20 November 2017

BAHA Holiday Open House

Photo: Anthony Bruce

Thursday, 14 December 2017
4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Join us for holiday cheer and light refreshments at the historic McCreary-Greer House.

Meet and chat with our Executive Director, Anthony Bruce, and BAHA board members.

Browse our bookshop for attractive and educational holiday gifts.

We look forward to seeing you and your guests!

26 September 2017

The 2017 BAHA Preservation Awards

The Blood (left) & Woolley Houses (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2017)

Nine rehabilitation projects received our 2017 Preservation Awards. See them here.

21 September 2017

Treasure Island Museum lecture & tour of Admiral Nimitz House

Eastern Span of old Bay Bridge and Nimitz House (courtesy of NoeHill.com)

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Lecture: 10:30 am
Building One, Room 111
Treasure Island

Tour: 12:00 pm
Nimitz House
Yerba Buena Island

Free of charge

Lecture: Midway 1942: Time for a Command Decision
Speaker: Michael Svanevik, Professor of History Emeritus, College of San Mateo

After Pearl Harbor and other breathtaking military victories, Japan was intoxicated with feelings of invincibility. In June 1942, enemy forces maneuvered toward American-held Midway. Brilliant naval intelligence and the steadfast determination of Admiral Chester Nimitz altered the tempo of war, crippling invaders and taking to the offensive in the Pacific.

Tours of Nimitz House: Rear Admiral John Bitoff, USN (ret), who lived in the house as Commander, Naval Base San Francisco in 1989–1991, will give an introductory talk and lead participants on a tour through the house. Built in 1900, the Classic Revival mansion is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

For additional information, see the Treasure Island Museum website.

04 September 2017

The Berkeley Shellmound Fall 2017 lecture series

Ohlone Indians in a Tule Boat on San Francisco Bay, by Louis Choris, 1816, published 1822

The Hillside Club
2286 Cedar Street
Berkeley, CA 94709
All lectures begin at 7:00 pm

Tickets $15; $40 for the series
Order tickets here.

There is evidence of human habitation in Berkeley as long as 5,700 years ago. The Berkeley area’s first residents were Ohlone Lisjan native people; their descendants still live in this area. The West Berkeley Shellmound—a City of Berkeley Landmark—is the oldest known of hundreds of shellmound sites around San Francisco Bay. For nearly six thousand years, people have chosen Berkeley as a place to live.

In the late 19th- and early 20th centuries, the above-ground portions of the Berkeley Shellmound were demolished, and streets and developments were laid over a good part of the site. However, much history and culture remains underground; previously unknown native burials were discovered as recently as 2016 along Fourth Street. One square block remains undeveloped, bounded by Fourth Street, Hearst Avenue, University Avenue, and the railroad tracks. A major commercial/housing/parking garage project is currently proposed for that block, and going through the City’s review processes.

Thursday, 26 October 2017, 7:00 pm
Archaeology and Mapping the Shellmounds

Brian F. Byrd, Ph.D., a prehistorian and archaeologist specializing in the Bay Area shellmounds, and R. Scott Byram, P.h.D., an archaeologist and the author of Triangulating Archaeological Landscapes, will talk about the importance of the shellmounds in the mapmaking efforts of the U.S. Coast Survey more than a century-and-a-half ago.

Thursday, 2 November 2017, 7:00 pm
The Native Perspective

Ohlone leaders Corrina Gould, Ruth Orta, and Vincent Medina will present a panel discussion on the ancient ancestral West Berkeley Shellmound site.

Thursday, 9 November 2017, 7:00 pm
Land Trusts, Conservancies and Cultural Easements as Tools for Preservation

This panel will include Johnella LaRose and Corrina Gould from Sogorea Te’ Land Trust, speaking on their experience with cultural easements. Cory Wilkins will describe the work of The Archaeological Conservancy. We have also invited the Trust for Public Land.

Photo courtesy of the Nels Nelson Archive, American Museum of Natural History

The series is sponsored by the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, Indian People Organizing for Change, California Institute for Community, Art and Nature & Earth Island Institute’s Sacred Land Film Project.

Come see us at the Solano Stroll

The BAHA booth will be located at 1741 Solano Avenue, on the north side of the street, near Ensenada Avenue.

