Maybeck Church Wins First in Internet Preservation Contest

By Richard Brenneman
Friday November 03, 2006

Berkeley’s first landmark has proved the Bay Area’s most popular—at least of the 25 structures Internet voters could pick to receive preservation funds. 

The winner after voting ended at midnight Tuesday was the First Church of Christ, Scientist at 2619 Dwight Way. 

The contest, sponsored by American Express Partners in Preservation, will award a total of $1 million to the top vote-getters in the contest that was heavily promoted by television and print advertising. 

“First Church won,” said Jennifer Bennett, a San Francisco publicist who has been working on the contest. 

The names of the other vote-getters and the amount of cash that will go to each will be announced on Nov. 14, she said. 

With 18 percent of the votes, the church edged out the second place Angel Island by two percentage points. 

The announcement comes as an updated version of the municipal ordinance that landmarked the church has emerged as the hottest, most-contested issue on the Berkeley ballot for Nov. 7. 


And the winner is  

Built in 1910 from a design by Bernard Maybeck with Julia Morgan, one of the city’s two preeminent architects, First Church of Christ, Scientists is located just across the street from the city’s other famous landmark, People’s Park. 

Maybeck is considered one of the exemplars of the Arts and Crafts school, which emphasized the use of handcrafted wood. 

One other Berkeley landmark was among the 25 candidates—the Berkeley City Club, formerly the Berkeley Women’s Club. A Julia Morgan design, the club was the fifth city landmark designation in a vote taken on the same evening as the First Church designation. 

Bennett declined to reveal the contest voting totals, and said how much money is allotted for church restoration will be decided next week when the panel meets. 

The awards are administered by an advisory committee that includes business owners, non-profit officials and public officials, most from San Francisco. 

All of the participating sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the caretakers of each had to provide a a restoration plan that could be completed by the middle of 2008.