Announcing our 32nd Spring House Tour
and Garden Reception

Houses and Gardens in Thousand Oaks

Sunday, 6 May 2007, One to Five o’clock

Featuring houses designed by A.W. Smith, John Hudson Thomas, James W. Plachek, Sidney & Noble Newsom, Paul Hammarberg, Robert Ratcliff, Roger Lee, and more.

Tour map, illustrated guidebook & refreshments provided
General $35; BAHA members & guests $25

(discount limit: 2 guests per individual member; 4 per household)

Order tickets online (see below) or use the ticket order form.

When Berkeley was new, rocks dominated the scene. They towered thirty feet or more above grassy oak woodlands and could be seen from across the Bay. Today, though just as tall and imposing, the rocks have retreated from view-so much so that many people have only the vaguest notion they exist.

Berkeley Rocks

EXISTING just below our everyday consciousness is a fantastic geological landscape unique to Berkeley—an extraordinary profusion of massive rock outcroppings. There is beauty, mystery, and power to these ancient sentinels that rise high above the roadway to embrace a hillside home, or serve as a centerpiece for a private garden or public park. The rocks were once a quite prominent feature of the open Berkeley slopes, the larger even serving as landmarks for surveyors. Indian Rock is certainly famous, but many of these large rocks are hidden from view: lost under mature foliage, out of sight behind houses or walls, or, perhaps, invisibly serving as a sturdy footing for a residence.

JONATHAN CHESTER’s book Berkeley Rocks, published this year by Ten Speed Press, with text by Dave Weinstein, celebrates this special natural feature of Berkeley. The photographs and commentary bring alive this neglected aspect of the Berkeley landscape, giving the rocky crags the attention they deserve. The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association’s Spring Tour will focus on these craggy outcroppings and the homes and gardens that share the landscape with them. The Thousand Oaks neighborhood is one of Berkeley’s craggiest areas, and the tour will take place here.

THOUSAND OAKS was once an open tract of land: an oak-covered knoll strewn with boulders that was a favorite picnic ground for Berkeleyans. In 1908 a bond measure, which proposed to make the area a public park, failed, and the land was then subdivided, but in a way that preserved the natural beauty. Contoured streets were curved and bent around ancient oaks, and lots were sold with rock outcroppings left intact. The developers also preserved one of the large rocks as the centerpiece for a small public park: Great Stone Face Park.

TODAY, Thousand Oaks is a leafy, fully-built residential neighborhood. Tourgoers will have a chance to wander into hidden, private gardens to view some of these silent, sturdy masses of rock up-close. Of interest will be the wide variety of gardens that have been created around the rocks, and how homes were built in relation to these sometimes almost overpowering natural objects. Open for viewing will be homes designed by John Hudson Thomas, James W. Plachek, A.W. Smith, Sidney & Noble Newsom, Roger Lee, and others.

THE ROCKS themselves will be the main focus. Most of them are accessible only by narrow garden paths, uneven rock steps, and sloping ground. Tour goers should wear appropriate footwear and exercise vigilance and caution while on the tour.

Pre-tour illustrated lectures

Sanctuary, Northbrae Community Church (Reginald Inwood, 1957)
941 The Alameda, Berkeley, CA 94707

Thousand Oaks

Speaker: Trish Hawthorne
Thousand Oaks historian
Thursday, 26 April 2007
8:00 pm

Admission $10


Berkeley Rocks

Speaker: Jonathan Chester
Author of Berkeley Rocks (read review)
Thursday, 3 May 2007
8:00 pm

Admission $10

Order tour & lecture tickets online
(a service charge will be added)

Or use the ticket order form to order by mail.

For directions to the tour ticket booth, see map.

AC Transit bus to Thousand Oaks

Want to be a tour docent?
(510) 841-2242 or e-mail the BAHA office

Copyright © 2007 BAHA. All rights reserved.
Photographs © Daniella Thompson.