Announcing our 30th Spring House Tour
and Garden Reception

Panoramic Hill

Step into a world of quiet beauty
in the heart of the city

Sunday, 1 May 2005, One to Five o’clock

Featuring fifteen homes by
Bernard Maybeck, A.H. Broad, Ernest Coxhead, John Hudson Thomas,
Walter Ratcliff, Walter Steilberg, Mabel Baird, William Wurster,
Frank Lloyd Wright & Harwell Hamilton Harris.

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

ON Sunday, 1 May, tourgoers will have a rare opportunity to explore a very special Berkeley neighborhood: Panoramic Hill. Not only is this an area of great architectural significance, but the intimate relationship between houses, paths, and landscaping—all perched on the hillside, with narrow, circuitous Panoramic Way as their common bond—has resulted in a most charming and scenic district.

  Panoramic Hill has been compared to a European hill town, but with its brown-shingle houses and lush vegetation, this “hill town” could only be found in the Bay Area. There are few sidewalks, but the many steps and paths will let you bypass the street often. The stunningly beautiful and romantic Orchard Lane, a classically-inspired stairway designed in 1910 by Henry Atkins of Vickery, Atkins & Torrey, begins at the foot of the hill. Leading off in another direction is quiet Mosswood Path with its soft carpet of redwood needles. Arden Steps is arduous, but well worth the climb.

Architectural historian John Beach had this to say about the hill:

The quality of this area depends not so much on its individual buildings, though there are many fine structures by Berkeley’s most important designers, but upon the survival of a complete neighborhood that provides a background for these buildings. Thus, the individual designs of Coxhead, Morgan, or Maybeck do not appear as museum pieces in a glass case, divorced of context, but convey the image and atmosphere of the intellectual and cultural milieu which aspired at the turn of the century to be the Athens of the West.

Co-existing with the early homes are some of the finest mid-century Modern houses. Set in such proximity, one can readily see the continuity and harmony between the redwood houses of the two eras.

The tour will include houses designed by Bernard Maybeck, Ernest Coxhead, John Hudson Thomas, Walter Ratcliff, William Wurster, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Walter Steilberg, who lived on the hill and designed about a dozen nearby houses. The hill is steep in some areas, and there are uneven steps and footpaths, so we encourage you to wear walking shoes. All houses are within walking distance of each other, and tourgoers will be asked not to drive on Panoramic Way.  

Among the tour’s many highlights, visitors will be able to see the Weston Havens House (Harwell Hamilton Harris, 1941), a masterpiece of mid-20th century architecture recently bequeathed to the University of California.

Weston Havens House (photo: Man Ray, 1941, Getty Museum)

On the day of the tour, tickets may be purchased (cash or check only) from 12 pm at the BAHA ticket booth, located at the entrance to the Memorial Stadium parking lot (north end of Prospect Street, one block north of Channing Way; see map). No driving will be allowed on Panoramic Hill. We recommend that you use public transportation if possible.

Marion Randall Parsons
(Bancroft Library, U.C. Berkeley)

Pre-tour Lecture

Panoramic Hill’s Sierra Club Legacy:
Parsons Lodge & Hutchinson Lodge

Early lovers of nature made their homes on Panoramic Hill
above the U.C. Berkeley campus and left their mark
not only in Berkeley but in the Sierra.

Janice Thomas, Fredrica Drotos & Michael Kelly
Thursday, 14 April, at 7:30 pm
Grace North Church (James W. Plachek, 1913)
2138 Cedar Street at Walnut

Admission $10

For additional information, call (510) 841-2242.

Order tickets online
(please add $1.50 per ticket for processing)

Or use the ticket order form to order by mail.

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

Copyright © 2005–2011 BAHA. All rights reserved.
Photographs © Daniella Thompson.