31 December 2007

Susan Dinkelspiel Cerny lecture



Thursday, 10 January 2008
7:30 pm
Chapel of the Chimes
4499 Piedmont Ave
Oakland, CA 94611


Susan Dinkelspiel Cerny will discuss and sign her latest book, An Architectural Guidebook to San Francisco and the Bay Area, which provides a historic record covering the full scope of Bay Area architecture. The lecture will focus on Oakland and how it developed into what it is today.

The lecture is sponsored by the Oakland Heritage Alliance. OHA members $8, Non-members $10.

26 December 2007

Two East Bay churches mark Christmas centennials


Christmas Eve children’s concert at St. Joseph the Worker (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2007)

In the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, East Bay population ballooned practically overnight, absorbing 200,000 refugees of which three-quarters remained permanently. To accommodate their burgeoning communities, Berkeley and Oakland acquired new housing developments, factories, and transportation routes, as well as a good number of churches.

Three of the earliest churches to be constructed after the earthquake were completed one hundred years ago this month. One of the three—First Presbyterian Church at Dana St. and Channing Way—was demolished in 1973. The other two—St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church at 1640 Addison Street and Shattuck United Methodist Church at 6300 Shattuck Avenue—are still standing..

Read the stories of these centenarian churches.

18 December 2007

1930s Japanese flower nursery demolished for condos


1800 San Pablo Avenue (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2006)

This Streamline Moderne building occupied a corner lot at 1800 San Pablo Avenue from 1946 until Saturday, 15 December 2007.

The San Pablo Florist & Nursery was established by the Iwahashi family. When they moved back to Japan in the mid-’30s, the business was bought by Hisako and Shigeharu Nabeta, who came from two of the earliest flower-growing families in Richmond.

This information was recently uncovered by historian and West Berkeley resident Donna Graves in the course of her work on the Preserving California’s Japantowns project.

The Nabetas were interned in a camp during World War II and returned to Berkeley in 1946. They built this building and a house next to it where they lived until Shigeharu’s death in 1994.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission declined to initiate this building several years ago, paving the way for demolition. The use permit calls for a four-story, 51-unit apartment complex with retail space and 67 parking spaces.

Another historically and architecturally significant building, the Mid-Century Joe Donham Willys Showroom (1952) at 2747 San Pablo Avenue, awaits the same fate (see plans for the five-story condo development that will replace it). The LPC voted almost unanimously not to accord the building any protection.

With the demise of these two buildings, little of architectural interest remains on San Pablo Avenue. The one notable exception is the landmark H.J. Heinz Factory (Albert Kahn, 1927).

17 December 2007

Richard Schwartz on KPFA



Local historian and author of three books on Berkeley’s past, Richard Schwartz chats with Denny Smithson on KPFA’s Cover to Cover.

The two discuss Eccentrics, Heroes, and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley, Berkeley 1900, and Earthquake Exodus, 1906. In his engaging way, Schwartz also describes some of his current political, cultural, and environmental involvements in the area.

Listen to the program.

28 November 2007

A letter to Nathan Brostrom



November 20, 2007

Nathan Brostrom
Vice-Chancellor, Administration
200 California Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-1500

Dear Vice-Chancellor Brostrom:

We have just learned of plans to cut large overarching branches along Piedmont Avenue and are writing to you today with our urgent concerns about the damage such cutting would cause to historic resources.

The landscape of Piedmont Avenue is the very first street designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and as such is a historic resource of national significance. The landscape is a California Historic Landmark (#986) and has been determined eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. The trees along the frontage of Piedmont Avenue and their overarching branches are a crucial feature of the historic landscape. In his design, Olmsted specified a “close and overarching bowery of foliage” as the most important vegetation element of the landscape. The east side of Piedmont Avenue between the I-House and Kleeberger parking lots represents the best surviving section of overarching landscape in the entire historic resource. This section of historic trees was described in the UC Berkeley Historic Landscape Report for Piedmont Avenue:

“The fact that this land appears to have always been open space planted with large trees means that Olmsted’s vision of a verdant shaded road has essentially been in place on the east side of the street for more than a century.” (IV-4, Piedmont Avenue HLR, March 2006)

The overarching bowery of branches along the frontage of Piedmont Avenue is an essential character-defining feature of the historic landscape, and its loss would be devastating to the historic resource.

We recognize that the University of California faces significant concerns in the current situation with tree-sitters in the area. It is tragic that this crucial piece of history is now threatened because of the situation with the tree protest. We urge the University to seek solutions to deal with the situation that do no cause permanent damage to the historic landscape. There must be other alternatives available to the University, perhaps utilizing additional barriers, fencing or other temporary controls that would not necessitate permanent loss of historic features.

In closing, we hope the University can look to the guidance of The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, which stresses the implementation of measures which do not cause permanent loss of character-defining features in cases such as this. The overarching bowery of limbs along Piedmont Avenue has taken over a century to develop and is quite simply irreplaceable in our lifetime. Its loss would be a devastating blow to the rehabilitation efforts underway for this historic landscape and a terrible loss for the City of Berkeley and University of California.

Please feel free to contact us if we can be of assistance in anyway in promoting a positive solution to this issue.

