Announcing our 34th Spring House Tour
and Garden Reception

Hillside Houses of the Early- and Mid-20th Century

Sunday, 3 May 2009, One to Five o’clock

Featuring houses by Bernard Maybeck, John Ballantine, Reece Clark, John Funk, Donald Olsen, Felix Rosenthal, Rudolph Schindler, Winfield Scott Wellington, William Wilson Wurster, and more.

Tour map, illustrated guidebook & refreshments provided.
General $40; BAHA members $30

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

Use the ticket order form or order tickets online (scroll down).

This year, the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association’s Spring House Tour explores Maybeck Country in the foothills north of the campus. Within this enclave, centered around Buena Vista Way and La Loma Avenue, you will find “a heavy concentration of homes created by California’s most famous architect when he lived in the neighborhood himself,” as Margot Patterson Doss wrote in 1977 in “A Walk Through Maybeck Country” in her San Francisco Chronicle series, The Bay Area at Your Feet. Mrs. Doss went on to describe the iconic Berkeley architecture found in Maybeck Country: an array of houses that not only reflect Bernard Maybeck’s creativity and inventiveness but that of other homeowners and designers who built hillside houses amid the stands of eucalyptus.

The unique architectural character of Maybeck Country owes much to the vision of the early homeowners and their architects—in particular, Bernard Maybeck; Andrew Lawson; Sarah and Warren Gregory; and John Galen Howard—who built gently on the land, in harmony with the surrounding landscape. The early houses they built in the La Loma Park tract helped to define the district. But it was Bernard Maybeck’s inventiveness and ability to improvise with design and building materials that gave the neighborhood its mystique.

The small homes and cottages that make up the Maybeck family compound, as well as the neighboring houses he designed for friends, are romantically eclectic—each the singular expression of a curious and creative mind. Built on the odd-shaped lots that make up Maybeck’s large parcel, the houses face the street at different angles, as if scattered about a natural garden.

The 1923 Berkeley Fire claimed many of the first-generation redwood houses—including the Maybeck family home—while sparing others. Subsequent houses that replaced the burnt ones embodied the philosophy of the earlier generation, although usually in the revival styles popular in the 1920s. Maybeck responded to the catastrophe with his usual penchant for innovation. His use of Bubblestone, an aerated mixture of concrete, was an attempt to offer fire resistance to the cottages he designed to replace his large home. Maybeck’s Studio on Buena Vista Way, sheathed in burlap sacks that had been dipped in the wet concrete and hung shingle-fashion to dry, is one of the most oft-photographed houses in Berkeley.

Architect William Wurster made his contribution to the architectural character of the neighborhood a few decades later. At mid-century, Wurster purchased the Gregory property and conceived a plan for the level knoll below the Gregory House. He envisioned a cluster of residences sharing a landscaped common.

At Greenwood Common and on Greenwood Terrace, Berkeley’s turn-of-the-century architecture, influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement, sits side-by-side with Mid-Century Modern—the earlier style directly influencing the latter. This group of houses, designed by important architects of both periods, is an exceptional pairing of the two traditions, where the relationship between the two can be clearly observed.

On Sunday, 3 May 2009, you will have the rare opportunity to visit private homes in Maybeck Country. Several houses that Maybeck designed for members of his family over a period of twenty-five years will be open, as will one of his earlier, pre-Fire iconic designs. You will also visit the house that architect John K. Ballantine designed for his family immediately after the Fire. His use of rugged, fire-resistant materials did not preclude a design evoking Old World charm. Several of the houses that comprise Greenwood Common, each designed by a different architect, will be open, and tour goers will be able to enjoy the view of the Golden Gate from the landscaped common itself.

Maybeck Country awaits your visit.

Pre-tour Lecture Series

From Maybeck to Modern

Lectures at the Hillside Club
Tickets: $15 per lecture; $40 for the series

Wednesday, 8 April 2009, 7:30 pm
Robert Judson Clark :: Buena Vista: Maybeck and the Year 1907

Many of Bernard Maybeck’s finest residential designs, including his own house on Buena Vista Way, were created in this watershed year.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009, 7:30 pm
Henrik Bull :: Bay Area Architecture of the 1950s and 1960s

Bay Area mid-century architecture as seen through the eyes of an architect who began his practice here during the 1950s.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009, 7:30 pm
Waverly Lowell :: Greenwood Common: Living Modern

The story of William Wurster and his iconic development of mid-century houses surrounding a landscaped common overlooking the Golden Gate.

Order tour & lecture tickets online
(See instructions for using PayPal)

Or use the ticket order form to order by mail.

House docents receive complimentary admission to the tour.
To volunteer, contact BAHA.

Copyright © 2009 BAHA. All rights reserved.
Photographs © Daniella Thompson.