late 2000, while a demolition permit for the former Kelly-Moore Paint Company building at 1725 University Avenue was before the Landmarks Preservation Commission, a storage building in the rear was identified as a rare example of an early, locally developed prefabricated building system.

The cottage was originally located at 2214 Addison Street. Built in 1887 for Elizabeth M. Kenney, who operated a stationery store in the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot at Center Street and Shattuck Avenue, it was also home to Mrs. Kenney’s nephew, James Kenney, who would become Berkeley’s first fire chief. The Kenneys lived in the cottage until 1898, when it was sold to Ludwig Meinheit.

In 1906, Meinheit moved the cottage to 1725 University Avenue, then a quieter location. The Meinheit family, whose son William became a firefighter under James Kenney, owned the cottage until the early 1960s. The Kelly-Moore building went up in the 1970s.

The Kenney-Meinheit cottage was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark, Structure of Merit, on 5 February 2001. It was moved from 1725 to 1275 University Avenue on 24 August 2003. The new site, owned by the City of Berkeley, was meant to be a temporary one. BAHA took title to the cottage and for the next 15 years made many efforts to find a satisfactory permanent site for the 3-room cottage. All efforts having failed, and pressured by the City to move the cottage, BAHA transferred the title to Dmitri Belser and Tom White, who have a history of successfully moving and restoring historic structures. Until they find a suitable site, the new owners have dismantled the cottage and put it in storage.

22 August 2018

First Annual Susan Dinkelspiel Cerny Memorial Lecture

Thursday, 13 September 2018
7:30 pm (doors open at 7:00 pm)
Ballroom, Berkeley City Club
2315 Durant Avenue, Berkeley

Free admission.

Speaker: Richard Guy Wilson, Commonwealth Professor, Architectural History, University of Virginia

Topic: Creating a California Identity: Preserving the Missions

BAHA is pleased to announce the First Annual Susan Dinkelspiel Cerny Memorial Lecture. Endowed by friends of Susan Cerny, the lecture is free to the public, but seating is limited, so registration (at Eventbrite) is required.

In his illustrated talk, Professor Richard Guy Wilson will focus on efforts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to save the crumbling missions of Spanish California, and discuss how those efforts spearheaded the historic preservation movement in the state.

Susan Dinkelspiel Cerny was a past BAHA president and longtime BAHA board member, past member and chair of Berkeley’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, author of Berkeley Landmarks, editor of and contributor to An Architectural Guidebook to San Francisco and the Bay Area, and a tireless advocate for preservation.

An informal reception will follow the lecture.

07 August 2018

BAHA office is closed during August

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2018

The BAHA office will be closed to the public during the month of August.

We are finishing some improvements to McCreary-Greer House, including a major exterior painting & repair project and some garden work, and our hardworking staff and volunteers are taking a well-deserved break.

During the closure, you can still contact us via e-mail. Keep your eyes peeled for announcements of upcoming events.

05 August 2018

A tale of two captains and a grocery store

Captain James S. Higgins Temperance Grocery Store
(photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

For many decades, the building at 834 Delaware Street was believed to have been Captain William J. Bowen’s inn, saloon, and grocery store, constructed in late 1853 or early 1854. The late Jerry Sulliger was the first to discover that this building dates from 1874 or ’75 and was initially constructed for Captain James S. Higgins. Contrary to popular belief, Bowen did not sell his grocery store to Higgins. Rather, the two captains operated competing stores across the street from each other for a couple of years, before Bowen got out of the grocery business. A new article by Daniella Thompson provides fresh information to augment Jerry Sulliger’s essay on the subject and sheds new light on the lives of the two pioneer captains.

Read it here:
Berkeley Landmarks: Captain James S. Higgins Temperance Grocery Store

04 August 2018

Come see us at the Solano Stroll

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2007

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday, 9 September 2018, at the 44th annual Solano Stroll. The BAHA booth will be located at 1741 Solano Avenue, on the north side of the street, near Ensenada Avenue.

