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.