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Harmon House communal home welcomes eclectic mix for pre-renovation reunion

By Chris Nichols, Special to the Daily Planet
Saturday April 13, 2002

Scrapbooks, stories, videos, food and memories will be shared next Saturday at the Harmon House Reunion as the members of one of Berkeley’s eclectic communal houses say good-bye to their former South Berkeley residence. The house, a communal living space in Berkeley for working adults, students and graduate students since 1978, has been sold and will be renovated later this year. 

Saturday’s event will reunite former residents of the house, including Sharon Seidenstein, founder of the Berkeley Farmer’s Market, for a final visit to the house that produced stories, marriages and inspiration.  

“There were so many experiences there. I met my husband there, others met their spouses there,” said Laura Menard, former resident of the Harmon House.  

Organizers of the day have asked former members to bring pieces of memorabilia from their time at the house and also plan to bury a time capsule in the yard. Butcher paper will be taped to the side of the house for former and current residents to fill in a timeline of events through the co-op’s 24 year history. 

The house is a large, rustic Victorian dating back to the late 1800s, built in part with redwood lumber. Stalks of bamboo grow to one side of the six and a half bedroom house.  

“There’s so much history to it. There’s a personality to it. I don’t know when we will all be able to get together again. I hope we can capture some of the history with this event,” said current resident Dianne Osborne. 

Osborne says the day will be an interactive one with former and current members encouraged to mingle and reflect on a piece of their lives and a piece of history. Osborne adds that founding member Kathy Thomas will also be attending the afternoon festivities. 

Also planned for the day are a video taping of the event, a large group photo and the passing out of T-shirts to commemorate the final reunion. 

According to Menard, former residents of the Harmon House include a number of working professionals throughout the Bay Area including architects, photographers, lawyers, scholars and massage therapists. Currently, there are seven remaining residents in the house. The Victorian modeled house will be renovated later this year. 

“The great thing about the house was the group shopping and cooking.We had family meals and were introduced to different kinds of cooking by residents from France, Israel and England,” said Menard.“Thanksgiving was always a great time because of cooking and because the the members of the house were like a family.” 

Menard expects a large number of former residents to turn out for the event and an even larger number of memories.Former residents from as far away as Oregon and Iowa are expected to attend the Harmon House’s final reunion. 

The reunion and potluck are planned for Saturday, April 20 at 2 1612 Harmon St. (near California Street) in South Berkeley.