08 July 2017

Charles H. Spear House designated a landmark

Charles H. Spear House (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2017)

The Charles H. Spear House is one of the most notable and elegant Colonial Revival residences in Berkeley. Constructed in 1904, the building is remarkably intact, retaining a very high degree of its historic fabric and detail. Among the building’s significant features are a symmetrical façade; a cornice decorated with molded corbels and egg-and-dart molding; a central dormer with arched window; a pair of oval portholes set in wide, molded casings and ornamented with medallions and elaborate scrollwork; a central portico with a circular canopy decorated with dentils and egg-and-dart molding, supported by two round columns with Ionic capitals and flanked by two pilasters, also with Ionic capitals; and two large triple-window bays set in wide, molded casings and surmounted by arch pediments ornamented with dentils and scrollwork.

Charles Henry Spear (1862–1928) was a well-known political figure in the State of California. He began his political career in 1884 as Assistant Postmaster of West Berkeley, rising to Postmaster in 1885. He served as Berkeley’s City Clerk from 1886 to 1893 and was elected Alameda County Recorder in 1894. In 1900, he was appointed Port Warden in San Francisco. In 1902, Spear acted as chairman of the state’s Republican Campaign Committee, and in 1903, Governor George C. Pardee made him president of the State Board of Harbor Commissioners. His term coincided with the 1906 Earthquake and Fire, and Spear received high praise from Commander Charles J. Badger, U.S. Navy, for restoring “normal business conditions in the shipping district in the shortest possible time.”

In 1923, Spear was reappointed president of the State Board of Harbor Commissioners, this time by Governor Friend W. Richardson. Resigning from that position in 1925, Spear became general manager of Los Angeles Harbor, remaining in that office until 1927, when ill health forced him to retire and return to Berkeley, where he passed away the following year.

The architect of the Spear House has not been identified, but the builder was well known in both building and political circles. As a contractor, Robert Greig (1861–1931) was Berkeley’s premier practitioner, constructing some of the city’s most prominent buildings, including City Hall (1908); the first public library (1904, demolished); Berkeley High School’s main building (1901, demolished); the Masonic Temple (2105 Bancroft Way, 1905); and the Barker Block (2486 Shattuck Avenue, 1905).

Like Charles Spear, Robert Greig was prominent in the Republican Party. In 1915, he was appointed as Berkeley’s Building Inspector, and in 1924 he became Director of Housing for the State of California. “He was a recognized authority on building codes, and many of his suggestions were incorporated in the State Building Law and in housing regulations,” stated his obituary.

When the Charles H. Spear House was built, the neighborhood north of Berkeley Way was purely residential, composed of Victorians and Colonial Revival houses. The area’s character persisted largely unaltered until the 1950s, when large, boxy apartment buildings began to replace many historic houses.

In the 1960s, BART acquired and removed the houses along five and a half blocks on the north side of Hearst Avenue between Milvia Street and Sacramento Street. Concurrently, commercial establishments began replacing some of the houses along Grove Street. These days, the east side of the 1800 block and the west side of the 1900 block of M.L. King, Jr. Way are composed entirely of commercial buildings, making the Spear House a rare and noteworthy reminder of the street as it used to be a century ago.

The landmark application is accessible online.

26 June 2017

The real story behind the “Morning Glory House”

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2007

The Stick Style house at 2009 Berkeley Way was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark in 1979 under the name Joseph Clapp Cottage, although Clapp neither built it nor owned it, and had never lived in it.

What is the real story behind this house? Read it here.

09 June 2017

2017 House Tour photo gallery

Photo: Anthony Bruce

See photos shot on the day of the John Hudson Thomas & Friends in Claremont Park House Tour.

27 May 2017

An Enchanted Evening to benefit Good Shepherd Church

Sunday, 25 June 2017
5:00 pm
Selden Williams House (Julia Morgan, 1922–28)
2821 Claremont Blvd, Berkeley
Advance tickets: $30 via Eventbrite
At the door: $40

The Good Shepherd Church invites you to enjoy the wonders of the glorious Selden Williams mansion and a wonderful concert by the critically acclaimed soprano Shauna Fallihee and pianist Randall Benway.

The evening’s enchantments include:

  • Mozart arias
  • Appetizers and wine
  • A silent auction

All funds raised will support the Good Shepherd Pan de Cielo feeding ministries: the Monday sandwich ministry, the Friday hot lunches and food pantry, and more!

For further information, please see the Good Shepherd website.

Visit us at the Bay Area Book Festival

Photo: Steven Finacom

Saturday & Sunday
3 & 4 June 2017
Berkeley Civic Center

Look for the joint BAHA/Berkeley Historical Society booth on Allston Way, in front of the Berkeley Community Theatre and across from Civic Center Park.

We will offer dozens of titles of history and fiction about Berkeley, including many hard-to-find or out-of-print BAHA and BHS publications.

