|City of Berkeley Municipal Rose Garden|
The hills are live with arts & crafts era residences
GUEST BLOG / By Thomas Shess--Architectural tourists focusing on the San Francisco East Bay Area only need a few signposts to launch self-guided tours of Oakland and Berkeley’s popular, hilly and more unsung historic Arts & Crafts landmarks.
Cognoscenti of important early 20th century Arts & Crafts design in the San Francisco East Bay readily acknowledge the dominance of period architects such as Julia Morgan, Bernard Maybeck and John Galen Howard. These three giants called the Oakland/Berkeley side of the bay home. While the world has bestowed laurel upon laurel on Morgan’s (Hearst Castle), Maybeck’s Palace of Fine Arts and Howard’s UC Berkeley campus and Sather, Arch, Gate and Tower), an avid corps of historically minded East Bay individuals, like history activist/lecturer Tim Hansen and organizations like the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Assn. (BAHA), remind us there are more unsung Arts & Crafts landmarks by the “Big Three” and others worthy of a visit.
Boots on the ground. Invention is your guide here as there are no wrong paths to take as you fan out in all directions to view the extant variety of styles within the genre. Most examples here are drive-by viewable but more can be explorable by foot or bike along these curb-less, tree-lined narrow roads.
Ardent preservationists and garden buffs like conservationist Charlie Bowen point out many groups offer local history and garden tours/walks. Two good sources of parks and history walks in the East Bay are the Berkeley Path Wanderers: www.berkeleypaths.org. and John Steare, President of the Berkeley Partners for Parks, www.bpfp.org
For now, let’s take Ms. Bowen’s pick by starting at the (North) Berkeley Rose Garden (1200, Euclid Ave.) The Rose Garden’s terraced amphitheater and 220-foot-long redwood pergola were suggested by architect Bernard Maybeck; the final design and execution were the work of landscape architect Vernon M. Dean and rose specialist C. V. Covell.
Today the garden offers a why-you-came view of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge and is home to 250 types of roses found on more than 3,000 bushes. While the public Rose Garden isn’t distinctively Arts & Crafts (WPA-ed in mid-1930s), the surrounding Berkeley Hills ‘hoods certainly are.
Literally the East Bay hills are alive with the sights of Craftsman design. Nearby lanes are prolifically dotted by homes and enclaves designed by the prominent architects of the era. For a must-read study of what these historic architects created see Berkeley Architect Heritage’s website and detailed landmark guide: CLICK HERE.
|Rose Walk is Berkeley’s only pedestrian |
pathway where the buildings were
designed to create an ensemble
with the planned development.”
|William Colby House|
La Loma is just one of countless nooks and crannies of inspired period homes tucked into the hills. Finding more on your own is your reward. Around the Campus. If you follow La Loma or Euclid Avenues south you’ll reach the University of California/Berkeley.
|Faculty Club by architect Frederick Law Olmstead|
As you enjoy a stroll through the main campus (designed initially by U.S. icon architect Frederick Law Olmsted), stop by the Faculty Club. This remarkable example of the Arts & Crafts style was designed in 1903 by a collaboration of architects, including Maybeck and Howard. It has been lovingly restored by dedicated period preservationists and currently is in a fundraising mode to do more. Phyllis Brooks Schafer, an area Arts & Crafts aficionado, and former Faculty Club board member of the notes for a keen close up look of the club and grounds, the private club’s restaurant and hotel facilities are open to the public.
|Thorsen House by Architects Greene & Greene|
Another A&C church, which genesised as the First Unitarian Church by architect Albert C. Schweinfurth (a peer of Maybeck and San Francisco’s icon architect Willis Polk at A. Page Brown’s famed design firm in the City), is now a campus drama/arts dance studio at 2401 Bancroft Way (below).
Down from Tilden Park, Oakland’s venerable 1913 Chick residence is about to celebrate its 100th anniversary. One of its owners Foster Goldstrom gets credit for giving this classic example of Arts & Crafts design the loving care it deserves. The Chick House isn't super visible, it's high up the hill from its frontage on Chabot Road and can be viewed somewhat from above from Roble Road. The owner often opens the house for events, but not for unannounced lookee-lous. Nonetheless, as the photos show, the Chick residence is a remarkable example of Bernard Maybeck’s expertise as a residential architect and developer.