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Berkeley Arts & Crafts to our town of Piedmont during the growth

Our Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays group had another special walk last Wednesday. I was away, but at the end of our prior week's walk Jim Kellogg by chance ended up with the walk leader baton, so he was to lead off this week's walk. It was fortuitous because Jim is an architect and he designed a treat for the group. Here is what he shared with me. There were 37 walkers, and three K-9 best friends at the Exedra at our normal start time. Jim's topic for the walk was "The introduction of Berkeley Arts and Crafts Architecture to our town of Piedmont during the growth ear of 1910 to 1926." He explained that Berkeley Arts and Crafts started with teaching, mentoring, and development of the Arts and Crafts movement by Bernard Maybeck in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He collaborated with and mentored three leading architects on whom the walk focused: John Galen Howard, Julia Morgan, and John Hudson Thomas. Morgan and Thomas met in the office of John Galen Howard. Morgan and Thomas became well recognized by the Berkeley School of Architecture. They adopted and built their practices around the Arts and Crafts movement, and each designed numerous notable single family homes in Piedmont. Although Howard did not design any projects in Piedmont, his influence on Morgan and Thomas was important. The third Architect included in the tour was Albert Farr. He played a key role in master planning and building Piedmont during this period, His works included: the Piedmont Community Center, City Hall, The Christian Science Center (now The Piedmont Center for the Arts), the Exedra, Piedmont Community Church, and many single family homes. All three of these famous architects practiced at the same time and designed projects in Piedmont from about 1910 to 1926. They each had their own styles, and also client bases and political connections that influenced their careers. Morgan embraced arts and crafts and integrated it with classical design popular at that time. She was the first woman to receive a degree from the Beaux Arts School of Architecture, the first women to become a registered architect in California, and became famous because of her employment by William Randolph Hearst. Thomas also embraced the arts and crafts movement and developed his own "exuberant style" of design and craftsman detailing. His career was focused on luxury single family homes spread through the East Bay and San Francisco, but he did not have the connections with people such as Hearst. Farr is well respected for his talent, but his style would be described as "eclectic." The Piedmont Community Church masterpiece is pure California Mission style, but he also produced English Tudor, French Classical, as well as Arts and Crafts buildings depending on what his clients wanted. He lived in Piedmont for a while, and became well connected with City government including Frank C. Havens which led to many important commissions. However, his name is not remembered outside of Piedmont to the same degree as either Morgan or Thomas. Jim took the group to 14 different buildings during his tour. They were:

  1. Farr's Piedmont Exedra, 1922, where the walk started,

  2. Morgan's 27 Highland Ave, the George McNear House, 1910, her first house in Piedmont and the first house directly north of Havens School,

  3. Thomas' 34 Craig St, 1915, a single family house and an excellent example of his Arts and Crafts style,

  4. Farr's 1917 Piedmont Community Church where a group photo was taken in its courtyard,

  5. Thomas' 12 Sierra Ave, 1918, a single family house opposite of the notable mansion in classical east-coast style,

  6. Farr's 284 Mountain Ave, 1918, masterpiece mansion in the Arts and Crafts style (perhaps using the detailing from Thomas' 12 Sierra Ave house as a point of departure,

  7. Morgan's 216 Hampton Ave, 1912, William Starr house,

  8. her 329 Hampton Ave, 1938, Alan Starr House (son of William), Morgan's last project in Piedmont,

  9. her 246 Sea View Ave, 1913, Ayer Family House - her masterpiece, 10) her 62 Farragut Ave, 1915, James Lambert House, designed to replicate a Harrow Public School Building that James Lambert attended, and

  10. her 200 Crocker Ave, 1926, Benjamin Reed House,

  11. Thomas' 500 Wildwood Ave, 1920, Arts & Crafts cedar shake house,

  12. his 455 Wildwood Ave, 1909, W.F. Kelly Mansion - his masterpiece, and

  13. his 431 Wildwood Ave, 1918, J.H. Crosby House, in his Arts and Crafts "gothic style."

All the building are beautiful and got rave reviews from the group. So did Jim Kellogg's masterful Piedmont architecture walking tour. Everyone appreciated the buildings and the knowledge Jim shared with them.


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