29 December 2004

Century Building demolition

The website savethecentury.org documents the day-by-day destruction of the famed Century Building in St. Louis. The building was constructed in 1896. Being listed in the National Register of Historic Places did not save it from demolition.

The December issue of The Commonspace published Michael R. Allen’s essay We Lose More than the Century Building.

23 December 2004

21 December 2004

BAHA Gift Shop holiday hours

The BAHA Gift Shop at the McCreary-Greer House, 2318 Durant Avenue, in the rear, will be open Wednesday, 22 Dec. from 2 to 6 pm and Thursday, 23 Dec. from 2 to 4 pm.

Julia Morgan: Architect, 1977
Lilian Bridgman, Architect, 1983
Maybeck, The Family View, 1980, 1991
The Berkeley Fire, 1992

Berkeley Landmarks, revised edition, August 2001
Picturing Berkeley: A Postcard History, November 2002

People & Places, A Memoir, Stonegarden Press, 1992
Buildings of Berkeley: Phase Two, 1991
Last of the Ultimate Bungalows: The Thorsen House, The Gamble House, 1996

41 Walking Tours of Berkeley, Cal., 1986
Dear Richard, 2004
Berkeley Southside CD-ROM, 2004
Berkeley 1900
Tamalpais Tales, 2004

House Tour Brochures (available: John Galen Howard & the Beaux Arts Tradition, 1988; 1st Church of Christ, Scientist & its Benvenue Neighbors, 1991; Panoramic Hill, 1989; Claremont Creekside, 1990; Southampton’s Villas, 1991; The 1923 Berkeley Fire, 1992; Northbrae, 1994; Piedmont Way, 1995; Arts & Crafts in Oakland & Berkeley, 1996; Claremont & The Uplands, 1998; Kelsey Ranch, 1999; How the Neighbors Lived, 1999; Claremont Country Houses & Gardens, 2000; Around Live Oak Park, 2001; Around the Claremont Hotel, 2001; The Making of a Streetcar Suburb, 2002; Tamalpais & Shasta, 2003; Berkeley 1890, 2004.

See our Publications page for prices and additional gift ideas.

30 November 2004

BAHA’s position on the Foothill bridge

Honorable Mayor and City Council:

The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA) strongly recommends that you vote against granting the University of California an Encroachment Permit for the Foothill pedestrian bridge over Hearst Avenue.

This bridge would cause a substantial detriment to the historic Northside neighborhood. The adverse impact of this major institutional encroachment upon the streetscape cannot be mitigated.

Residents of the area east of La Loma Avenue are complaining that the construction of the Foothill student housing complex in 1988–90 isolated their streets from the rest of the Northside neighborhood, leaving them only two narrow view corridors down Ridge Rd. and Hearst Ave. A bridge across Hearst Ave. would further isolate this area and eliminate one of the remaining view corridors.

Furthermore, the institutional look of the proposed bridge is an unfortunate misfit in a historic residential neighborhood. Daley’s Scenic Park was the first residential tract north of the campus and is home to many City of Berkeley Landmarks, as well as to several structures listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

At 2717 Hearst Ave., located directly behind the proposed Foothill bridge, is the Phi Delta Theta Chapter House (John Reid, Jr., 1914), #83001172 in the National Register of Historic Places (listed in 1983) and City of Berkeley Landmark #59 (designated in May 1982). This historic structure has been surrounded, trivialized, and overshadowed by the Foothill complex. A bridge will render it invisible from any point to the west.

The Highland Place and Ridge Rd. blocks facing the Foothill complex are where Bernard Maybeck built five of his early brown-shingle houses in the 1890s. All five structures survived the 1923 fire, but only two (the Charles Keeler House and Studio, both City of Berkeley Landmarks) managed to survive insensitive development. Let’s not compound the errors of the past with a fresh one.

While disabled access is very important, even U.C. planners concede that the Foothill bridge will not solve the mobility problems of the disabled, who would still face serious challenges crossing Gayley Road on their way to the campus and to city streets below.

As the Daily Californian pointed out in its editorial against the bridge, U.C. has sufficient handicapped-accessible units in existing dormitories on the Southside. Moreover, in the new Southside dormitories currently being completed, all the units are either handicapped-accessible or convertible within 24 hours. The twelve accessible units in the La Loma block of the Foothill complex can be easily made up for in other dormitories.

Both the Design Review Committee and the Landmarks Preservation Commission found the proposed bridge inappropriate and its design unacceptable. Their findings were summarized in the report of the Public Works Commission, which recommends that you vote against granting an Encroachment Permit for the Foothill bridge. Please take the time to read the Commission’s findings and vote accordingly.

27 November 2004

Cloyne Court at 100

Interior courtyard, looking east. Newman Hall is visible behind.
(photo: Picturing Berkeley)

The Cloyne Court Hotel, designed by John Galen Howard for the University Land and Improvement Company, opened its doors in December 1904 at 2600 Ridge Road, on the corner of Le Roy Avenue.

The investors included Phoebe Apperson Hearst, Jane K. Sather, James K. Moffitt, John Galen Howard, James M. Pierce, et al. The hotel was named after the philosopher George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, and was built at the substantial cost of $80,000.

A 1904 sales leaflet for the University Land and Improvement Co. described Cloyne Court as “a high class modern apartment house in Berkeley, California.”

Tim Banuelos and Linda Robinson, architectural researchers of the Cloyne Court Hotel, record that Howard designed Cloyne Court with 32 suites made up of one to five rooms. An unusual design feature for that time were the separate stairways leading to each two suites, with no long hallways on the second and third floors. The building also boasted a unique fireproof system, whereby different sections of the house were separated by brick firewalls and automatic sliding fire-proof doors.

Many notable guests stayed at Cloyne Court or lived there full-time. And no wonder. Entries in the guest book explain the hotel’s attractions:

  • “Cloyne Court...where beauty and hospitality are mated”
    Francis G. Allison, 1917

  • “Giving people a happy home is a divine service.”
    Benjamin Ide Wheeler, 1923

  • “Cloyne Court fills one of the more important needs of modern man—peace.”
    Alessus Camel, 1936

  • “Cloyne Court—Silence and peace in an insane world.”
    Ernest Block, 1944

As one of the University Students Cooperative Association’s larger and noisier residential co-ops, Cloyne Court has long since ceased to be a haven of silence and peace. Far more accurate would be the moniker “insane world.”

Cloyne Court was designated a City of Berkeley in November 1982. It is #92001718 in the National Register of Historic Places (added in 1992).

See a list of John Galen Howard projects, downloadable as an Excel spreadsheet.