Authors will be on hand to sign their books.

16 May 2017

Annual Membership Meeting & Preservation Awards Presentation

Thursday, 25 May 2017
The Hillside Club
2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley

6:30 Social Hour — no-host wine bar
7:00 Buffet Dinner ($40 by reservation)*
7:30 Business Meeting and Election of Officers & Directors
Free coffee & dessert for all
8:00 Preservation Awards Presentation

Buffet Menu
Salmon Sautéed in Fresh Herbs with Cucumber Dill Relish
Whole Pepper Flanksteak with Cognac Sauce
Swiss Chard & Sweet Onion Ravioli
Roasted Asparagus
Chopped Romaine with Toasted Walnuts, Red Onions and Blue Cheese Dressing
Arugula, Roasted Beet & Goat Cheese Salad with Lemon Chive Vinaigrette
Farro Salad with Meyer Lemon, Herbs & Carrots
Yellow Beans & Blue Lake Beans Salad with Shaved Asiago
French Bread (donated by Acme Baking Company)

* Dinner will be provided by Mediterraneo Catering. If you wish to order dinner, please purchase tickets online and include the names of your guests.

For further information, call (510) 841-2242 or e-mail to baha@berkeleyheritage.com.

Slate of BAHA Officers and Directors for FY 2017–18

President: Steven Finacom
Vice-President: Leila H. Moncharsh
Secretary: Carrie Olson
Treasurer: Stephanie Manning

Directors at Large

  • Jane Edginton
  • Mariana Gallardo
  • Neysa Garrett
  • James Grandison
  • Ann Killebrew
  • Michael McCutcheon
  • Neale McGoldrick
  • Jane McKinne-Mayer
  • Arlene Silk
  • 27 March 2017

    Richard Schwartz launches new book with multiple events

    Builders Booksource presents

    A walking tour of the Peralta Park neighborhood

    Led by Richard Schwartz

    Saturday, 29 April 2017
    1:00 pm
    1316 Albina Avenue
    Berkeley, CA 94706

    Tickets: $20, or $10 with book purchase
    Reservations: (510) 845-6874

    Historian Richard Schwartz is marking the release of his latest book, The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty: The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M.B. Curtis (RSB Books, April 2017), with a walking tour of Peralta Park, the North Berkeley subdivision developed by Maurice B. Curtis, the actor who made his name as “Sam’l of Posen” and who built the fabled Peralta Park Hotel.

    The author’s additional book-launch events in Berkeley:

    Saturday, 8 April 2017
    Public Book Launch Party
    Program & Book Signing
    5:00 pm–7:00 pm
    Berkeley Public Library/North Branch
    1170 The Alameda
    Berkeley, CA 94707

    Wednesday, 12 April 2017
    Talk & Book Signing
    7:30 pm
    Pegasus Books
    1855 Solano Avenue
    Berkeley, CA 94707

    Thursday, 18 May 2017
    Author’s Night
    7:00 pm
    Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association
    Thousand Oaks Baptist Church
    1821 Catalina Avenue
    Berkeley, CA 94707

    Saturday, 22 July 2017
    Program & Book Signing
    1:00 pm
    Berkeley Central Public Library
    2090 Kittredge Street (at Shattuck)
    Berkeley, CA 94704

    04 March 2017

    BAHA 2017 Spring House Tour

    Announcing our 42nd Spring House Tour and
    Garden Reception

    Sunday, May 7, 2017
    1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

    Tour map, illustrated guidebook & refreshments provided
    General $45; BAHA members $35

    This year’s tour focuses on Claremont Park, the elegant, leafy neighborhood developed by Duncan McDuffie and laid out to conform to the existing topography, celebrating the creeks, oaks, and gentle slopes to create a setting for well-designed residences.

    Open on the tour will be several exceptional houses designed by John Hudson Thomas between 1911 and 1914—the architect’s most daring and creative period. Also featured will be neighboring houses designed by top Bay Area architects, including Bernard Maybeck, Julia Morgan, Albert Farr, Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr., and Harris C. Allen.

    Tour goers will also have the opportunity to visit several glorious creekside gardens.

    For complete information and tickets, see the House Tour page.

    02 February 2017

    Captain Slater House designated a landmark

    Captain Slater House (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2016)

    The Captain John Slater House at 1335 Shattuck Avenue was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark on 2 February 2017. The Slater House is one of the finest 19th-century residential buildings surviving in Berkeley. It is the only building in Berkeley known to have been designed by the distinguished architect Thomas J. Welsh (1845–1918), who designed many Catholic churches and public school buildings in San Francisco.