Sincerely,

Carrie Olson
President

17 November 2007

A tale of two mystery houses and one politician


2212 Fifth St., built in 1877 (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2006)

1905 Grove St., built in 1904 (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2007)

Berkeleyans who enjoy exploring the town will have seen the lone pink Italianate Victorian standing at 2212 Fifth Street just south of Allston Way. Even those who don’t get about too much should be familiar with the grand Colonial Revival house guarded by two majestic palm trees at 1905 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (formerly Grove St.), just below Hearst Avenue.

Despite decades of research at BAHA, nobody knows who designed these two houses and by whom they were built.

But the houses have more than mystery in common: they also share a history, having been the successive homes of one prominent family, whose head was an imposing figure in local affairs as well as in state politics.

Read about Charles H. Spear and his two houses here.

13 November 2007

Berkeley High School Campus in the National Register


St. George bas-relief, science building west façade
(photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)


At its regular quarterly meeting, which took place on Friday, 9 November 2007 in Palm Springs, the State Historical Resource Commission voted unanimously to list the Berkeley High School Campus Historic District in the National Register of Historic Places at the local level of significance.

The application was one of ten on the consent calendar:

  1. Berkeley High School Campus Historic District
    Berkeley, Alameda County
    Local Level of Significance

  2. Board of Trade Building
    Los Angeles, Los Angeles County
    Local Level of Significance

  3. Bono’s Restaurant and Deli
    Fontana (Vicinity), San Bernardino County
    Local Level of Significance

  4. Carmel Valley Road-Boronda Eucalyptus Trees
    Carmel Valley, Monterey County
    Local Level of Significance

  5. Colombo Building
    San Francisco, San Francisco County
    Local Level of Significance

  6. Hagemann Ranch Historic District
    Livermore, Alameda County
    Local Level of Significance

  7. Coit Memorial Tower
    San Francisco, San Francisco County
    State Level of Significance

  8. Martinez City Library
    Martinez, Contra Costa County
    Local Level of Significance

  9. Pisgah Home Historic District
    Los Angeles, Los Angeles County
    Local Level of Significance

  10. Sand Hill Bluff Site
    Restricted Address
    Local Level of Significance

03 November 2007

Maybeck’s Boke House: made by one crusader for another


George Boke House, 23 Panoramic Way (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

The house that Maybeck designed for him on Panoramic Hill was but a brief way station for George Henry Boke (1869–1929), who was born in Placer County to a German store clerk and his 17-year old wife.

From a working-class childhood in Ventura and Butte Counties, Boke progressed through the State Normal School, a teaching certificate, undergraduate studies at the University of California, and a law degree from Harvard to emerge a professor of jurisprudence at U.C.

But Boke was a reformer, and his anti-graft crusading wreaked havoc with his academic career. The full story of Boke and his house is told in Maybeck’s Boke House: Made by one crusader for another.

08 October 2007

BAHA Authors Lecture Series



Thursday, 25 October, 2007
Richard Schwartz presents
“The Eccentrics of 19th-Century Downtown Berkeley”


Thursday, 1 November, 2007
Susan Dinkelspiel Cerny presents
“Observations: The San Francisco Bay Area
and its Built Environment”


Sunday, 11 November, 2007
Mark A. Wilson presents
“Julia Morgan: her Unique Place in American Architecture”


See details in the Events Calendar.

05 October 2007

Oak reception/work island available



Original furniture from the Berkeley Main Public Library.
Recently uncovered in BAHA’s carriage house is this ensemble of original oak furniture, custom-built for the Children’s Room of the Berkeley Main Public Library (James W. Plachek, architect, 1930) by San Francisco cabinetmaker Rudolph Brandlein.

The library gave these pieces to BAHA when it embarked on renovating and expanding the Main Library.

Included are a front desk/counter with two angled, detachable side-sections and a rear desk/work table. The set makes a wonderful work island, with cupboards, drawers, and varied work surfaces. Low-height counter tops accommodate adults and children alike.

BAHA would like to find a suitable home for this delightful artifact, which with a little TLC can be made to shine again (the restored cabinetry in the Main Library, also made by R. Brandlein & Co., is looking fabulous).

Ideal for a community or non-profit group engaged in serving the public. See additional photos and contact information.

27 September 2007

Jack P. Hillmer Memorial Tribute and Exhibition


Ludekens House (photo: Roy Flamm, courtesy of the Bancroft Library, U.C. Berkeley)

Recently rediscovered photographic documentation of architect Jack Hillmer’s mid-century masterpiece—the Ludekens House in Tiburon—will go on display on 11 and 12 October at the historic architectural offices of Warren Callister, 1865 Mar West Street, Tiburon (see map).

The exhibition is a memorial tribute honoring the life and work of Hillmer (1917–2007), an iconic Bay Area modernist architect known for his meticulous craftsmanship, bold imagery, warm materials, and innovative technology.

One of the most important and influential modern Bay Area houses, the Ludekens house (1949), marred by unsympathetic renovations, can now be seen as it was originally built in this photographic display, which was created by Jack Hillmer himself in 1952 from photos by Roy Flamm and exhibited at museums and universities throughout the country.

Besides photos showing construction and the completed house, the exhibit includes detailed information about the home’s philosophy, materials, innovative construction, and more.