25 November 2004

Messiah sing at First Church

Photo: Joseph Stubbs

The First Church of Christ, Scientist in Berkeley invites you to participate in a sing-along of Handel’s Messiah under the baton of conductor William Ludtke.

The event will be held on Sunday, 5 December, at 2:30 pm.

The church is located at 2619 Dwight Way, on the corner of Bowditch Street. Parking will be available for $7 at the U.C. Underhill parking lot on Channing Way, between Bowditch St. and College Ave.

There are no tickets to purchase, but donations are welcome. They will benefit the restoration of this Maybeck-designed National Landmark (the only one in Berkeley).

If you have a score, please bring it.

18 November 2004

An evening at the Art Deco
Mary Bowles Building

The Art Deco Society of California, in partnership with the Oakland Heritage Alliance, invites you to attend an Evening with the Architect at the Mary Bowles Building, 1718 Telegraph Ave., on Tuesday, 30 November.

The restoration of the fabulous Mary Bowles Building in Uptown Oakland is almost finished. Come meet ADSC member T.J. Towey of KTA Architects, who will reveal the intimate process of reviving a Deco masterpiece.

Designed by architect Douglas Dacre Stone and called a “fine modern building” by the Oakland Tribune in 1936, the Mary Bowles Building features a beautiful exterior multi-hued blue-green terra-cotta frieze and exquisite black and silver columns.

Mr. Towey will present the fascinating details of this renovation and rescue process that has spanned over three years. A slide show, building tour, and light refreshments will round out the evening. Social Hour at 6:30 pm, Program at 7:30. This event has been generously underwritten by Mr. Parviz Poustincian.

RSVP to 415.982.DECO (3326) by Tuesday, 23 November, with name and number in your group. Admission will be collected at the door. Deco attire admired but not required. $10 for members of the Art Deco Society and Oakland Heritage Alliance; $15 for non-members.

16 November 2004

American Decorative Arts Forum
2005 lectures

The American Decorative Arts Forum has just released its lecture schedule for the coming year. Admission is free for ADAF members and $15 for non-members. The price of admission can be counted toward a $50 individual membership for 12 lectures a year. Further information is available at www.adafca.org.
11 JanuaryArt Pottery, Bungalows and Atascadero: E.G. Lewis and the American Women’s League
Anne Woodhouse, Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, MO
Mini-exhibit: Arts & Crafts pottery and tiles
8 FebruaryDuncan Phyfe: Legendary Cabinetmaker
Peter Kenny, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Mini-exhibit: Classical designs: anthemia to urns
1 MarchAmerican Sampler: Silver and Other Treasures from the Ruth Nutt Collection
Julie Emerson, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, WA
Mini-exhibit: Silver vessels, trays and trophies
5 AprilVictorian Glory: Victorian Interiors and All the Stuff They Contained
Paul Duchscherer, San Francisco
Mini-exhibit: Victorian textiles: antimacassars to shawls
10 MayAmerican Fancy: Exuberance in the Arts 1790–1840
Sumpter T. Priddy III, Alexandria, VA
Mini-exhibit: Fancy ceramics, chairs, coverlets, quilts, tole
14 JuneCollecting Country Arts: Nina Fletcher Little and the Connoisseurship of Anonymity
Philip Zea, Historic Deerfield, Deerfield, MA
Mini-exhibit: Folk, outsider and tramp art
12 JulyThe American Potter: Redware, Stoneware and Porcelain 1700–1900
Amanda Lange, Historic Deerfirld, Deerfield, MA
Mini-exhibit: American, Asian and European ceramics
16 AugustThe East India Marine Society and Early Maritime Collecting in Salem
Daniel Finamore, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA
Mini-exhibit: Maritime art and artifacts
13 September Golden Gate Park: Gallery of Victorian Style, Culture and Custom
Christopher Pollock, San Francisco, CA
Mini-exhibit: San Francisco scenes and memorabilia
11 OctoberBenjamin Franklin at Home
Page Talbott, Bala-Cynwyd, PA
Mini-exhibit: Founding fathers and mothers
8 November California Paintings of the Hudson River School and the Barbizon Period
Alfred C. Harrison, Jr., Northpoint Gallery, San Francisco, CA
Mini-exhibit: Landscapes
13 DecemberTo the Table: Food Preparation, Presentation and Pleasurable Partaking
Elizabeth Garrett, Strawbery Banke, Portsmouth, NH
Mini-exhibit: Place settings

15 November 2004

Daily Cal opposes Foothill Bridge

Proposed Foothill Bridge, looking east

The university’s application for a major encroachment permit to build the Foothill Bridge is coming before the City Council again on 7 December.

While the Residence Hall Assembly has been loudly cheering the bridge as a necessity, The Daily Californian came out with an editorial opposing construction of the bridge.

Here is the complete text.
Don’t Build Bridge

Friday, November 12, 2004

While the proposal to construct a bridge joining the La Loma residence hall to main Foothill buildings is an admirable attempt to extend accessibility for people with disabilities, it is a waste of resources that could end up causing more problems than it solves.

The Foothill Bridge would run above Hearst Avenue and connect northern La Loma to Hillside, the central Foothill complex. The bridge could reduce jaywalking and make it more convenient for residents to reach the dining commons. La Loma would be more accessible to those with disabilities, who cannot currently live there—they have to traverse a half-mile uphill path to reach the dining commons. The bridge, in the original blueprints for the housing project, is slated to cost $1 to $1.5 million.

Despite the potential benefits of the bridge, proponents ignore the fact that most students with disabilities can be accommodated by Units 1, 2 and 3. Bowles Hall has no handicapped-accessible facilities either, but this hasn’t been an issue—the university has not had trouble accommodating students who need such considerations.

On top of the extraneous nature of the project, the bridge would not solve the problem it professes to address. City council member Dona Spring, who uses a wheelchair, is against the plan because students would have to use a key to access an elevator to reach the bridge—this could prove very difficult for some with disabilities.

Building such a bridge has neighbors living uphill from Foothill concerned, because the construction would ruin many of their views and reduce property values.

If the university is bent upon bettering housing complexes for the benefit of Berkeley students, this construction project is not the way to do so. While we appreciate the university’s good intentions, we believe the bridge is unnecessary and its negative effects far outweigh the potential convenience for La Loma residents.

10 November 2004

Hewn and Hammered

A custom tile frame by David Eklund

Hewn and Hammered is a gorgeously designed collaborative weblog sponsored by Style 1900 and dedicated to any and all aspects of the Arts & Crafts movement, with an emphasis on the Mission, Prairie, and Craftsman styles of architecture and design.