17 May 2018

Annual membership meeting & lecture

Photo: Daniella Thompson

Thursday, 31 May 2018
The Hillside Club
2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley

6:30 Social Hour — no-host wine bar
7:00 Buffet Dinner ($35 by reservation)*
7:30 Business Meeting and Election of Officers & Directors
Free coffee & dessert for all
8:00 Lecture

Mt. Tamalpais from Berkeley, c. 1905 (Anthony Bruce postcard collection)

4,500 Years of Living in Berkeley

Speaker: Professor Kent Lightfoot
Introduction by Malcolm Margolin

Kent Lightfoot, Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, is an expert on the history of the West Berkeley Shellmound, the oldest known site of human habitation in the Bay Area. He will speak about what archaeology at the West Berkeley Shellmound tells us about our community’s first era of human habitation.

Buffet Dinner

Mediterranean Salad
Romaine Hearts with vine-ripe Tomatoes, Olives, shredded Carrots, Scallions, Feta Cheese, and Lemon-Mint Vinaigrette.

Spring Mix, Beets, Pear Salad, with Berry Vinaigrette
Organic Spring Mix, Beets, Pears, Berry Jam, Apple Cider Vinegar, extra virgin Olive Oil.

Jeweled Rice
Saffron Rice with Middle Eastern Spices, caramelized Onions and Carrots, Nuts and Raisins.

Roasted Vegetables
Assorted Vegetables, roasted with extra virgin Olive Oil and fresh Oregano.

Roast Chicken
Organic Mary’s Chicken Breast and Thighs with fresh Herbs, Garlic, Fennel, and Lemon.

Boeuf Bourguignon
Niman Ranch Beef Brisket, Red Wine, Onions, Celery, Olive Oil.

Dinner will be provided by Jasmine Catering.

* If you wish to order dinner, please purchase tickets online and include the names of your guests.

For further information, call (510) 841-2242 or e-mail to baha@berkeleyheritage.com.

Slate of BAHA Officers and Directors for FY 2018–19

President: Steven Finacom
Vice-President: Leila H. Moncharsh
Secretary: Carrie Olson
Treasurer: Stephanie Manning

Directors at Large
  • Jane Edginton
  • Mariana Gallardo
  • Neysa Garrett
  • James Grandison
  • Ann Killebrew
  • Jane McKinne-Mayer
  • Arlene Silk
  • 15 May 2018

    Judge rules for Berkeley in Post Office case

    Photo: Daniella Thompson

    On Monday, 14 May 2018, U.S. District Judge William Alsup found that the Civic Center District Zoning Overlay established by the City of Berkeley in September 2014 is not unconstitutional, as claimed by the USPS and the U.S. Department of Justice.

    Read the details of this case in Courthouse News, Save the Berkeley Post Office, and Berkeleyside.

    The full decision can be read here.

    07 April 2018

    Campanile Way designated a City Landmark

    Campanile Way, a historic roadway on the University of California campus, was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark on 5 April 2018.

    One of Berkeley’s oldest and most important landscape features, the “Way” leads downhill from Sather Tower, pointing directly toward the Golden Gate and San Francisco Bay.

    This view corridor was inspired by Frederick Law Olmsted in the early 1860s; he advised the private College of California on planning the new campus site and suggested that the magnificent and symbolic view towards the Golden Gate should be the organizing principle of campus design. In the 1870s, the first buildings on the campus were sited accordingly, flanking a “baseline for buildings” that matched the line of today’s roadway. In the 1880s, the first campus library, Bacon Hall (featuring its own bell, clock tower, and flagpole), stood at the top of the “Way.”

    In the early 20th century, Campanile Way took on its familiar classical form, flanked by John Galen Howard’s handsome granite Beaux-Arts buildings, lined with rows of pollarded London planetrees, and crowned with Sather Tower at its top. Since then, generations of campus users and visitors have been daily inspired by the view of the bay and the Golden Gate from the top of the “Way.” Several U.C. campus planning documents currently in effect recognize the importance of this view corridor.

    The landmark application is accessible online.

    31 March 2018

    BAHA 2018 Spring House Tour

    Sunday, 6 May 2018
    1:00 to 5:00 pm

    See the House Tour page

    Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2018

    04 March 2018

    Hicks House designated a City Landmark

    Thomas & Louise Hicks House (photo: Shmuel Weissman)

    The Thomas & Louise Hicks House, a 1904 Arts & Crafts residence built by Chapin A. Martin at 2901 Benvenue Avenue, was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark on 1 March 2018. One of the most distinctive and best-preserved houses in the Elmwood district, the Hicks House was among the earliest houses constructed in the Berry-Bangs Tract, and the first house on its block.

