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.