Here you can find information about artisans and suppliers, read book reviews, and enjoy stunning photography.

The weblog is open to anyone who wishes to contribute.

05 November 2004

Wurster’s Jensen Cottage
expansion on appeal

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004

Stockton-born architect William Wilson Wurster (1895–1973), namesake of Wurster Hall on the U.C. campus, was one of the most influential American residential designers of the mid-20th century. From 1944 to 1950, he was dean of the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT and from 1950 to 1959, dean of the Architecture School at U.C. Berkeley.

His major works include the Golden Gateway Redevelopment Project and Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco, Cowell College at U.C. Santa Cruz, and a number of office buildings. But it is his residential work for which Wurster is best known—especially the Gregory farmhouse (1926–27) in Santa Cruz and the Butler house in Pasatiempo (1931–36).

Both the Gregory and the Butler houses are documented in the book An Everyday Modernism: The Houses of William Wurster, edited by Marc Treib (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996) following a major exhibition of Wurster’s work at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Another house documented in the exhibition and in the book is the Edgar Jensen house, commonly known as the Jensen Cottage (1937) at 1650 La Vereda Road. The Jensen Cottage comes before the City Council on Tuesday, 9 November. Neighbors are appealing the ZAB decision to approve a large addition to this significant example of Second Bay Region architecture.

Today’s Berkeley Daily Planet is running a detailed commentary by historian Ruth Rosen and architect Chris Adams.

A public hearing on a landmark designation proposal for the Jensen Cottage was continued by the Landmarks Preservation Commission pending the Council’s vote on the appeal.

03 November 2004

Revising landmark law

Berkeley Art Museum: our most significant
modern building might face the wrecker’s ball.

At the vital heart of preservation in Berkeley is the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance. The LPO has been under revision for the past four years. In July, the Landmarks Preservation Commission completed a final draft.

This LPO draft is now before the Planning Commission, which expects to hold a workshop on it in December.

What’s at stake? A great deal. Veteran planner John English explains it all in his article Revising landmark law.

This article is required reading and a call to action for anyone who cares about preservation.

28 October 2004

“Steamboat ’round the Bend”

Joe Harris on his balcony, 1937
(photo courtesy of Billie Jean Harris D’Anna)

On 29 August 2004, BAHA hosted an afternoon of Art Deco glamour at the Joseph W. Harris house, 2300 Le Conte Avenue, Berkeley.

As a result of that event, we learned a great deal about Berkeley’s most prominent Streamline Moderne residence. The results of this research are presented on four pages in Berkeley Landmarks and complement our article about the House of Harris men’s clothing store, better known as Call Me Joe.

25 October 2004

Joseph Stubbs’ Berkeley Southside

Trinity Methodist Church
(photo: Joseph Stubbs)

Designer Joseph Stubbs has given Berkeley a tremendous present: the online version of his Berkeley Southside interactive photo survey, until now available only on CD-ROM.

When you click the View Full Resource button in Berkeley Southside, you get a large map of the Southside, peppered with symbols representing the architectural styles of the entire built environment in the 40-block area south of the U.C. campus, from Fulton St. on the west to College Ave. on the east, and from Bancroft Way on the north to Derby St. on the south.

The 138 buildings indicated in red are historic or significant architectural resources. Clicking on any red symbol will open a pop-up window with one or more of Stubbs’ high-quality photographs and information such as the building’s address, its architect (if known), year of construction, and architectural style.

Beautifully designed, Berkeley Southside is an extremely valuable resource for all of us who care about architectural preservation.

Joseph Stubbs continues to sell the CD-ROM on his website, and so does BAHA.

21 October 2004

Art Deco walking tours

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2007

The Art Deco Society of California is offering four walking tours in the Bay Area.

Saturday, 13 November: Berkeley
Meet your guide at 11:00 am in front of the United Artists Theater,
2274 Shattuck Avenue. Tour lasts 90 minutes.

Sunday, 21 November: Downtown Oakland
Meet at 11:00 am on the corner of 13th and Broadway.
Tour lasts two hours.

4 & 5 December: San Francisco
Downtown on Saturday and the Marina on Sunday.
Tours begin at 10:00 am and last two hours.

All tours are free to Art Deco Society members, $10 general.
Tours cancelled in inclement weather.
Phone (415) 982-3326 on day of tour to confirm.

13 October 2004

A Frank Lloyd Wright haven

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004

On Wednesday, 13 October, BAHA thanked its regular volunteers and members in the Patron and Benefactor categories by way of a private reception in an opulent Frank Lloyd Wright home.

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004

Built in 1948, the house wraps around a lushly landscaped pool fed by a waterfall. Dramatic redwood and concrete-block interiors feature widely varying ceiling heights, culminating with the butterfly-roofed living room. Two creeks traverse the three-and-a-half-acre lot, where native oaks cohabit with oriental landscaping, displaying to good advantage a rustic gazebo over a pond, a Japanese teahouse, and large-scale Chinese statuary.

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004

Berkeley Landmarks author Susan Cerny, who is currently working on a Bay Area architectural guidebook, arranged the event.

See additional photos from the visit in the BAHA Photo Gallery.

01 October 2004

Berkeley City Club

Berkeley City Club (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

In April 1927, a group of Berkeley women, long having felt the need of a center for women’s activities and long having cherished the plan of bringing this into being in their city, called a meeting of delegates from various women’s clubs in Berkeley. A temporary chairwoman, Dr. Kate Gompertz, was authorized to appoint committees to complete the organization of a Women’s City Club for Berkeley.

Thus begins an article in the Berkeley, California Year Book of 1930, where the young Berkeley Women’s City Club, 4,000-members strong after a mere three years of existence, announced its new building, then under construction and entirely financed by the members. It was a feat the likes of which will never be seen in Berkeley again.

With the help of the Berkeley City Club, we have mounted the first three pages of a series dedicated to the club, its history, and its building. More will come.

28 September 2004

The Ark

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004

From 1906 until 1964, the University of California’s School of Architecture (now the College of Environmental Design) was housed in a modest brown-shingle building at the north gate of the campus. The building was called the Ark and nurtured many important Bay Area architects, including such luminaries as John Hudson Thomas, Henry Gutterson, and Walter Steilberg.

John Galen Howard designed the Ark as a temporary building, planning to replace it eventually with a monumental, granite-clad Arts building. The grand design never came to fruition, and the little Ark (now North Gate Hall, home of the Graduate School of Journalism) is with us still.

Read about it in Berkeley Landmarks.