    Constructed in 1894, the Captain Slater House appears to be the earliest Colonial Revival–style building in Berkeley. The house retains its symmetrical façade with practically all its original features intact, including a pediment-gabled dormer; wide entablatures decorated with dentils; Tuscan-order columns, fluted pilasters, and classic double-urn balustrades; bay windows with diamond panes; a wood-paneled entrance niche; beveled glass in the front doors and the transom; and the original street retaining-wall and twin curved stairways.

    The first owner, Captain John Slater (1849–1908), was a well-known master mariner in the employ of shipping tycoons William E. Mighell and Charles C. Boudrow, who made their homes a few blocks away on Oxford Street. In the mid-1890s, Captain Slater set several speed records in the broad-beam bark Wilna. Later he commanded the clipper ship Charmer on the San Francisco-Honolulu route and also made longer trips to Australia and South Africa.

    Captain Slater’s youngest son, Colby E. “Babe” Slater (1896–1965), who was born in this house, was the first University of California, Davis alumnus to win an Olympic gold medal. He earned two gold medals as a member of the 1920 and 1924 U.S. Olympic Rugby teams and was captain of the 1924 team. “Babe” was the earliest athlete to be inducted into the Cal Aggie Hall of Fame. In 2012, he was inducted into the U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame and the World Rugby Hall of Fame. The annual Colby E. “Babe” Slater Memorial Athletic Award and the “Babe” Slater Perpetual Athletic Trophy are given each spring to the U.C. Davis student selected as Athlete of the Year. On 30 July 2016, the U.C. Davis Library held a special celebration of “Babe” Slater’s legacy, marking the first time since 1924 that rugby was played in the Olympic Games.

    In the early 1920s, the Captain Slater House became the home of former Berkeley mayor Samuel C. Irving (1858–1930), who lived here until his death.

    When it was built, the Captain Slater House joined the earlier Captain Seabury House (1322 Shattuck Avenue, demolished) and the Captain Maury House (1317 Shattuck Avenue, greatly altered) to form a close-knit enclave of famous sea captains’ residences. The Captain Slater House is now the only historic sea captain’s house surviving on this block with its intact original façade, as well as the only recognizable 19th-century house on the block.

    The Stained Glass Art of Bruce Porter

    Artistic License presents

    The Stained Glass Art of Bruce Porter

    An illustrated lecture by Theodore Ellison

    Wednesday, 1 March 2017
    7:00 pm
    Hillside Club
    2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley

    Suggested donation $10 general; $5 Hillside Club members

    Bruce Porter (1865–1953) is perhaps best known for the stained-glass windows at the Swedenborgian Church in San Francisco and the formal gardens he designed at Filoli. A true Renaissance man, Porter was at the center of Bay Area cultural life at the turn of the 20th century. This talk, by Oakland based glass artist Theodore Ellison, will cover the artistry and timeline of Bruce Porter’s first career as a stained-glass artist. Found in churches, private homes, and exclusive clubs around California, this is a comprehensive look at Porter’s glasswork and will present the context and artistic influences that inspired his unique approach to the craft.

    Artistic License is a group of skilled professional artisans dedicated to historic architectural restoration and newly interpreted period design. Working in the tradition of historic artisan guilds, Artistic License members provide a wide range of services and products from architectural design and building restoration to period furnishings and fine finishes.

    Susan Cerny Memorial Issue

    The Winter 2017 BAHA Newsletter is a memorial issue for our recently departed board member and leading preservationist Susan Cerny. Visit our website to access the Newsletter’s online edition

    27 January 2017

    Winter 2017 Lecture Series

    All lectures will take place at the Hillside Club,
    2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley.

    Tickets: $15 per lecture, $40 for the series
    Purchase tickets by mail or online

    Telegraph Avenue north of Bancroft Way, 1938

    Telegraph Avenue: Past, Present, and Is There a Future?

    Thursday, 16 February 2017
    7:30 pm

    Speaker: Tom Dalzell

    Telegraph Avenue is Berkeley’s most storied street, an iconic district that goes back to the dedication of the Berkeley campus in the 1860s and that gained international attention in the 1960s. The businesses, buildings, people, and events associated with Telegraph Avenue are a fundamental part of Berkeley history. But much of that legacy is threatened and endangered.

    Join us for an illustrated talk looking back at the rich, and quirky, history of Telegraph Avenue, from the “lost block” that once extended north from Bancroft Way to Sather Gate and housed a horde of collegiate businesses to “The Village” at Blake and Telegraph, a “Hippie modern” restaurant and shop complex that still survives, albeit precariously.