The Ludekens house, unfinished redwood on a skeleton off steel, bravely cantilevers over San Francisco Bay. Hillmer detailed it beautifully, with exotic woods, and built it around a massive chunk of granite that he selected himself from the quarry and used as the home’s fireplace and centerpiece.

Reception: Thursday, 11 October 2007, from 5 to 8 pm.
The exhibit continues on Friday, 12 October 2007, from 1 to 6 pm.

Note: Mar West Street is a narrow road, and parking is tight. The best parking is below the studio, in the lot behind Dynasty Restaurant, 1801 Tiburon Blvd. Take the paved path up the hill.

05 September 2007

Susan Cerny leads walking tour


John Hinkel Park clubhouse (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

Saturday, 8 September, 2007
10 am– noon
Meet at Indian Rock Park
$10 general; $8 BHS members


In celebration of the centennial of Berkeley’s public park system, Susan Cerny will lead a walking tour co-sponsored by the Berkeley Historical Society and BAHA. Explore Indian Rock, Mortar, and Grotto Parks and John Hinkel Park. These are Berkeley treasures, full of native oaks, winding footpaths and large stone outcroppings. The parks are surrounded by picturesque homes set in lush gardens, often with rock outcroppings and nearby paths. The tour will focus on the men who developed these areas, as well as the architects and landscape architects. Not wheelchair accessible.

For complete details, see the Events Calendar.

24 August 2007

General Vallejo’s Yankee home


Lachryma Montis, Sonoma (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2007)

We all need a sanity break from Berkeley every now and then, but not everyone can fly off to the Seychelles or to Switzerland when the urge to flee is upon us.

Happily, beauty and calm are within easy reach in northern California. Only 55 miles away, the Sonoma Valley offers a myriad historic, visual, and gustatory attractions.

One of the most beguiling is General Vallejo’s Carpenter Gothic home in Sonoma, which was prefabricated in New England and shipped to California around Cape Horn in 1951.

Now the center of the Sonoma State Historic Park, Lachryma Montis is a charming oasis, especially mid-week, when you can have the place to yourself.

Read an illustrated article on Lachryma Montis in our Essays section.

20 August 2007

We recycle bottles. Why not buildings?


The preservation alternative allows the historic Blood House to coexist with 40 new housing units.

At the 2005 National Trust Conference, economic development consultant Donovan D. Rypkema delivered a presentation titled Economics, Sustainability, and Historic Preservation, stating in a compelling way that sustainable development should be not only about environmental sustainability.
  • Preservation, says Rypkema, means that dollars are spent locally instead of at a distant manufacturing plant. That’s economic sustainability, also part of sustainable development.

  • Maintaining the original fabric is maintaining the character of the historic neighborhood. That’s cultural sustainability, also part of sustainable development.
Rypkema goes on to discuss solid waste disposal:
We all diligently recycle our Coke cans. It’s a pain in the neck, but we do it because it’s good for the environment. Here is a typical building in an American downtown—25 feet wide and 120 feet deep. Today we tear down one small building like this in your downtown. We have now wiped out the entire environmental benefit from the last 1,344,000 aluminum cans that were recycled. We’ve not only wasted an historic building, we’ve wasted months of diligent recycling by the people of your community.
Next is the concept of embodied energy:
Razing historic buildings results in a triple hit on scarce resources. First, we are throwing away thousands of dollars of embodied energy. Second, we are replacing it with materials vastly more consumptive of energy. What are most historic houses built from? Brick, plaster, concrete and timber—among the least energy consumptive of materials. What are major components of new buildings? Plastic, steel, vinyl and aluminum – among the most energy consumptive of materials. Third, recurring embodied energy savings increase dramatically as a building life stretches over fifty years. You’re a fool or a fraud if you claim to be an environmentalist and yet you throw away historic buildings, and their components.
Rypkema reviews the Smart Growth movement’s statement of principles, and draws this conclusion from them:
If a community did nothing but protect its historic neighborhoods it will have advanced every Smart Growth principle. Historic preservation IS Smart Growth. A Smart Growth approach that does not include historic preservation high on the agenda is stupid growth, period.
Rypkema points out that an underappreciated contribution of historic buildings is their role as natural incubators of small businesses, concluding: “Sustainability means stewardship. Historic preservation is sustainable development. Development without historic preservation is not sustainable.”

Read Rypkema’s complete presentation and From Bottles to Buildings by Robert Shipley and Jason Kovacs.

17 August 2007

Berkeley Historical Society Fall 2007 Walking Tours


Civic Center Park (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

See our Events Calendar for tour descriptions and reservation information.

Northbrae & Arlington Villas Parks
Saturday, 8 September 2007
10 am–noon
Tour leader: Susan Cerny


California Historical Radio Society/KRE Radio
Saturday, 22 September 2007
10 am–noon
Tour leaders: Steve Kushman & Mike Adams


The Maybeck Estates
Saturday, 6 October 2007
10 am–noon
Tour leaders: Paul Grunland & Bob Shaner


Downtown Berkeley’s Transformation Over Time
Saturday, 20 October 2007
10 am–noon
Tour leader: Austene Hall with Jennifer McDougall & Juliet Lamont



Civic Center Park in the 1940s (Wayne Paper Box & Printing Corp.)

Lower Codornices Creek: From Rails to Restoration
Saturday, 3 November 2007
10 am–noon
Tour leader: Susan Schwartz with Drew Goetting & Richard Register


Berkeley’s Downtown Parks: Real, Envisioned, and Vanished
Saturday, 17 November 2007
10 am–noon
Tour leaders: Steve Finacom & Linda Perry


Bonus Tour: Hillside School
Saturday, 1 December 2007
10 am–noon
Tour leaders: Kay Dolit & Carolyn Adams

10 August 2007

Buyer sought for historic West Berkeley church

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004

Westminster Presbyterian Church, which changed hands last year, is on the market again. The third landmark designated by the City of Berkeley, the church at 926 Hearst Ave. and Eighth Street is the second oldest in town, having been built in 1879—a year after the neighboring Church of the Good Shepherd went up.

The church was designed by Charles Geddes, architect of Yosemite Chapel. The adjoining assembly hall was designed by Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr. and constructed in 1914.

In 1972, it became St. Procopius Latin Rite Church (unaffiliated with the Roman Catholic Church), and in 1993, it was taken over by the Mekane Selam Medhane Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Having outgrown its quarters, Medhane Alem last year sold the church to the Pentecostal congregation New Word of Faith. The current asking price is $1,700,000, and Medhane Alem’s board chairman Benyam Mulugeta is handling the sale. He may be contacted at (650) 906-8012.

27 July 2007

Oscar Maurer Studio celebrates its centennial


Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2007

On 24 July 1907, the Oakland Tribune announced, “Oscar Maurer, the local artist […] is having a studio built on Le Roy Avenue opposite his home and next to the studio of his brother, Fred Maurer, the musician. The structure is unique in design, with cement exterior and tiled roof.”

Five weeks later, on 1 September, the Tribune reported that “Maurer has recently taken possession of his new studio which has just been completed. It is one of the finest hereabouts, being built and furnished in the Spanish style of architecture.”

Designed by Bernard Maybeck, the studio foreshadows the architect’s eclectic design for the First Church of Christ, Scientist (1910). The elements assembled here include Mediterranean, Mission Revival, Neoclassical, and Modern.

Read more.

18 July 2007

Cultural Landscapes


Geological map of a portion of the Berkeley Hills (Andrew Lawson and Charles Palache, 1900. BAHA Archives)

Strawberry Canyon—Opposite the Golden Gate

A program sponsored by the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association & the American Society of Landscape Architects, Northern California Chapter.

Two summer evenings with
Charles Birnbaum
FASLA, FAAR
President, The Cultural Landscape Foundation, Washington, D.C.


An Ice Cream Social and Lecture
Town & Gown Club (Bernard Maybeck, 1899)
2401 Dwight Way, Berkeley
Thursday, 9 August 2007
Starting at 7:30 pm; lecture at 8 pm

$20

Charles Birnbaum, noted leader in establishing the American discipline of cultural landscapes, will present a framework for his visit to Berkeley and for providing technical assistance regarding Strawberry Canyon and its potential significance as a cultural landscape on a local, state, and/or national level.

Recognized in 1865 by Frederick Law Olmsted, Strawberry Canyon is the headlands of Strawberry Creek, a primary water resource giving birth to the University of California. The canyon has continuously remained a natural hillside vista representative of the Coastal Range, providing ongoing cultural benefit to the University, the city, and the greater region.

The lecture will address the challenging issues in the design, treatment, and management of cultural landscapes that are rich in natural, scenic, and cultural values. Mr. Birnbaum’s illustrated presentation will raise questions about how one defines a holistic stewardship ethic when balancing these myriad resource values.

Four Rambles, with Guides
into, through, and above Strawberry Canyon
Friday, 10 August 2007
Starting at 5:30 pm
Panoramic Hill, led by Gray Brechin (sold out)
Panoramic Hill (recently listed, as a residential neighborhood, in the National Register of Historic Places) is the southern slope of Strawberry Canyon. Its natural setting and architectural development reflect the cultural aesthetic of those who lived in Berkeley after the turn-of-the-century and aspired to “build with nature.” $10
University Botanical Gardens, led by Ellen Petersen
Occupying an area of some 25 acres, the gardens were established in Strawberry Canyon in 1928 on an open site previously occupied by dairy ranches. Defined by a mild climate, they rank with the world’s leading gardens in number of different plants, arranged according to their geographical origin and including a large area devoted to California native plants. $10
Strawberry Creek—Its Sources, led by Robin Freeman
The South Fork of Strawberry Creek, originating from underground sources and streamlets, flows out of Strawberry Canyon toward the Bay. Behind Memorial Stadium, off Centennial Drive, the walk through the canyon reveals some of the open creek resources and shows evidence of the many changes that have occurred to the natural environment over time. $10
Monument Hill Vista, led by Michael Kelly

The surrounding ridges of Strawberry Canyon offer views into the entire canyon as well as beyond out to the Golden Gate. The southern ridge offers a story of the nearly 200 years of impact to the canyon since the settlement of the Spanish, early 19th century farms, the University, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, respectively, and its survival as a wild area in the midst of urban growth. $10

A Farmers’ Market Barbeque
Haas Club House (Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons, 1959)
Strawberry Canyon Recreation Area
Friday, 10 August 2007
Starting at 7 pm

$30

All three events (choose one ramble) $50.
To reserve tickets, print and mail this form.

14 July 2007

Alameda Legacy Home Tour 2007


Walter Muller House (A.R. Denke, 1889)

Sunday, 23 September 2007
11 am–5 pm
Info & tickets: alameda-home-tour.org


This self-guided tour features the interiors and gardens of seven Victorian homes, including some of Alameda’s famous “Painted Ladies.” The tour is a fund-raiser for the Alameda Historical Museum and the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society.

Tickets are $20 per person in advance, $25 on the day of the tour. Advance tickets are available online at alameda-home-tour.org. On the day of the tour, tickets will be available at Franklin Park (at the intersection of Morton Street and San Antonio Avenue). For more information, call (510) 523-5907.

07 July 2007

Historic Japantowns of Berkeley
and Oakland


Oakland church (photo courtesy of Preserving California’s Japantowns)

Monday, 23 July 2007
12 pm–2 pm
Berkeley Methodist United Church
1710 Carleton Street


Preserving California’s Japantowns is the first statewide project to document historic resources of pre-World War II Japantowns. The initial task of the project was to identify Japanese American communities representative of the diverse regions, distinctive economic characteristics, and cultures features throughout the state. The initial phase involved reconnaissance surveys in 43 Japantown communities to identify historic buildings and landscapes associated with pre-WWII community.

Berkeley and Oakland were among the Bay Area communities selected for research, and surveys yielded a surprisingly high percentage of historic resources associated with Japanese American businesses, cultural institutions and community organizations.

The program on 23 July will include an overview of Preserving California’s Japantowns and highlights of the survey of historic Japanese American communities of Berkeley and Oakland. Community members are invited to bring historic photos that document community life. Local organizations will share brief summaries of their efforts to document Japanese American history through commemorative events, oral history projects, photo archives, or other activities.

26 June 2007

OHA Summer Walking Tours


Courtesy of Oakland Heritage Alliance

Oakland Heritage Alliance is offering its customary walking tours on Saturdays and Sundays during July, August, and September.

This year there are 21 tours, one offered twice.

See the complete tour schedule in our Events Calendar.

25 June 2007

Gifford McGrew House


Photo: Steven Finacom

One of Berkeley’s most important brown-shingle residences, the Gifford McGrew House was designed by Bernard Maybeck with ideas contributed by Charles Keeler and built by A.H. Broad in 1900.

Four years after it last sold, the house is on the market again. Steven Finacom took the opportunity to write an article about it for the Berkeley Daily Planet.

See an expanded version of the article, including more than 40 photographs, on in our Essays & Stories section.

05 June 2007

BAHA Preservation Awards 2007


Alpha Delta Phi Chapter House, 2401 Ridge Road (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2007)

BAHA’s annual Preservation Awards were presented to ten winners at our Membership Meeting on Thursday, 31 May. See the winning entries online.

04 June 2007

Pat Devaney


John Patrick Devaney, December 1919 – May 2007
(illustration: Martha Nicoloff)


The Board of Directors of the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association dedicated BAHA’s 33rd Annual Membership Meeting to the memory of Patrick Devaney in recognition of three decades of outstanding service on the Board of Directors (1976–2007); his leadership in the preservation and enhancement of neighborhoods and their character, specifically West Berkeley and Downtown; and his tireless energy as chair of BAHA’s Preservation Action Committee.

J. Patrick Devaney was born in Minneapolis, MN, in an era of strong social enlightenment, when Social Democrats were in the majority. This shaped his life.

Pat’s father, John P. Devaney, was one of the three most influential people in Minnesota politics during the Roosevelt years, a founding member of the National Lawyers’ Guild, and Chief Justice of the Minneapolis Supreme Court from 1933 to 1937. His mother, Beatrice, was a concert singer.

John P. Devaney passed away suddenly in 1941, when Pat was 22 years old. Pat’s mother passed away only a few years later.

Pat graduated in 1942 with a degree in Literature from the University of Minnesota. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Pat enlisted in the Naval Reserve. As captain of a gun crew on a Liberty ship during World War II, Pat saw combat in South Africa and the Mediterranean. After the war he returned to Minnesota for a time, then migrated to the Bay Area to attend law school at the University of California, San Francisco.

During the 1950s, Pat worked with the Red Cross and lived in San Francisco. There, in 1956, he met his wife, Kathleen. Sons Jack and Tim were born in 1960 and 1961. In the 1960s Pat worked with the non-profit group Self-Help for the Elderly in Chinatown. He was deeply involved in the struggle to save the International Hotel. Pat experienced first-hand the devastation that redevelopment had on San Francisco’s poorer residents and grew to hate it.

Pat and his family lived briefly in Sonoma County and Montclair in Oakland before moving to Berkeley’s Panoramic Hill in 1969. In Berkeley, Pat quickly became involved with city planning. He successfully worked on down-zoning the North Berkeley BART station that year. In 1970, there was a plan to widen city streets, including Hearst Avenue, and Pat was at the forefront of stopping the plan. Along with other BAHA members, Pat played a key role in saving the Naval Architecture Building on the U.C. campus.

Pat was involved with the Neighborhood Preservation Ordinance when it was adopted in the early 1970s. By the early 1980s, he was appointed to the Planning Commission. He could always be counted on to be a reliable ally to neighborhoods. He opposed the West Berkeley Industrial Park in the early 1970s and successfully opposed redevelopment in Ocean View.

In 1990–92, Pat was instrumental in getting Measure L- Save the Parks passed. He worked on controlling Pacific Steel Casting’s emissions in the early 1980s as a member of the Board of Adjustments.

The Downtown Plan was crafted during the 1980s. Pat knew Berkeley’s political dynamics and he inspired residents, planning staff, and politicians to appreciate and preserve Berkeley’s historic downtown buildings. He had a key role in setting a limit of five stories for the Downtown.

From 1989 to 2007, Pat served as editor of the CNA Newsletter to inform Berkeley citizens of “what’s coming down before it lands on them.” He was a passionate supporter of BAHA for over 25 years. Pat fought for Berkeley and for all of us. He will be sorely missed.

17 May 2007

Cal wins, historic neighborhood loses


The Foothill pedestrian bridge (Donald McDonald Architects)

After many years of community and city resistance, U.C. finally won its long-coveted pedestrian bridge over Hearst Avenue east of the La Loma intersection, connecting the two wings of the Foothill student housing complex.

Although many Berkeley residents and several city commissions were vehemently opposed to the bridge (both BAHA and the Daily Cal came out against it), the city council gave the project a conditional approval on 26 April 2005.

The council’s approval hinged on the following conditions:
  1. An improved bridge design is submitted and approved by the Public Works Director, in consultation with the Design Review Committee.

  2. Any detrimental effects on the immediate community are offset by contributing to specified pedestrian safety and public infrastructure improvements in the “Hearst Corridor,” in the amount of $200,000.

  3. All plan check comments and other technical issues are resolved to the satisfaction of the Public Works Director.

The deal was brokered by Public Works Director René Cardinaux, who retired later that year. By giving the final authority for approving the bridge design to the Public Works Director rather than to the Design Review Committee, the council paved the way for the mediocre bridge that is scheduled to be delivered to the campus in late May.

The Foothill Bridge architect is Donald McDonald, who also gave us the I-80 Pedestrian/Bicycle Overcrossing.

According to the Cal Neighbors Spring 2007 issue, installation of the steel bridge is expected to take one day.

09 May 2007

Spring House Tour Photo Gallery


Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2006

Did you miss BAHA’s Spring House Tour on Sunday? Visit our tour photo gallery and see what you missed.

Did you go on the tour? Visit the gallery to see who some of the other tourgoers were.

We have ten photo pages of tour goers and tour sights, plus three pages devoted to the houses and gardens.

05 May 2007

The fascinating history of Thousand Oaks


The Newell house, 1890 Yosemite Road at Indian Trail (courtesy of the Berkeley Historical Society)

A failed ballot measure to make Berkeley the state capital. A restless millionaire with a passion for mansions and rambling parks. A clutch of sons-in-law in the real estate business. Several elopements. Notable society figures. A headline-making divorce. Beautiful architecture among the rocks.

All the above and more are covered in three articles about the beginnings of Thousand Oaks, where BAHA’s Spring House & Garden Tour will take place tomorrow.

Read about Stephen and Victorine Sills, owners of Berkeley’s most fashionable grocery & hardware store, and their citadel-like home, Villa della Rocca. Mark Daniels, the flamboyant landscape engineer who laid out the tract before designing Seacliff, Forest Hill, the 17-Mile Drive at Pebble Beach, and Bel-Air in Los Angeles. And Thousand Oaks developer John Hopkins Spring, his two wives, eight children, and three spectacular estates.

09 April 2007

Another tree mishap


A falling tree branch knocked off one of the First Church’s trellises. (photo: Jerry Sulliger, 9 April 2007)

BAHA board member Jerry Sulliger just sent the photo above, showing a missing trellis on the easternmost column at the Dwight Way façade of the First Church of Christ, Scientist. A substantial branch, 10” in diameter, had fallen from the last remaining street Dutch Elm tree onto the church’s Board Room roof and knocked the trellis off its column.

According to Janet Homrighausen, secretary of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the City’s Parks Department received an emergency call this morning. City crews responded to the call and removed the branch from the roof.

The City’s Forestry Supervisor, Jerry Koch, examined the tree and determined that it has a large decay column extending into the branches and will need to be removed. Koch explained that the decay in this and many other street trees stems directly from the City’s ill-advised tree-topping program of 30 or more years ago, which rendered the trees vulnerable to disease and rot.


The same trellis three years ago. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

Before we turn green, let’s cut down some trees


The last tree comes crashing down at the Oxford parking lot... and smashes a portable toilet. (photo: Foster Goldstrom, 9 April 2007)


How it used to look. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 31 January 2007)

Three days ago, the David Brower Center became international news with an Associated Press report:
Berkeley Environmental Center Named for Famed Green Leader Brower

Berkeley, Calif. (15:14 PDT) -- Renowned wilderness advocate David Brower’s legacy is set to extend into the urban landscape as construction gets under way on a $75 million downtown environmental center bearing his name.

Contractors began laying the groundwork this week for the four-story David Brower Center, slated to house eco-conscious retailers and environmental non-profits.

The building, scheduled to open in 2009, will be built with a solar-cell roof and include a restaurant with a menu conceived by Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters.

Brower saw the Sierra Club’s membership grow from 2,000 to 77,000 under his leadership during the 1950s and 1960s. He led campaigns to establish 10 new national parks and founded Friends of the Earth, an environmental activist network now operating in 70 countries.

“We are elated, and my dad would be, too,” said Ken Brower. “At the very end of his life he got wind of this, and he was thrilled.”

David Brower, a Berkeley native, died in 2000 at 88.
Meanwhile, down on the ranch, workers this morning cut down every single tree on the Oxford lot. Foster Goldstrom, who documented them in action, paraphrased our city’s namesake, George Berkeley: “If a tree falls in Berkeley and no one is present to hear it, does it make a sound?”

In his Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, Berkeley concluded that it does not. Fortunately for us, there was someone there to hear, see, and report.


Good riddance. (photo: Foster Goldstrom, 9 April 2007)

22 March 2007

Custom wooden windows by robot


Custom window restoration for Amy Tan, Presidio Heights (courtesy of Wooden Window)

The 16 March issue of the San Francisco Business Times is carrying the story “Historic window builder goes high tech,” about Oakland-based Wooden Window.

The company has just installed a Computer Numerical Control robot wielding 33 woodworking tools. It can now manufacture high-precision custom windows and doors in record time.

Refurbishing eight doors for a Presidio Heights home would have taken a two-man crew three days. The new machine did the job in a few hours, making possible same-day removal, alteration, and re-installation.

Wooden Windows has restored windows at the Mission Library in San Francisco, the Alameda County courthouse, the Bentley School, the Mark Hopkins Hotel, and Hamilton Field. Recent jobs include the home of writer Amy Tan and the chancellor’s residence at the University of California, Berkeley.

15 March 2007

Berkeley High School Gym & Warm Water Pool


Olla Podrida, 1932

Urge the City to join the CEQA lawsuit

City Council special meeting
Thursday, 29 March
5:00 pm
2180 Milvia Street, 6th Floor, Redwood Conference Room


See agenda.

Support a Landmark designation for the BHS Gym and Warm Water Pool

Landmarks Preservation Commission
Thursday, 5 April 2007
7:30 pm
North Berkeley Senior Center


Send a letter of support and/or attend the LPC meeting of 5 April. Please send e-mails and letters by 28 March to the LPC’s secretary, Janet Homrighausen, JHomrighausen@ci.berkeley.ca.us, with a copy to Marie Bowman, mariebowman@pacbell.net.

More information in Preservation Discourse.

10 March 2007

Maybeck’s design laboratory


Annie, Wallen, and Bernard Maybeck at home on Grove Street, 1900 (Jacomena Maybeck: Maybeck, The Family View)

Bernard Maybeck’s first 14 years in Berkeley were spent in a home-made house he constructed in stages on the corner of Grove Street (now MLK Jr. Way) and Berryman Street. Assisting him in adding to the house were his architecture students, all of whom went on to brilliant careers.

Maybeck would apply the principles tried out in this domestic laboratory to his early private commissions, the first of which was the Charles Keeler house on Highland Place.

Eight years after the Maybecks bought their Grove Street property, Ben’s cousin John built a house for his own family a block to the south, at 1423 Grove.

The story of the two cousins is told here.

28 February 2007

Path Wanderers architectural tours

Saturday, 3 March, 10:00 am
Downtown Oakland, History and Architecture
Leader: Susan Schwartz


Explore the history and fascinating architecture of Oakland’s three downtowns: Victorian, Beaux Arts, and Art Deco, plus current revitalization. Meet at the below-street-level fountain just outside the 12th St. BART station. Walk ends at the 19th Street BART. This is a moderately paced, level walk. Wear comfortable shoes, bring drinks and snacks and dress in layers.

Wednesday, 7 March, 10:00 am
Architectural Tour of the U.C. Campus
Leader: Alan Kaplan


Learn about the Campanile, the Agricultural Quad, the Life Sciences Building, and much more. Meet at North Gate (Euclid and Hearst Avenues). Moderate pace with a few hills.

26 February 2007

Divining Beauty: The Swedenborgian Church and the Arts and Crafts Movement


Swedenborgian Church, San Francisco

GTU Hewlett Library
2400 Ridge Road, Berkeley
Exhibition: 22 February–31 May, 2007


The Swedenborgian Church of San Francisco (1894) had a profound impact on the American Arts & Crafts movement. This exhibition focuses on materials related to the church and its influence. Exhibits include paintings, prints, drawings, ceramics, textiles, books, and photographs.

13 February 2007

Tilden Park Carousel closed



Dan Horenberger announced today in Carousel News and Trader Magazine that the State of California has red-tagged the historic 1911 Herschell-Spillman carousel at Tilden Park after over 90 years of safe operation with no accidents.

Says Horenberger, “This is yet another in the long line of attacks by California’s DOSH (Division of Occupational Safety and Health) against the landmark carousels in the state. This ridiculous closure follows the numerous major alterations forced to be made to the antique carousels at Golden Gate Park, The San Francisco Zoo, Seaport Village in San Diego, Disneyland and many others in the state, all in the effort to try and make antique, historic carousels meet modern standards. This is destroying the original historic value of the carousels.

“This latest closure in Berkeley was due to the fact that the carousel operates without a fence. Never mind that in the 90-plus years of operation there has never been a problem, while fences have a long history of causing accidents. That doesn’t seem to matter, according to the state. Nor does destroying the layout of a historic building that just underwent a major restoration last year using tax payers’ dollars.”

Read the entire article.

Recently, the carousel was one of the grant recipients in the American Express/National Trust for Historic Preservation Partners in Preservation San Francisco Bay Area Initiative.

12 February 2007

Explore Strawberry Canyon with Ignacio Chapela


A view of Grizzly Peak from Canyon Road in Strawberry Canyon (postcard published by Edward H. Mitchell c. 1905)

Every Wednesday at 5 pm

Beginning on Valentine’s Day, Dr. Ignacio Chapela will lead public surveys of the perimeter of the wildscapes at stake in the next proposed steps for the filling of the Canyon by the LBL, now financed by British Petroleum.

Expert guests will weigh in on History, Biotech, Politics, Energy, Privatization of Public Spaces and Public Discourse, Ecology, Wildlife, Urbanization, Poetry and Music.

Meet at the Memorial Stadium Oak Grove. Bring weather-appropriate clothing. Additional walks will be offered on selected Sundays.

Contact: canyonwalks@gmail.com

11 February 2007

Brazilian music in architectural landmarks


The Hillside Club, Berkeley (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

Brazilian Origins at the Hillside Club

Carlos Oliveira, 7-string guitar
Mauro Correa, 7-string guitar
Harvey Wainapel, clarinet & saxophone
Claudio Bebianno, percussion

The Hillside Club
2286 Cedar Street
Berkeley, CA 94709


Friday, 16 February at 8:00 pm
Admission $15
($10 HSC members & seniors)

Info: (510) 845-1350

The repertoire will include compositions by Pixinguinha, Toninho Horta, Chico Buarque, Sivuca, Carlos Oliveira, and others.



Chapel of the Chimes, Oakland

Jazz at the Chimes: Claudia Villela & Ricardo Peixoto

Chapel of the Chimes
4499 Piedmont Avenue
Oakland, CA 94611


Sunday, 18 February at 2:00 pm
Admission $20
(includes reception)

Info: Mary (510) 228-3218

29 January 2007

The beauty of decay


Photo courtesy of hurleygurley

hurleygurley, an excellent photographer who displays her work on flickr, managed to infiltrate into the bowels of the vacant Flint Ink (formerly Cal Ink and a City of Berkeley Landmark) and shot haunting photos that evoke the poetry of abandoned places.

Well worth the visit.

27 January 2007

Professors to the rescue of trees


Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2007

Eighty years separate the two arboreal statements below. The poem (with a nod to Joyce Kilmer, W.H. Auden, Andrew Marvell, and Ogden Nash) was read by retired English professor Peter Dale Scott at the Memorial Stadium oak grove celebration last Saturday, 20 January, and again during Dona Spring’s birthday party at the Hillside Club on Tuesday, 23 January.

Call to Chancellor Birgeneau
(Peter Dale Scott)

I think that I shall never see
A
touchdown lovely as a tree.
1
It’s great to watch kids play a game
Big Money makes it not the same.
And where Big Money is the rule
A school forgets it is a school;
Till Time, indifferent in a week
To a beautiful physique,
2
Will judge those schools that went to Hell
As farm teams for the NFL,
Annihilating what we made
Of a green thought in a green shade.
3
The health of a society is tested
When gentle people get arrested.
Good God! I never thought to see
Poets arrested in a tree.
But, folks, if you don’t heed this call
You may not see this tree at all.
4

1. Joyce Kilmer: “Trees
2. W.H. Auden: “In Memory of W. B. Yeats
3. Andrew Marvell: “The Garden
4. Ogden Nash: “Song of the Open Road


The article below speaks for itself. It was published in the Oakland Tribune on 15 December 1926. The professor quoted was the great Willis Jepson, founder of the Jepson Herbarium. Jepson was a charter member of the Sierra Club and a resident of Panoramic Hill. His house, designed by Julia Morgan in 1925, overlooks Memorial Stadium. Note that eighty years ago, the leader of the committee to save the Point Lobos trees was none other than real-estate developer Duncan McDuffie, another lifelong member of the Sierra Club.



Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

P.S. My favorite ditty on this topic was composed by U.C. Berkeley students and chanted during a demonstration on Friday, 12 January, after campus cops staged a pre-dawn raid on the oak grove, evicting the ground support crew and confiscating their possessions:
Hey, ho, Birgeneau
You say “Chop!”
We say “No!”


22 January 2007

Three wise women in a tree


Shirley Dean, Betty Olds & Sylvia McLaughlin spent an hour in an oak tree to protest UC’s plans to cut down the oak grove. (photo: Daniella Thompson)

Former Berkeley mayor Shirley Dean (71), Councilmember Betty Olds (86), and Save the Bay founder Sylvia McLaughlin (90) joined the Save the Oaks at Memorial Stadium tree sitters at 11:30 this morning when they climbed a ladder to a tree platform, where they remained for an hour.

The three wise women called on the university to set a better example to its students and practice what it preaches. They vowed to continue the protest until the university abandons its plans to cut down the oak grove. Shirley and Betty joined the new orgnization U.C. Alumni for the Oaks.

Watch a video of the occasion.

Many prominent Berkeleyans and the media turned out for the event.


Photo: Daniella Thompson