27 September 2004

BHS exhibit celebrates
Fire Department’s Centennial

Peralta volunteer firemen, 1901 (photo: Berkeley Fire Department)

The Berkeley Historical Society will open its new exhibit, Celebrating the Berkeley Fire Department’s Centennial, on Sunday, 3 October from 3 to 5 pm at the Berkeley History Center. The exhibit traces the history of the Berkeley Fire Department, its innovations, and the fires it has fought from the days of the Volunteer Fire Department’s Beacon #1 and a hose-cart named Tiger #1 to modern-day firefighters. Curated by Ken Cardwell, the exhibit will run until 26 March 2005. The Berkeley History Center is open every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday between 1 pm and 4 pm.

Berkeley Historical Society
Veterans Memorial Building
1931 Center Street, Berkeley
Telephone (510) 848-0181

25 September 2004

Five Friday house tours

Berkeley City Club (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

Beginning in December, BAHA will be inaugurating monthly guided house tours on the first Friday of each month. Dubbed “Here and There” in Berkeley & Oakland, the tour series will explore some of the East Bay’s most celebrated architectural gems.
3 Dec. 2004Camron-Stanford House
1418 Lakeside Drive, Oakland
7 Jan. 2005Berkeley City Club
2315 Durant Avenue, Berkeley
4 Feb. 2005Hearst Memorial Mining Building
U.C. Berkeley campus
4 Mar. 2005Pardee Home Museum
672 11th Street, Oakland
1 Apr. 2005Cohen-Bray House
1440 29th Avenue, Oakland
For additional information, see the BAHA Events Calendar.

22 September 2004

Lecture on Cohen-Bray house

Anglo-Egyptian Frieze (1880s)
from the Cohen-Bray house

On Monday, 27 September, Lorie Shay will present a decorative arts and furniture analysis for the historic Cohen-Bray house in Oakland, plus schematic design proposals for the existing outbuildings at the house.

The presentation is based on Lorie’s senior thesis, which will serve as a guide to preservation at the house:
Today the Cohen-Bray House stands as a tribute to a style and craftsmanship that will never be replicated. Because the Cohen-Bray site has remained in one family from 1884 until the present, because the family used the property in the nineteenth century and then maintained it and changed it minimally during most of the twentieth century, and because for the last decade the site has remained in the conservation-minded stewardship of the Victorian Preservation Center of Oakland, the Cohen-Bray House survives as an unrestored time capsule of nineteenth-century domestic architecture, decorative arts, and social history; an ideal candidate for preservation.

Monday, 27 September 2004
California College of the Arts (CCA), room E1
1111 8th Street, at the corner of Irwin
San Francisco (directions)

Social at 6 pm
Presentation at 6:30 pm

15 September 2004

California Performance Review, Fresno

The California Performance Review (CPR) Commission is meeting this Friday, 17 September:

10:00 am to 5:00 pm
California State University, Fresno
Satellite Student Union
5241 North Maple Street
Fresno, CA 93740

See the meeting agenda on the CPR website. KPFA will broadcast the entire proceedings.

As we reported on 11 August, the CPR Commission has recommended elimination of the State Historical Resources Commission.

The California Preservation Foundation has just issued an advocacy bulletin, urging all preservationists to write letters to the commission and to attend the Fresno meeting.

A sample letter and all necessary instructions are provided in the bulletin.

10 September 2004

Free tours of the Old SF Mint

The Old Mint at Fifth and Mission Streets in San Francisco opened 130 years ago, in 1874. At the time, it was the largest federal building in the West and held a third of the nation’s gold supply (read about its history). Coin-minting operations in the ornate Greek Revival building shut down in 1937, and a museum inside the landmark closed in 1994.

The Old Mint is on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s list of 11 Most Endangered Places. The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society plans to restore the building and provide a permanent home for a 40,000-sf city museum, with the balance of the building being used for a visitor center to be operated by the Convention and Visitors Bureau; Bureau of the Mint exhibits in the historic vaults; office space for community organizations; and related restaurant and retail spaces. For further details, visit sfhistory.org/.

Free guided tours of the Old Mint will be offered in October. Explore the vaults, the Victorian details, and learn about the building’s history. All tours last an hour and a half.

Old Mint tours
Tuesday, 19 October at 6 pm
Tuesday, 26 October at 6 pm
Saturday, 23 October at 10 am

09 September 2004

Crocker Highlands house tour

Photo: Linda Hall

The Oakland Heritage Alliance fall house tour features eight 1920s homes in the Oakland hills. Distinguished by their high quality and careful craftsmanship, these Period Revival homes show the influences of Tudor, Arts & Crafts, Colonial, and Mediterranean styles.

Located in Crocker Highlands, above Lakeshore Avenue and bordering the City of Piedmont, the houses sit in a “residential park” setting inspired by the English “garden suburbs” movement of the early 20th century.

The self-guided tour will take place on Sunday, 10 October 2004. Proceeds from the tour benefit the Oakland Heritage Alliance, a nonprofit preservation organization. Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 on the day of the tour, and $25 for OHA members. For advance tickets, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope by 4 October to OHA at 446 17th Street, Oakland, CA 94612. For further information, please call OHA at (510) 763-9218, send an e-mail to info@oaklandheritage.org, or visit www.oaklandheritage.org.

08 September 2004

Charles Keeler on Berkeley

Hearst Memorial Mining Building (John Galen Howard, 1902)
on an early postcard

“It is an unfinished place with much about it that might be bettered, particularly in the provincial architecture of its business section,” wrote Charles Keeler about Berkeley in 1902. What would he have thought of the Seagate mammoth?
Wherein lies the charm of Berkeley? It is in the vine-covered cottages and profusion of flowers which at the height of the season make the town seem decked for a carnival? Is it in the glorious prospect of rolling mountains and far-spread sky? Or is it the people, drawn away from near and far by that great magnet, the University? We old timers complain that the town is getting crowded and no longer has the rural tone of a few years ago. But what matter? Ceaselessly the houses go up, new ones springing into existence on every hand, and the only consolation is that on the whole the architecture is steadily becoming simpler and better.

Read Keeler’s ruminations on Berkeley in The Eastern Shore.

03 September 2004

Kenney cottage stucco comes off

BAHA board members Richard Ehrenberger (left)
and Richard Wesell attacking the stucco
(photo: Daniella Thompson)

A year ago, BAHA took charge of the historic Kenney cottage, a City of Berkeley Landmark, Structure of Merit that had been located behind the former Kelly-Moore Paint Company building at 1725 Universty Avenue. That building was demolished to make way for affordable housing, and BAHA undertook to find a new home for the cottage.

