BAHA Preservation Awards 2008

Part Three


Cole House (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2008)

Alfred & Rebecca Cole House
1941 Vine Street
(architect unknown, 1888–89)

This Victorian began life as the home of a Southern Pacific railroad conductor and his wife, who were first listed at this address in 1889. The Coles were childless. Following the death of Rebecca Cole, Alfred shared his home with brother George, a Southern Pacific brakeman, and his wife Almira. The two were still living here in 1930, after Alfred had died. The original address was 1943 Vine Street.

During the 1940s, the house was divided into five apartments. The current owners set about to restore it to single-family use, with the husband acting as contractor. The top-to-bottom project took six years to complete and included a reconstructed porch and exterior front steps.

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2008

Inside, several small rooms were opened up. The living room flows into the dining room, the staircase is situated to the side of the dining room, which flows into the kitchen at the rear of the house. An office with bay window leads off the dining room, and a sitting room is to the left as one enters the house. Both these rooms can be closed off with doors. One of the main features of the living room is a tiled, off-center, fireplace. Glassed-in bookcases and a window seat complete the wall.

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2008

Beyond the dining room is a 1940s bungalow-style kitchen, enhanced with a red-and-white checkered linoleum floor, red glass-bead lamp shades, and red trim on the cabinets. The custom-built staircase adds a dramatic feature to the main floor; the newel posts were salvaged from a razed building and integrated into the design. The distinctive detailing continues upstairs into bedroom, closet and bathroom, the latter fitted out with salvaged 1930s fixtures.


Ferguson-Steilberg House (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2008)

Ferguson-Steilberg House
One Orchard Lane
(Walter T. Steilberg, 1922–23)

Preservation projects come in all sizes. The Awards Committee was pleased that this seemingly small restoration of 85-year-old redwood gutters was nominated by the third generation of the original architect. There was much more here than we expected, and an exceptional effort went into this restoration.

Main Ave. Bridge in Sacramento, built in the 1930s and dismantled in 2006, supplied the lumber for the new gutters (courtesy of The Lumber Baron)

Can you imagine seeking out and finding recycled redwood from salvaged bridge beams, transporting it from Berkeley to Healdsburg and back to be milled to the exact dimensions of the original gutters? Even the metal blade to duplicate the old grooves had to be custom-manufactured.

Some of the custom tools used in shaping the new gutters (courtesy of A. Bellagio Wood Tank Co.)

Removing the old and installing the newly milled redwood required that full scaffolding be erected on this two- and three-story hillside house. A talented craftsman scrambled up and down the scaffolding many times to get each of the many angles exactly right. No expense was spared, and no corners were cut for this outstanding preservation project.

The newly milled redwood gutters, crowning the entire top perimeter of this complex architectural form, represent a perfectly executed preservation undertaking—rehabbing right. BAHA commends the owner, daughter of Walter Steilberg, his grandchildren, and other family members for this cooperative, heroic accomplishment, a grand tribute to the architect.

Plowman House (courtesy of Keith Miller & Jacqueline Beth)

Plowman House
1517 Grant Street
(George T. Plowman, 1908)

Records in the University of Oregon Special Collections indicate that this charming, cottage-scale Crafstman residence was built in the spring of 1908 by contractor Louis Engler for $1,430 dollars to the plans of George T. Plowman, architect and owner.

BAHA is awarding a commendation for a special element in recognition of a half-bathroom addition to a home that until now possessed only one bathroom.

The addition, left, grows organically out of the house. (courtesy of Keith Miller & Jacqueline Beth)

Meticulous craftsmanship, matching on the exterior the beamed gables of the rest of the house; hand-built doors and windows; and the high quality of materials and details have all resulted in a totally integrated and natural addition. Vertical-grain fir was handsomely utilized for the interior of the half-bathroom, matching the wood used by the previous architect-owners in a 1970s remodel of the kitchen and bathroom.

Vertical-grain fir in the interior. (courtesy of Keith Miller & Jacqueline Beth)

The fortuitous addition of this half-bathroom near the entry to the house has vastly enhanced its functionality and livability and added much assurance to the likelihood that it will be loved and enjoyed for another century or more.


The Fountain at the Circle (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

The Fountain at the Circle
Northbrae Public Improvements
(John Galen Howard, architect;
R.E. Mansell, landscape architect, 1907–11
City of Berkeley Landmark No. 175 (1992)

BAHA awards a Special Commendation for the continuing upkeep of perhaps the most beloved restored treasure in Berkeley, located where Arlington, Marin, Los Angeles, Del Norte, and Mendocino Avenues converge at the centerpiece of the Northbrae subdivision—a busy hub today.

From 1958, when a truck careened down Marin Avenue and crashed through the fountain, until restoration was complete in the mid-1990s, Berkeley was without this civic treasure, and The Circle fell into considerable disrepair.

Sara Holmes, volunteer coordinator, her husband Harvard Holmes, and the Friends of the Fountain and Walk are the heroes who work tirelessly to maintain this beautiful landmark, which was the recipient of two BAHA Preservation Awards: in 1994 for the balustrade and rail restoration and three years later for the restored fountain.

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004

Ongoing maintenance tasks performed by the volunteers include sweeping the gutters, trimming the boxwood hedge, pulling weeds, removing graffiti, collecting trash, providing tools and green cans, and working with the City to repair and replace vehicle-damaged balustrades, rails, and bollards.

BAHA commends Sara and Harvard for their hard work and continuous contributions toward making Berkeley a very special place.

Awards 2008

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