BAHA Preservation Awards 2016
Parsons House before the fire (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2008)
William Parsons House
2924 Benvenue Avenue
(Albert J. Mazurette, architect, 1911)
The restored Parsons House (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2016)
Awarded for Post-fire Rebuilding
This unique Arts & Crafts bungalow represents a pioneering design for accessible living. Designed for an elderly man confined to a wheelchair, it featured an access ramp, wide doorways, and a spacious central corridor, enabling easy movement along a single floor. The house was featured in BAHA’s 2008 Spring House Tour and was the subject of a related article.
The living room retains its original windows, cabinetry, and fireplace. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2016)
The Parsons House boasted a great deal of original wood paneling; handsome windows—both external and internal—with leaded art glass; pocket doors; and built-in cabinetry with stained-glass doors. During the Great Depression, long after Parsons’ death, the house was divided into two units. About 1971–72, speculative buyers developed the attic in a jury-rigged fashion, turning the house into a two-story structure that lacked a proper stairwell.
The restored dining room (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2016)
The current owner returned the house to single-family use. On 3 Ocotober 2012, an electrical fire broke out in the back. While the family members on site escaped safely, the rear third of the first floor and the entire second floor were destroyed, and much of the main floor sustained smoke and water damage.
The new stairwell (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2016)
The need to replace infrastructure was an opportunity to make the house more functional and correct past eccentricities. The second floor is now a legal apartment with its own street address and a proper stairwell, duly wainscoted in board-and-batten. A hidden pocket door that was discovered at the entrance to the living room is now utilized between the dining room and the new, enlarged kitchen. The magnificent leaded-glass pocket door between the corridor and the dining room was salvaged and is now gracing the living room entrance.
The new kitchen (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2016)
On the main floor, bedrooms remain where they used to be, but superfluous or awkwardly placed doors were eliminated, and bathrooms were reconfigured and modernized. An orphan kitchen left over from the 1930s division was removed. Wood paneling, box beams, and windows were either refinished or replaced in kind. The single internal art-glass window that could be salvaged from the corridor is now lighting the stair landing.
The project is not entirely complete yet. The built-in dining room cabinets are still awaiting replacement leaded-glass doors. Between the two cabinets, a new stained-glass window may yet take the place of the one lost in the fire. BAHA salutes this admirable effort to restore as much original fabric as possible and to replicate the fabric that couldn’t be saved. The owner thanks contractor Tom Alderson and his crew for the thoughtful restoration.
The Rednall House on fire (photo: Michael Tao, Daily Cal, 2013)
William W. Rednall Speculative House
1177 Keith Avenue
(Hughson & Donnolly, builders, 1911)
The restored Rednall House (photo courtesy of Jarvis Architects)
Awarded for Post-fire Rebuilding
When this brown-shingle house was constructed in North Cragmont, the tract was situated in an unincorporated territory adjacent to the northeasterly boundary of the City of Berkeley. The owner was William Walter Rednall, a San Francisco carpenter turned real-estate developer.
The house underwent various alterations over the years, including repair of fire damage in 1938. Fire struck again on 6 February 2013, and although much of the exterior structure and the shingle cladding was saved, the interiors were completely destroyed—the top two floors by fire, the ground floor by water damage. The owner and her partner, who had spent the previous 16 years refinishing their home, hand-painting and staining every surface, were faced with starting from scratch.
The gutted dining room (photo courtesy of Jarvis Architects)
First, the interiors were gutted down to the framing. This offered an opportunity for spatial improvements, such as raising the ceiling in the second floor and adding dormers to the attic. The surviving windows and deck were retained.
The restored dining room (photo courtesy of the owner)
The restoration became a full-time job for the owner. An artist and landscape designer, she also became a remarkable sleuth, tracking down sources for the raft of special materials used to rebuild and decorate the house. Where possible, parts of the original interior were recycled, like her beautifully painted panels from the front hall that are now in the dining room. Burned joists were transformed into a dining room table. While the contractor and various artisans dealt with structural challenges like the foundation and the rebuilding of the infrastructure, the owner addressed her goal of harmonizing the variety of surface finishes for the floors, walls, and furniture. In short, the Craftsman tradition of the past has been transformed and enriched by the the eclectic eye and remarkable skills of the couple.
