28 January 2006

Exploring the Adirondacks

The Hillside Club Arts & Crafts Lecture Series presents
a slide lecture by Steven Engelhart:
Exploring the Adirondacks: An Architectural Tour of a Great Rustic Tradition

Thursday, 9 March 2006
The Hillside Club

2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley
8 pm; doors open at 7:30

Tickets: $12 at door; $8 for Hillside Club members

The furniture and architecture of New York Adirondack State Park represent a uniquely regional form of arts and crafts design. Steven Engelhart, Executive Director of Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) is coming to the Hillside Club to present this heritage to our community.

During the late 19th century, sportsmen and others came to the Adirondacks seeking recreation and revitalization in this six-million acre wilderness region. The slide lecture will show how resident builders and professional architects developed a rustic style of architecture that is best represented by the dramatic Great Camps and many churches, libraries, railroad stations, and other structures still used in this region’s towns and villages.

Information about a six-day AARCH tour on 9–15 September will be available following the slide presentation. A detailed itinerary will describe the daily travel to Great Camps, historic buildings, and other sites of interest. Steven Engelhart is a native of the Adirondack region. He has a master’s degree in historic preservation from the University of Vermont and is author of Crossing the River: Historic Bridges of the AuSable River.

Come a little early or stay a little late and enjoy conversation and refreshments. Proceeds benefit the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association.

17 January 2006

Berkeley’s Heritage is under Attack

Do we want Berkeley to look like this?

Or like this?

In the 1960s and 1970s, Berkeley lost many homes. Neighborhoods were destroyed when apartment buildings, BART stations, and parking lots were built, many with no review of the impact on the people living in the immediate and surrounding neighborhoods.

We thought this could never happen again.
But it is about to if we do not stand up and speak out.

After the travesties of the ’60s and ’70s, neighborhoods and individuals stood together and ultimately passed the Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance (NPO) and the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance (LPO). Since then, these ordinances have helped restrain the random and uncontrolled development of earlier years.

This protection of our neighborhoods, historic homes, and historic and cultural sites is about to end if the Mayor, the Planning Commission, and probably the City Council have their way. They want to strip the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance of most of the neighborhood protections that it contains. Once again, developers will have free reign over Berkeley and what it will look and feel like.

We cannot let this happen. Please call BAHA if you have any questions: 841-2242.

Come to the City Council’s Public Hearing
on the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance
Valentine’s Day (make it a date!)
14 February 2006
at Old City Hall, 7 p.m.

Speak out against the proposed changes
to the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance!

16 January 2006

Neighbors of Ashby BART v. Transit Village

On 13 February 2001, The Berkeley City Council approved Vice Mayor Maudelle Shirek’s Housing Policy for Development of Ashby BART West Parking Lot to “Adopt policy guidelines that the west parking lot at the Ashby BART Station be developed with housing as a top priority.  To the extent possible, housing should be affordable and available to public sector workers.  If necessary, replacement parking and movement of Berkeley Flea Market to another site should be considered.”

On 13 December 2005, the City Council voted to endorse a $120,000 grant application to the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for major Transit Village development with 300 units of housing built over ground-floor commercial space, which would displace the flea market. The actual grant application had been filed two months earlier.

It is not a coincidence that Transit Villages are the 1994 creation of then-Assemblyman Tom Bates in Assembly Bill 3152. It is also not surprising that the Ashby BART neighbors are taken aback at the half-mile radius project area, the eminent-domain implications, and potential upzoning for higher density.

This proposed Transit Village development joins the future Ed Roberts Campus, slated for the Ashby BART east parking lot. The Ashby Station neighborhood is a classic turn-of-the-century streetcar suburb, predominantly Colonial Revival in style. City of Berkeley planners have deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. (See our extensive photo essay on Ashby Station.)

For comprehensive information about the Transit Village project, visit Neighbors of Ashby BART. Here you can find an area map and links to all the newspaper articles and public documents involving the case.

To receive updates on the Transit Village project, join the Neighbors of Ashby BART news group: http://groups.google.com/group/nabart.

A panel discussion on the proposed Transit Village District, sponsored by local neighborhood associations, will take place on Tuesday, 17 January, 7:00pm, at the South Berkeley Senior Center, 2939 Ellis St. at Ashby.

13 January 2006

Bates v. Neighborhoods

The Mayor’s proposed revisions to the Landmarks Preservation Ordinance are giving preservationists a great deal to worry about.

Read Roger Marquis’ commentary on what the proposed LPO revisions really mean to Berkeley’s neighborhoods.

A City Council workshop on the proposed LPO revisions will take place on Tuesday, 7 February. The workshop will be followed with a Public Hearing a week later, on Tuesday, 14 February.

After the public hearing is closed, the City Council will give direction to staff to prepare draft ordinance language. The Mayor’s staff anticipates that it will take a minimum of 30 days to prepare the draft.

02 January 2006

Building with Nature: Inspiration for the Arts & Crafts Home

Lecture & book signing by Leslie Freudenheim
Friday, 10 February 2006
7:30 pm
First Church of Christ, Scientist

2619 Dwight Way at Bowditch Street, Berkeley

Reception to follow
Tickets: $15

This new edition of the classic Building with Nature: Roots of the San Francisco Bay Region Tradition focuses on the beginnings (1865 and on) of the California Shingle and California Mission Style Arts & Crafts houses, and the origins of the trend toward building simple rustic homes in harmony with nature. Some of the key players in this drama were Bernard Maybeck, Willis Polk, Ernest Coxhead, A.C. Schweinfurth, John Galen Howard, Julia Morgan, Charles Keeler, William Keith, Bruce Porter, and their “wizard” mentor, the Swedenborgian minister Joseph Worcester. The cast of characters also include eminent figures on the national scene, such as Daniel H. Burnham, Frederick Law Olmsted, John Muir, and William Randolph Hearst.

Building with Nature: Inspiration for the Arts and Crafts Home presents some revolutionary ideas, including exciting new material that places California in the forefront of the Arts & Crafts movement. It shows how  the architectural development of San Francisco’s Russian Hill and widespread interest in William Morris and John Ruskin subsequently influenced Berkeley’s architecture via Olmsted, Polk, Coxhead, Maybeck, Howard, Morgan and the Hillside Club. The book also features Berkeley’s First Unitarian Church with its tree-trunk columns and the San Francisco Swedenborgian Church, now a National Landmark and an Arts & Crafts icon. The author shows how the Swedenborgian Church’s Mission-style chairs provided the model for several lines of Mission-style, Stickley and Craftsman furniture popular once again today. Freudenheim suggests that the Arts & Crafts “simple home” spread from the Bay Area to Pasadena and Los Angeles and then nationwide, promoted heavily by Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman and by other magazines.

Building with Nature can be purchased at the BAHA bookstore. Call (510) 841-2242 or e-mail us for shipping information. The book is also available for purchase online from the publisher, Gibbs Smith, or from Amazon.

In her lecture, Leslie Freudenheim will talk about her discoveries and examine how Joseph Worcester and his circle encouraged less materialism through architecture that complemented a simpler life in tune with nature, inspired by vernacular architecture in Yosemite and worldwide. Freudenheim will quote letters from Joseph Worcester, Daniel H. Burnham, Bernard Maybeck, William Morris, Frederick Law Olmsted, and John Muir, and illustrate her lecture with rare historic images.

A reception will follow the talk, with refreshments and book signing.

Order tickets online: