22 September 2008

BAHA fall lectures

All lectures begin at 7:30 pm and are held at the
Hillside Club
2286 Cedar Street
Berkeley, CA 94709

Ocean View Historic District (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

Thursday, 16 October 2008
Preservation Works!
Free event!
How the Berkeley community was able to save architectural and cultural treasures, and what we need to do to ensure that we will be able to save others in the future. Panelists for this illustrated talk include Susan Cerny, Stephanie Manning, Arlene Silk, Marie Bowman, and others. Donations to No on Measure LL will be gratefully accepted.

Alameda County Courthouse before and after the 1868 Earthquake
(photos courtesy of San Leandro Public Library & the Bancroft Library, U.C. via USGS)

Thursday, 30 October 2008
Richard Schwartz: East Bay Stories of the 1868 Hayward Fault Earthquake
21 October 2008 marks the 140th anniversary of the last “Big One” on the Hayward Fault, one of the most destructive in California history. USGS scientists describe this fault as a tectonic time bomb, due anytime for another magnitude 6.8-to-7.0 earthquake. Historian Richard Schwartz’s lecture will include first-hand accounts by people who experienced the shock, little-known facts about the quake, what the people learned from the quake, and a survey of buildings that survived the 1868 earthquake and are still standing. Tickets $15

Thursday, 13 November 2008
Hannah Sigur: The Influence of Japanese Art on Design
An illuminating examination of Japanese art and America’s journey to modern architecture and design in the Gilded Age, from the Centennial of 1876 through the Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904. Tickets $15

To order tickets, send a check made out to BAHA and a stamped, self-addressed envelope to:
Fall Lectures
P.O. Box 1137
Berkeley, CA 94701

You can also pay for tickets by credit card via PayPal. Please specify lectures date[s] and number of tickets in the Description field.

05 September 2008

The end for Memorial Grove

Photo: Daniella Thompon, 5 September 2008

02 September 2008

Preservation news around town

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

From the Summer 2008 edition of the BAHA Newsletter:

Strawberry Canyon

The scenic vista of Strawberry Canyon, a swath of green open space, is threatened by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s 20 year plan to further develop its hillside location. The proposed construction of nearly one million gross square feet of new buildings in both Strawberry Canyon and Blackberry canyons includes the recently announced 140,000-gsf Helios Energy Research Facility and a 50-car parking lot planned for undeveloped land within Strawberry Canyon. Instead of using the existing Blackberry Gate entrance at the top of Hearst Avenue, an additional entry road would be built from centennial Drive in Strawberry Canyon These planned encroachments threaten the historical balance between research and development activities in the Berkeley hills and less intense activities with smaller footprints. 

Strawberry Canyon should be designated a Cultural Landscape for its historical connections to (among other events) Frederic Law Olmsted’s writings about the canyon and his vision of residential life in Berkeley; the headwaters and the system of engineered water resources during the University’s early years; the tradition of tree plantations in memory of University luminaries (e.g., the groves dedicated to Stephen Mather and Woodbridge Metcalf); the University Botanical Garden; the development of the East Bay Regional Park District; and the creation of the University’s Ecological Study Area. Earlier generations expressed their aesthetic, social, recreation, biological, and academic values in the canyon, which live on today in this culturally significant landscape.

Memorial Stadium oak grove (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2007)

Oak Grove

Speculation about Native American burial grounds and memorials to World War I soldiers aside, the oak grove west of Memorial Stadium is a contributing feature in the stadium’s landmark designation (listed in the National Register of Historic Places, 2006). The application submitted by BAHA includes two basic resources: the stadium itself and its site (including the rock walls and the grove). The stadium’s original “oak grove” landscaping visually connects the site to such pre-development landscape features still found in Strawberry Canyon as the oak-bay woodland on the north-facing slope and the riparian ecosystem of Strawberry Creek. The oaks also gracefully screen residential Piedmont Avenue, designed by Frederic Law Olmsted, from the massive stadium structure.

The proposed North Shattuck Safeway


Safeway’s proposal to replace their vintage supermarkets with larger “lifestyle stores” has been in the news. This will be the second “makeover” for the venerable local retailer, the first being the replacement of their small 1930s stores, beginning in the 1950s, with the present low, suburban-style supermarkets, designed by none other than the firm of Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons (see image). Berkeley’s lone Safeway store, 1400 Shattuck Avenue, with its expanse of glass, curved front gable, and blue mosaic tile, was built in 1965 and will be affected by the new plan. Now that you know that the building is the work of a major Bay Area architect, you may want to give it a second, more critical look.

Armstrong College (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

Armstrong College

Berkeley’s Judah L. Magnes Museum, owner of the downtown Armstrong College Building (Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr., 1926, Landmark #184), 2222 Harold Way, recently presented renovation plans to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. This will be the new home of the museum, now located at 2911 Russell Street. Plans call for the removal of Ratcliff’s distinctive front door, a change that is under the LPC’s purview, and which was approved at the 10 July meeting. Also indicated on the plans is the almost complete removal of the interior (except for the second floor auditorium). This major loss of historic fabric is not subject to LPC review, as interiors of privately owned structures are not protected by landmark designation.