On Sunday, 24 August 2003, the cottage was moved (see photos) to a temporary site on a city lot at 1275 Universty Avenue. BAHA is working diligently to find a permanent site and funding for restoration.

On Thursday, 2 September 2004, a group of BAHA board members began the long restoration process. Built of redwood, the Victorian cottage had been stuccoed over. We removed most of the stucco from the façade and will organize a larger work party to take the rest off and paint the wood.

Volunteers are solicited. Call BAHA at (510) 841-2242 or send us an e-mail.

See photos of the stucco removal.

01 September 2004

More on “Call Me Joe”

Joe Harris posing for a Western Fair promotion, 1938
(photo courtesy of Billie Jean Harris D’Anna)

Our Afternoon of Art Deco glamour was a resounding success. We learned more about Joseph W. Harris from his daughter, Billie Jean, who attended the event and brought us photos.

The first Harris page is now up on the Berkeley Landmarks website. It’s devoted to the store that used to be called Call Me Joe and was later rebaptized House of Harris.

The second page, dedicated to the Harris residence and featuring many photos, will be published soon.

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 façade’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.

21 August 2004

The Tape family at leisure

Bernice Park at Pacific Grove
(photo from Tape family album, courtesy of Jack kim)

The saga of the Tapes of Russell Street continues to unfold.

A few months ago we borrowed the photo albums of the Tape family from Jack Kim, Ruby Tape’s youngest brother, and scanned hundreds of images. Some of them are scattered throughout the four articles. Others will be published in pictorial pages.

The first pictorial page is now online. It depicts the Tape family at leisure during the first decades of the 20th century. See them on their Sunday outings, camping, relaxing in vacation resorts, picnicking, fishing, hunting, sightseeing, and splashing in the sea.

The happy little girl to the left is Bernice Park, daughter of Florence and Edward Park. Edward was the brother of Robert Park, who married Emily Tape. Florence and Ed lived with their two daughters in a Brown Shingle at 1743 Cedar Street. Across the street, at 1744, lived Daisy and Wah S. Lee, close friends of the Tapes.

Enjoy the album. More pages and more photos will follow.

16 August 2004

Time draws near for Kenney cottage

Kenney cottage on the move (photo: Jerry Sulliger, August 2003)

A year ago, BAHA assumed responsibility for finding a permanent home for the Kenney-Meinheit cottage, a prefabricated panel house whose design was patented by William H. Wrigley in 1881, may be the oldest existing example of this type of prefab construction in America, according to Howard Decker, Chief Curator of the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The cottage is a a designated City of Berkeley Stucture of Merit. At one time it was the home of James Kenney, Berkeley’s first fire chief.

Unfortunately, a site has yet to present itself. This cottage would ideally serve as a museum or display structure; it is not suitable for residential use, as any code upgrade would adulterate its historic integrity.

Time is drawing short. The cottage is currently sitting on a City of Berkeley lot at 1275 University Avenue. The city is asking us to move it as soon as possible.

Do you have ideas or would like to get involved?
Call BAHA at (510) 841-2242.

11 August 2004

Goodbye, California Historical Resources Commission?

The California Performance Review is a massive report, presenting four volumes of “comprehensive recommendations to reform and revitalize California’s state government. 275 volunteers worked tirelessly for five months examining organizational structures, analyzing data, meeting with stakeholders and compiling the recommendations.”

Volume II includes the page Evaluating California’s Boards and Commissions, which proposes to eliminate 118 of the state’s 339 boards and commissions. In some cases the board or commission and its functions are both proposed for elimination. In other cases, the board governing structure is being proposed for elimination but the functions of the board are being transferred elsewhere, such as to an existing department.

One of the commissions proposed for elimination is the Historical Resources Commission. The recommendation reads as follows:
Eliminate the Commission and transfer all responsibilities related to the listing of historic sites, inventorying of such sites, and developing policies to ensure their preservation and rehabilitation to the Division of Parks, History, and Culture within the Department of Natural Resources. Should the need arise, the Secretary may appoint an ad hoc advisory committee to deal with such matters as evaluating sites for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the California Register of Historical Resources, and the California Historical Landmarks and California Points of Historical Interest registration programs.

What does it mean?

It’s been suggested that if the Historical Resources Commission is eliminated, the Office of Historic Preservation will go down the same route, as will the following programs:

  • The CLG program / CLG Grants

  • Tax Credit projects

  • Nominations to the California and National Registers (and public participation process in them)

  • The California Main Street Program

  • Technical support to local governments

  • Section 106 Reviews

  • The Information Centers

The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended in 2000, requires a qualified state Historical Resources Commission. The existing commission costs the State only $17,000 annually. In return, the Office of Historic Preservation receives federal funding ($1.2 Million last year).

What to do?

Submit feedback on the California Performance Review website.

Let the Governor know what you think:
The California Performance Review
Office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814
Toll Free: 1-877-End-Waste

Get in touch with your local representatives and candidates for office and tell them that you’re opposed to the proposed elimination of the Historical Resources Commission.

09 August 2004

Oakland Heritage walking tours

Oakland Municipal Rose Garden, c. 1932 (courtesy of OHA)

The Oakland Heritage Alliance is offering its 24th annual program of summer walking tours. Held every Saturday and Sunday in August, the program includes these guided walks, led by experts: Temescal; Laurel Neighborhood; Richmond Boulevard; Rockridge Arts and Crafts; Broadway Meets the Water; New and Old in McClymonds-Clawson.

Architecture figures prominently in several of these walks, and some of the tour leaders will be familiar to you (e.g., Betty Marvin and Jane Powell).

For complete details, check 2004 Walking Tours on the OHA website.

06 August 2004

Art Deco glamour in Berkeley

Step into the elegant world of Berkeley’s premier Art Deco residence, the Joseph W. “Call Me Joe” Harris House (John B. Anthony, architect, 1936).

BAHA will be hosting a reception/open house at this fabulous, rarely seen house. Deco fans will adore the opulent period appointments and the sumptuous materials that abound in this unique landmark. Experts will be on hand to expound on the architectural details.

2300 Le Conte Avenue
Sunday, 29 August, Three to Six o’clock

Special Guests:
Billie Jean Harris D’Anna, who lived in the house in the 1930s.
Michael Crowe, author of Deco by the Bay and co-founder of the Art Deco Society.
Jane Powell, author of Linoleum.

Refreshments will be served.
Hourly parking is available at the UC Lower Hearst Parking Structure, Scenic Avenue at Hearst.

