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 fa├žade 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.