I scarcely believed my ears last week when I heard Councilmember Wozniak ask staff if there was a list of all the landmarks designated thus far in Berkeley, including their dates of designation.
If I’m not mistaken, it was Councilmember Anderson who chimed in, asking if the list could also include designations that had been overturned by the City Council.
This line of inquiry makes me wonder if the honorable councilmembers ever read their mail, or pay attention to what community members have been telling them.
A complete list of Berkeley Landmarks is available on (surprise, surprise) the Berkeley Landmarks website: www.berkeleyheritage.com/berkeley_landmarks/landmarks.html.
Click the “All Landmarks” link, and you’ll find three pages, each listing in table form up to 100 landmarks. Listings include name of property, address, architect’s name, date of construction, date initiated, date designated, and additional notes informing whether this property is on the National Register, the SHRI, a historic district, a structure of merit, or demolished.
Each property name is also linked to an illustrated article about the landmark or, at the very least, to a photo of the property.
In addition, a separate, redundant page lists only the structures of merit: www.berkeleyheritage.com/berkeley_landmarks/structures-of-merit.html.
And there’s much more there, if the City Council would only take the trouble to look.
I created the Berkeley Landmarks website in September 2003, because the city’s own listing was more than three years out of date. Berkeley Landmarks is now the largest and most complete such website in the nation. Architectural historians use it regularly for research purposes, and it is distressing to discover that the Berkeley City Council, while deliberating on the LPO, still appears to be totally unaware of it.
The Berkeley Landmarks website does not include designations overturned by the City Council, but based on my research while constructing the website, I will venture to say that their number is fewer than 10. The BAHA office has a record of them.
Councilmember Wozniak also asked about surveying the city for historic properties and wondered how many historic properties there might be in Berkeley. In the 1970s, with a grant from the State of California, BAHA volunteers surveyed hundreds of properties that are now listed in the SHRI (State Historic Resources Inventory). My printout of the state’s Historic Properties Directory for Berkeley, dated June 11, 2003, lists 918 such properties. However, this survey is not complete; many neighborhoods remain unsurveyed.
The bulk of the surveyed historic properties have not been designated. This is not because we don’t know where they are, but because we don’t know enough about them, and it takes time and effort to research each one and write a landmark application. If you’ll take a look at any LPC agenda, you’ll see a long list of properties awaiting their turn.
That said, not every historic property need be designated a landmark. Historic districts or neighborhood conservation districts can help protect historic neighborhoods.
Councilmember Wozniak’s idea is excellent. If the city would take the initiative to secure grant funds, the surveying of Berkeley could be completed, and the whole issue of request for determination might be laid to rest.
And as long as you’re visiting the Berkeley Landmarks website, take a little detour to the neighborhoods and see these recent photo surveys:
High-Peaked Colonial Revival
These and other recent surveys (e.g., Sisterna Tract and Central Park Tract) are entirely the work of neighborhood volunteers.
Daniella Thompson is the website editor for the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association.