Please send a check payable to BAHA,
P.O. Box 1137, Berkeley, CA 94701

Or order your tickets online.

03 August 2004

The Life and Spirit of a Remarkable Town

Champions of our town might want to take a look at Berkeley: The Life and Spirit of a Remarkable Town, the new gift book from local publisher North Atlantic Books.

Featuring photography by Kiran Singh and text by Ellen Weis, the book takes a behind-the-scenes look at many of Berkeley’s gems:
The deco-inspired arts district of Downtown; the frenetic rainbow bustle of Telegraph Avenue; the creative and folksy Southside; the Elmwood district’s large houses, lush gardens, and small-village feeling; the world-class University of California campus; the Northside’s sumptuous “Gourmet Ghetto” and majestic Hills; and the warehouses, antique salvage yards, and high-end retail strips of West Berkeley. Along the way, famous people, sites, and buildings are profiled historically—from People’s Park and the students of the Free Speech Movement to the Rose Garden and the new Hass School of Business; from ever-present outdoor markets and festivals to Alice Waters’ world-famous Chez Panisse restaurant and her model student garden for Northside middle schoolers.

The book may be purchased online directly from the publisher or at Easy Going bookstore on the corner of Shattuck and Rose.

Easy Going will be kicking off the book release with a slide presentation on Wednesday, 25 August, at 7:30 pm.

29 July 2004

Deco glory

Harris house (photos: Daniella Thompson, 2004 )

Would you like to step inside and look around this house?
Watch this space for an announcement.

25 July 2004

Religion vs. the movies

La Bonita Theater, San Francisco, 1919 (San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection)

San Francisco’s 4-Star Theater, located in the Richmond District, on 2200 Clement St. at 23rd Ave., began its life in 1912 as La Bonita. Its façade has changed considerably over the years, but not the affection it inspires in the community.

The theater’s lease will expire on 9 May 2005, at which time the operator must vacate the premises. Since 2001, the property has been owned by the Canaan Lutheran Church, which plans to occupy the building.

The theater’s operators, Frank and Lida Lee, have held the lease on the theater since 1992. They claim that had a verbal agreement with Wang Li-fen, the previous owner, to buy the property should Wang decide to sell, and have spent more than $200,000 on renovations, including adding a second screen, new seats, a sprinkler system, and disabled access. The Lee say that they matched Canaan’s offer of $1.2 million, but Wang sold the property to the church.

The Lees have mounted the website save4star.net in an attempt to build up community support.

Canaan Lutheran Church has its own set of problems. Since 1996, it has been sharing Zion Lutheran Church’s facilities at 495 Ninth Ave. Zion agreed to let Canaan use its facility but requested that Canaan make a good-faith effort to find its own property as soon as possible.

A recent article in the San Francico Chronicle covers the story in detail.

20 July 2004

That room off the main lobby

The Café, St. Francis Hotel, c. 1910 (postcard courtesy of Anthony Bruce)

The St. Francis Hotel boasts a grand history, whose beginning is summarized in the hotel’s website:
At the turn of the century, the guardians of the Charles Crocker family announced plans to build the finest hotel on the Pacific Coast. Their vision was to make San Francisco the “Paris of the West.” After studying all of Europe’s grand hotels—from those in Berlin, Vienna, and Monaco to Claridge’s in London to The Ritz in Paris—construction on the original St. Francis Hotel began. Two years and $2.5 million later, on March 21, 1904, the doors of The St. Francis opened.

A recent article in the San Francisco Chronicle provides a chronology of the main-floor restaurant, which was just renovated beyond recognition:
1904: The room off the main lobby is a ladies’ and gentlemen’s café. The architecture was inspired by the Cluny Museum in Paris.

1907: The space was restored after the earthquake and fire, and named The Café.

1913 or thereabouts: The space was turned into a reading room holding 4,000 books. Tables and Tiffany lamps gave hotel guests a place to write letters.

1939: The Patent Leather Bar was born. Black patent leather covered the walls, the banquettes and the 60-foot bar that snaked through the room. Ansel Adams’ photographs of the bar still hang in the St. Francis lobby. The ornate ceiling was covered, as were the windows; they wouldn’t be opened for 40 years.

1939 or ’40: Several vases of orchids were spread around the Patent Leather Bar, which had been dubbed the “coffin corner” by the media.

1954: The room became a cocktail lounge called The Terrace Room, with a bar, limited food service and kimono-clad waitresses. It wouldn’t change for 26 years.

1980: The Compass Rose was designed with a sense of “oriental wickedness,” according to media at the time. The name came from the multipointed design on the back of a compass. Embracing cobras made up the bases for cocktail tables. Buddhist prayer screens from Burma provided focal points. Marble covered the stairs, and griffins decorated the bar. The ceiling was lifted to reveal the original design.

Sources: Westin St. Francis Hotel historian Howard Mutz and Chronicle files

According to the hotel’s media representative, “This room has historically changed every 20 to 30 years, so we’re at the 23-year mark with the Compass Rose. The public wants to see another fine-dining establishment, so because we are at the juncture of 23 years, and because the hotel is turning 100 next year, this is all done as part of the natural evolution of change.”

Not everyone is delighted. Every day brings a new lament. One Chronicle reader complained, “More painful than any visit to the dentist are the views of the Michael Mina restaurant and the once-grand lobby.” Another asked, “We mourned the demise of Newbegin’s Books with a glass of champagne at the Compass Rose, but where can we go to mourn the passing of the Compass Rose?” Gerald Nachman was considerably less charitable:
The recent “renovation” of the gorgeous Compass Rose Room at the St. Francis Hotel, to make way for the unstoppable duck-confit mob, occurred with not even a fraction of the controversy over the threatened decapitation of the Doggie Diner head on Sloat Boulevard. [...]

I only hope that those wondrous frosted etched-glass partitions, the carved bar and plush rose banquettes were stored somewhere handy, so that when the buzz-crazed foodies desert the new St. Francis restaurant, as they will for the next fashionable joint, the old Compass Room can be restored to its former beauty.

14 July 2004

Preservation action, 1919 style

The statement above was made in a protest letter that 47 residents of Daley’s Scenic Park addressed to the Berkeley City Council in November 1919. They wrote:
This protest is made at this time, because of the removal of a large oak tree on Le Conte Avenue, near Le Roy Avenue, which tree is now in the process of removal, and which tree was in no dangerous condition, as claimed, and could have been brought back to the normal condition by the application of a small water-drip, as was suggested to the authorities by Mrs Perkins, et al, and as was done in the case of Le Conte and other oaks on the University Grounds with entire success.