    The Hicks House is distinguished by a cross-gabled roof with flaring eaves and upturned bargeboards; a symmetrical façade marked by large twin gables; a shingled second story overhanging a first story clad in heavily textured stucco; decorative rafter-tails in the eaves under the second story; an abundance of original wood-sash windows with latticed lights set in wooden muntins; clinker-brick base skirt, porch columns, porch parapets, and chimneys; and a central recessed portico with a heavy timber beam, exposed ceiling joists, and clinker-brick pilasters flanking the front door.

    In its early days, the Hicks House was the home of a lumber dealer, followed in rapid succession by two executives of the Sherwin Williams paint company. For 37 years between 1919 and 1956, the Hicks House served as the manse of St. John’s Presbyterian Church and was the home of its pastors, notably Rev. Francis Wayland Russell, D.D., and Rev. Stanley Armstrong Hunter, D.D., both of whom were nationally known religious leaders. When St. John’s sold the Hicks House in 1956, it became the home and working studio of Mynard and Mary Groom Jones, two well-known concert singers and voice teachers who trained generations of classical singers.

    The Hicks House retains integrity of location, design, materials, setting, feeling, and association. The landmark application is accessible online.

    08 February 2018

    A new Structure of Merit designated

    Google Street View

    The George A. Mattern Building, 2500 Shattuck Avenue at Dwight Way, was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark, Structure of Merit on 1 February 2018.

    The building’s architect, Louis Maylon Upton (1879–1943), made his name by designing elegant Pacific Heights mansions in San Francisco. Although he lived in Berkeley, Upton is known to have designed only four buildings here. Three of those projects, including this handsome, mixed-use corner building, were commissioned by the knitwear manufacturer George Alfred Mattern (1864–1945).

    Constructed in 1923, the Mattern Building was originally clad entirely in buff-colored pressed brick on its street façades, and its corner storefront was designed to house a branch of the Berkeley Bank of Savings and Trust Company. When Bank of America took over the space in 1936, its exterior was clad in stucco. Today, the unpainted brick face remains on the second floor, on the southernmost Shattuck Avenue storefront, and on the western part of the Dwight Way façade.

    Among the Mattern Building’s notable features are a cornice undermounted with dentils; horizontal bands of decorative brickwork below the cornice, above and below the second-floor windows; six fluted pilasters with four capitals incorporating a stylized BA motif; a cutoff corner with a balcony on the second story; double casement windows along the upper-level façades; and a five-part clerestory with turned-wood mullions above the entrance to the southernmost Shattuck Avenue storefront.

    The Mattern Building anchors the northern end of a largely intact block of late 19th- and early 20th-century commercial structures. It is also a relatively rare surviving example in Berkeley of a multistory, brick-clad, mixed-use building that retains much of its original design and its original unpainted brickwork.

    The landmark application is accessible online.

    06 February 2018

    C. M. Cook, the mysterious architect

    Courtesy of Anthony Bruce

    In 1904, upper Telegraph Avenue underwent a character-changing transformation. The stretch between Bancroft and Channing ways, then an elegant residential enclave dotted with imposing mansions, was invaded by commerce. The person responsible was the developer John Albert Marshall, who dared to defy the resident millionaires by erecting the neighborhood’s first mixed-use building.

    “Ground was broken to-day for a three-story business block at Telegraph avenue and Bancroft way, to be erected by J. A. Marshall at a cost of $40,000. Five stores will face Telegraph avenue and two on Bancroft way,” announced the San Francisco Call on October 17. Construction of the Marshall Apartments was the shot across the bow that set the millionaires fleeing.

    The architect of the Marshall Apartments was one C. M. Cook, who had his initial foray into Berkeley only two years earlier. Within less than a decade, Cook’s buildings proliferated through Berkeley. Many of those structures survive, and a few have been designated City of Berkeley Landmarks.

    It all came to a stop in 1910, and the architect remains a cypher—two initials and a short surname. The C. M. Cook mystery is all the deeper, since his 1940 U.S. Census record reveals that the architect’s education did not go beyond the fourth year of high school. Who, then, was Cook, how did he become a sought-after architect, and what led to his sudden disappearance following a brief, meteoric career?

    The mystery is solved in this newly published article.