    Your energetic guide will be Tom Dalzell, creator of the popular Quirky Berkeley website, author, labor lawyer, and internationally known expert on slang. BAHA President Steven Finacom will also provide a brief perspective on the preservation and development challenges facing Telegraph Avenue in the present.

    Copies of Dalzell’s most recent book, Quirky Berkeley, will be available for purchase and signing after the talk.

    Wedding chapel for the Claremont Hotel by Frank Lloyd Wright (FLW Archive)

    Frank Lloyd Wright in the Bay Area

    Thursday, 9 March 2017
    7:30 pm

    Speaker: Paul V. Turner

    Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) often spent time in San Francisco, which he called “the most charming city in America.” Between about 1900 and 1959, Wright designed roughly 30 projects in the Bay Area, a third of which were built. They included houses, a gift shop, a civic center, a skyscraper, a church, an industrial building, a mortuary, a bridge across the San Francisco Bay, and a wedding chapel for the Claremont Hotel. The unbuilt structures are among Wright’s most innovative, and the diverse reasons for their failure counter long-held stereotypes about the architect.

    Paul V. Turner is Wattis Professor of Art, Emeritus, at Stanford University, and author of Frank Lloyd Wright and San Francisco (Yale University Press, 2016). Turner trained as an architect and art historian, and has written extensively on architecture, including the book Campus, an American Planning Tradition (M.I.T. Press, 1984).

    Copies of Frank Lloyd Wright and San Francisco will be available for purchase and signing after the talk.

    An early, unrealized design for the El Cerrito BART station by Vernon DeMars (Vernon DeMars Collection, U.C. Berkeley Environmental Design Archives)

    When Architects and Artists Had Big Dreams for BART

    Thursday, 30 March 2017
    7:30 pm

    Speaker: Dave Weinstein

    Back in the mid-1960s, planners envisioned a rapid transit system that would link the entire Bay Area, with stations in Napa, Fairfield, Santa Rosa, Brentwood, Livermore, Campbell, San Jose, and Los Altos, among other spots. Every station was to have art. BART’s architects hoped that the new system would not only provide transportation but aid in “controlling and directing future urban growth and development, and [...] upgrading economically and physically depressed and stagnant sections of the urban complex.”

    What happened to BART’s art and architecture, and to those dreams?

    Dave Weinstein has researched and written extensively about Bay Area architecture, design and history, including the books Signature Architects of the Bay Area, It Came From Berkeley: How Berkeley Changed the World, and the text for Berkeley Rocks: Building With Nature. He is a leader in historic preservation and history projects in El Cerrito.

    18 January 2017

    Allen Stross passes away

    Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2008

    We are saddened to learn that Allen Stross, one of Berkeley’s iconic residents and a longtime friend of BAHA and the Berkeley Historical Society, passed away this afternoon. He was 93 years old.

    For many years, Allen was a regular fixture at BAHA’s house tours, and until a decade ago he acted as our tour photographer.

    According to an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle three years ago, “Allen Stross of Berkeley started working at age 13. He’s been a delivery boy, a sign painter, a Navy sailor and a photographer for the Detroit Free Press. Now, at age 90, he and his wife live on about $21,000 a year. After they pay for rent and medications, they're left with just $416 a month.”

    While living in Detroit in the 1960s and ’70s, Allen taught photography courses and contributed photographs to the Historic American Buildings Survey, housed in the Library of Congress.

    The photo above shows Allen on a BHS walking tour of the McGee-Spaulding-Hardy District.

    13 January 2017

    Building Berkeley: a lecture at the Berkeley City Club

    The Berkeley City Club Presents

    Building Berkeley: Bernard Maybeck, John Galen Howard, Julia Morgan, and the U.C. Berkeley Campus.

    An illustrated lecture by Prof. Margaretta Lovell

    Tuesday, 7 February 2017
    6 pm
    Berkeley City Club
    2315 Durant Avenue, Berkeley

    Members $5; general $10; tickets via Eventbrite

    Margaretta Lovell, Professor of American Art and Architecture at U.C. Berkeley, will discuss the history of the major Berkeley campus buildings. Among other topics, her lecture will cover the origins of college campuses; how the Berkeley campus location was determined; the Organic Act of 1868 that created the University of California; how the Stanford campus influenced Phoebe Apperson Hearst; the Hearst International Competition for the design of the U.C. campus and the architects who submitted plans; how the Hearst Memorial Mining Building survived the 1906 earthquake; original plan for the Campanile; and Julia Morgan’s campus designs.