The complete letter, with additional signature pages, can be seen here. On the same page there’s a rare photograph of the oak tree circa 1910, shortly after Le Conte Avenue had been graded as part of the Hillside Club Street Improvements in the Daley’s Scenic Park tract.

13 July 2004

Free tours of Maybeck’s masterpiece

Photo: Joseph Stubbs

Friends of First Church is a non-profit, non-denominational volunteer organization dedicated to assisting the First Church of Christ, Scientist with the restoration and preservation of its building (Berkeley’s only National Historic Landmark, designed by Bernard Maybeck) and with education about its architecture and history.

A free architectural tour is offered on the first Sunday of every month. Tours start at 12:15 pm and last about 45 minutes. This is a very special opportunity to see the fabulous interior. Everyone is welcome.

07 July 2004

Le Conte Memorial Lodge centennial

Le Conte Memorial Lodge (photo: Stephen Joseph)

In 1905, the book A History of the New California: Its Resources and People, Volume I was published, providing information on diverse topics such as “pioneer days, agriculture, mining, irrigation, manufacturing, railroads, education.” Chapter XVIII was dedicated to the State University and informed:
On December 1, 1868, a number of professors were elected, among them the illustrious John Le Conte. The others were Professors Kellogg, Fisher, Joseph Le Conte—afterward world-famous—and others. Professor John Le Conte arrived in California in March, 1869, and soon thereafter he arranged the courses of instruction, set the requirements for admission, and issued a prospectus for the coming year. On June 14, 1869, in the absence of the president, Professor John Le Conte was appointed to discharge the duties of the office of president. Later his brother, Joseph Le Conte, became one of the strongest and most beloved professors of the university, to which he was devoted unto the day of his death. Much of the fame of the university is due to his illustrious career.

The University of California’s first professor of Geology and Natural History, Joseph Le Conte was an avid mountaineer who made many trips to the Sierras. He recorded his impressions in The Autobiography of Joseph Le Conte, which is published online complete with illustrations.

A close friend of John Muir, Joseph Le Conte co-founded the Sierra Club in 1892. Two years following his death, the Club erected the Le Conte Memorial Lodge in Yosemite Valley. The charming lodge, now a National Historic Landmark, was designed by Bernard Maybeck’s brother-in-law John White, who in 1924 would design the Hillside Club on Cedar Street in Berkeley.

Le Conte Memorial Lodge is celebrating its centennial amid controversy. Last year, U.S. Rep. George Radanovich (R-Mariposa) introduced a bill (H.R. 2715) calling for the removal of the Lodge from Yosemite National Park. Radanovich calls it a “special use,” while the Sierra Club believes that what lies at bottom is pure vindictiveness. The bill passed the House Resources Committee on a 21-to-20 vote last fall but has been stalled ever since.

The Sierra Club provides full information on the case, including links to news stories and editorials in the press.

The Bancroft Library sells A Yosemite Camping Trip, a journal of a trip to Yosemite in 1889, written by the professor’s son Joseph N. Le Conte, who accompanied his father on this trip. The account is illustrated by photographs taken with an early Kodak camera.

01 July 2004

Landmark into parking in St. Louis

Century Building, downtown St. Louis

Built St. Louis is an extensive website “dedicated to the historic architecture of St. Louis, Missouri—mourning the losses, celebrating the survivors.”

These days, Built St. Louis is attempting to save the Century Building (which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places) from demolition.

The marble-finished Century Building is to be replaced with a 1,062-car parking garage. From Built St. Louis:
The garage’s purpose is to provide parking for the landmark Old Post Office, directly east of the Century, when Webster University moves in. Meanwhile, a larger lot to the north of the Old Post Office currently stands vacant. Yet, the garage will not be built on this obvious and far more inviting site. The vacant lot will instead become an “urban plaza,” in the name of providing new residents of downtown with a park and green space.

Downtown St. Louis is not short of green space. And who is going along with the developer’s plan to demolish the Century Building? None other than the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which issued the judgment that “demolition of the Century would be an unfortunate but necessary tradeoff for the long-term benefit of the Old Post Office and its neighborhood.”

Thousands have already signed the online petition to save the Century Building, which is not the only historic building threatened in downtown St. Louis.

T. Robert Yamada, 1925–2004

T. Robert Yamada, who passed away on 23 June, was general manager of the Books Unlimited Co-operative and a founder of the Berkeley Historical Society, where he served as president for four terms. Bob served on the board of the Berkeley Historical Society for 21 years and on the board of the Japanese American Citizens’ League from 1982 to 1994. He was also a trustee of the Berkeley Public Library for 14 years and served as president from 1986 to 1987. When he retired from the library board, Loni Hancock, then mayor of Berkeley, proclaimed 26 March 1987 as T. Robert Yamada Day.

27 June 2004

Frank Tape tells tall tales

Frank Tape and his mother Mary, 1922
(photo courtesy of Jack Kim)

The saga of the Tape family continues.

At the turn of the 20th century, Joseph Tape and his son Frank were active firefighters in the Peralta company of the Berkeley Volunteer Fire Department. The company was stationed on Shattuck Avenue near Russell Street.

In November 1941, Frank Tape was interviewed by columnist Hal Johnson of the Berkeley Daily Gazette. Among other fabulous stories, Frank decribed how, some forty years earlier, he had saved the life of Berkeley’s first fire chief, James Kenney. This story may be perfectly true, but coming at the end of a long chain of tall tales about the Tape family’s noble origins and Frank’s own alleged exploits as a secret service operator, one can’t help but wonder.

The interview may not reveal much accurate information about Berkeley’s early days, but it does make for vastly entertaining reading.

25 June 2004

Do you recognize this gate?

Berkeley, 1927

The photo above was taken in 1927, on the occasion of a baptism in an Italian family. A family member is trying to identify the location.

Click the photo to see three larger images taken on that day. All show parts of the gate.

22 June 2004

The Tape saga, part 2

Joseph Tape and his dogs (courtesy of Jack Kim)

If you’ve read The Tapes of Russell Street, you may be interested in following the fortunes of the Tape family in part 2: Five residences & the second generation.

Part 1 has been modified to reflect newly gathered information. Soon to be published: selections from the Tape family photo albums.

15 June 2004

Can you identify this place?



Test your knowledge of Berkeley. If you can identify the place in the photos, enter your answer in the comment tool below this post. The first person to post the correct answer will receive a prize.