The Marston House, before (photo: EBRD, 2014)
William H. Marston Co. House
1500 Arch Street
(Eldridge T. Spencer, architect, 1937)
The Marston House, after (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2016)
Awarded for Sensitive Restoration
The building of this all-redwood house required the demolition of its predecessor, a Queen Anne Victorian on a triple lot at the southwest corner of Arch and Vine Streets, built for William Heywood in 1888. Captain William Harrington Marston (1835–1926) acquired it circa 1892–03 and lived here with his family until his death. In the 1930s, his widow, Idela Alice Reed Marston, moved to 2330 Vine Street. The Marstons demolished the 49-year-old Victorian and engaged architect Eldridge Theodore Spencer, a U.C. and École des Beaux Arts–trained San Franicsco architect, to build a modern house in its stead. In 1937, Spencer’s Streamline Moderne design would have been le dernier cri.
Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2016
When the present owner purchased the house in early 2014, he took possession of a building that had not been upgraded in quite a long time. Being a certified building inspector, he knew just what to do and how to do it. Knob-and-tube wiring was replaced, and the electrical service was upgraded from 30 Amp to 125 Amp. Water lines were repiped, and a tankless water heater installed in the garage. The existing furnace and ducts were replaced. Among the more visible alterations were the replacement of a kitchen window and the removal of a wall between the kitchen and the dining room.
Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2016
Within and without, the Streamline Moderne details were intact, and the new owner preserved and enhanced them. Horizontal lines dominate, whether in moldings, trellises, or the new fence. Original cupboard doors were replicated where needed, and pure colors chosen for contrast with the taupe walls—window and roof trim are black, the front door is red, and white recessed bands wrap around the door. Old light fixtures found in the house were refitted for current use. New landscaping completes the tidy look.
The Pedersen Building as bought in 2013 (Google Street View)
Rasmus Pedersen Bakery & Residence
2828 McGee Avenue
(Hughson & Donnolly, store builder, 1911; N.P. Miller, residence builder, 1913)
The restored Pedersen Building (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2016)
Awarded for Extensive Renovation
In its first century of existence, this modest corner retail business-cum-residence suffered many ignominies. Housing first a bakery and later a grocery store, the Colonial Revival building gradually lost most of its defining features. Its shiplap siding was covered over with imitation brick veneer; its large shop window was replaced with a clerestory slit; an ugly band of vertical plywood siding girded the ground-floor walls; the stairs to the residence lost their stepped parapet; and the wooden window sashes were replaced with vinyl.
The building in 1969 (Ormsby Donogh files, BAHA archives)
The building in 2011 (Google Street View)
In November 2013, after 500 days on the market, the vacant building was acquired by a passionate pair of young artists and printers from West Oakland whose imagination recognized a diamond in the rough. Zoning restrictions in this R-2 district—a limitation for most would-be buyers—eliminated competition and made it possible for the couple to establish a live-work space incorporating their family residence, art studios, and custom letterpress printing business.
“We originally thought we were working with 750 square feet of residential space,” said Thea Sizemore and Patrick Kavanagh, “and then our architect, Christi Azevedo, introduced the idea of lifting the building to gain almost an additional 987 square feet. After all the work and rezoning, we ended up with a massive 2,185 sq. ft. residential space and 721 sq. ft. commercial space. Beyond that, Christi encouraged us that we were not crazy to buy this ugly duckling property. Our contractor, Nathan Grant, was open to our scrappy budget and could see our dream of a live-work lifestyle. He helped us find budget-friendly construction solutions where he could. Nathan’s love of wood (and real materials) encouraged us to return the façade to the original redwood siding.”
Thea Sizemore dismantling the chimney (photo courtesy of the owners)
Owing to budgetary limits, the plan to replicate the old shop window fell by the wayside. The original stepped stair parapet couldn’t be replicated because it didn’t meet code. In compensation, the fake brick veneer was stripped off to reveal intact shiplap siding, as well as the N. Stone’s Grocery sign covered over in 1942. The residential ground floor gained a door and a double window matching the one directly above.
The stripped building reveals its original shiplap siding. (photo courtesy of the owners)
In the storage space under the residence, the walls were discovered to be lined with rare old Oakland Tribune stereotype mats. Underneath the mats, there was another layer—this one composed entirely of grocery crate facets, which were incorporated into the renovation project as interior stair risers.
Old crate parts found on site are now stair risers (photo courtesy of the owners)
Although not skilled in the building trades, the owners tried to do as much of the work as they could, in order to save money. They designed and installed the “crate staircase”; laid the tile in the bathrooms; dismantled the chimney and reused its bricks for a landing; assembled the kitchen cabinets; and crafted a wooden counter for the upstairs bath. For the tools and the advice, they thank the Berkeley Tool Lending Library.
The renovated residential wing fits well into the neighborhood fabric. (photo: Carrie Olson, 2016)
Copyright © 2016 BAHA. All rights reserved.