13 June 2004

Campaign to save DC Sears kit house

Sears “Fullerton” kit house in a 1920 catalog (l); the Jesse Baltimore house today (r)

On 23 September, the Washington, DC Historic Preservation Review Board (HPRB) will rule on whether to include the Jesse Baltimore House in the DC Inventory of Historic Sites. The Jesse Baltimore House is a 1925 Sears Roebuck “Fullerton” kit house located at 5136 Sherier Place NW in the Palisades neighborhood. The DC Department of Parks and Recreation is currently seeking a permit to raze this historically significant house, which is actually owned by the National Parks Service.

The Jesse Baltimore House, DC’s most intact and original Fullerton, is a monument to DC’s blue collar builders of kit houses and the “streetcar suburbs” within the city. It has a rich history, documented with hitherto unseen photographs of the depression era Palisades.

Historic Washington Architecture is the organization trying to save the house. They write:
This is going to be an uphill battle in the spirit of “Don’t Tear It Down.” We are asking all friends of DC history and preservation to take a look at the website and, if you agree that the cause is worthy, to send a letter or e-mail in support of the nomination to the HPRB. Detailed contact information is presented on the Web pages.

Address your letters to Tersh Boasberg, Chair, Historic Preservation Review Board, at historic.preservation@dc.gov.

10 June 2004

Berkeley Southside CD-ROM

Designer Joseph Stubbs, a Southside resident, created a stunning CD-ROM documenting his neighborhood in high-quality photographs. On a clickable map in PDF format, you’ll find 138 buildings in the 40-block area south of the U.C. campus. The map includes symbols representing various architectural styles, and the more significant buildings are throughly covered with enlargeable photos and additional information. Buildings may be sorted according to architectural style for better understanding of distribution.

The Berkeley Southside CD-ROM is available for $22 + $2 S+H on Stubbs’ website. BAHA sells the CD-ROM for $20 at our office, 2318 Durant Avenue, or (with S+H added) via our website.

06 June 2004

Ernest Coxhead, revisited

Beta Theta Pi (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

The latest article in Dave Weinstein’s monthly SF Chronicle series Signature Style deals with Ernest Coxhead.

The article is interesting and informative. It even quotes our own Anthony Bruce. It is therefore puzzling why Weinstein omitted two of Coxhead’s most significant buildings in Berkeley.

Having written, “Some [Coxhead homes] look like medieval cityscapes, with varied rooflines and wings that make them look like individual row houses,” Weinstein fails to offer the clearest example in this vein, the Beta Theta Pi chapter house (now the Goldman School of Public Policy), built in 1893 at 2607 Hearst Avenue.

Similarly, the statement “Coxhead slyly mixed seemingly incompatible styles and the rustic and refined in a single building, creating drama on one façade, repose on another, and surprise throughout” would have been aptly illustrated by Allanoke (1903) at 1777 Le Roy Avenue, one block north of Beta Theta Pi. In this clinker-brick manorial house, the rustic exterior with its out-of-scale dormer gables contrasts with a formal, opulent interior.

If you’re inclined to go on a walking tour of Coxhead’s Berkeley houses, Daley’s Scenic Park offers two others from the turn of the 20th century, albeit not as architecturally interesting as Beta Theta Pi and Allanoke. Phoebe Apperson Hearst’s house at 2368 Le Conte Avenue offers the surprise of enormous scrollwork on the portico of a rather plain stucco house. Around the corner at 1816 Scenic Avenue, diamond panes distinguish the bay window of another stucco house. This used to be the reception hall that Phoebe Apperson Hearst built next to Benjamin Ide Wheeler’s house a year or two before her own house was constructed.

Mrs. Hearst owned a large tract of land at the top of what has come to be known as Holy Hill. She had intended to build a mansion there but never got around to it. Her appropriation of her son’s Hacienda del Pozo de Verona (A.C. Schweinfurth) in Pleasanton might have diverted her attention. The two Coxheads (and perhaps the lion’s head fountain on the Arch Street end of the Pacific School of Religion campus) are all that remains of her residence in Berkeley.

02 June 2004

State Historic Preservation Plan

The Office of Historic Preservation is preparing to revise and update the California Comprehensive Statewide Historic Preservation Plan 2006–2010. The revised plan will be developed in several phases during 2004–2005. Active public involvement is sought in developing the vision, issues, and goals of the State Plan, as well as in working to achieve those goals.

Learn more about the State Historic Preservation Plan Revision.

Please complete the State Plan Issues and Priorities Survey; it will remain online through 30 June 2004. This survey is one of the ways you can offer your insight and help shape OHP’s priorities for the next 5 years (2006–2010).

Please publicize the State Plan revision effort and the importance of public
input through the survey process.

25 May 2004

Berkeley’s revised LPO

Eight members of the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously last night to approve with some modifications the revised draft of the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (LPO). This is the first revision of the Ordinance since the latter had been enacted thirty years ago.

The most prominent change to the LPO is the new section 3.24.125, Request for LPC Determination, which would allow developers to obtain an accelerated determination on the historic significance of properties slated for development. Should the LPC decline to initiate such properties, the latter would gain a “safe harbor” period of exemption from LPC adjudication.

17 May 2004


Haviland Hall seen from Observatory Hill
(photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

In its eagerness to accord a place of honor on campus to the Chang-Lin Tien Center for East Asian Studies, U.C. is ready to sacrifice existing cultural and natural resources. The cultural resource is Haviland Hall (John Galen Howard, 1924), listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The natural resource is Observatory Hill, a prime botanical spot and former home of the historic Students’ Observatory. While the Draft EIR for the 2020 Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) documents these resources, it apparently finds nothing troubling about trivializing and overshadowing the former or destroying a major part of the latter.

To get an idea about what’s at stake, read Campus planning schizophrenia. Then take a virtual tour from the rear of Haviland Hall to the ruin of the Students’ Observatory at the crest of the Hill. Everything you’ll see on the way will be sacrificed for the Tien Center project.

Once upon a time, U.C. planned to site the Tien Center on the parking lot behind Dwinelle Hall. That plan was scuttled owing to “environmental” considerations. One wonders how a parking lot takes environmental precedence over a nature area. Since then, the university has apparently overcome its “environmental” qualms, since maps in its 2020 LRDP DEIR indicate an in-fill building on the Dwinelle parking lot. This begs the question: why can’t that in-fill building be the Tien Center? Alternatively, why can’t it be the new home of the School of Social Welfare, allowing The Tien Center to move into Haviland Hall and build a second, smaller building on the Haviland parking lot?

Such a solution would spare Observatory Hill and allow Haviland Hall to retain its position of primacy on the northwestern edge of Memorial Glade.