Last week, I posted black and white photos of the last gasps of industrial Berkeley.
This week, we’ll reverse course and admire colorfully painted houses, especially Victorians.
This is not a scholarly examination of architecture. The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association sponsored a tour of Berkeley Victorians in 2004. Several years later, Daniella Thompson gave us a brilliant essay about an enclave of Victorians in Berkeley. I am not competing with this expertise – I am presenting photos of pretty things that I have seen in my walks around Berkeley.
I am not a stickler about styles – when I say “Victorian,” somebody who knows more than I do might say Second Empire, Stick-Eastlake, Folk Victorian, Queen Anne,Richardsonian Romanesque, Shingle, Gothic Revival, or Italianate.
I like the colors, and I am amused by the originals of the term “Painted Ladies” to describe brightly painted Victorians.
The term was first used for San Francisco Victorian houses by writers Elizabeth Pomada and Michael Larsen in their 1978 book Painted Ladies: San Francisco’s Resplendent Victorians.[
Roger W. Moss wrote in Nineteenth Century Paints that Painted Ladies “say more about the tastes of 1970s and 1980s than they do about the 1870s and 1880s. So there!
What I show here – polychrome decoration that embellishes or enhances architectural details.
In several previous posts I have teased with elaborate paint jobs.
In my post on the UFO of Vine Street, I alluded to but did not dwell on the lovely paint job that George McNeil and Joanna Salska McNeil gave their Vine Street home.
Ditto with my post on 1634 Virginia – I acknowledged the great paint job but didn’t go bonkers on it. Let’s look at a some others, okay?
Just west of Trader Joe’s at 1830 Berkeley Way is on of the most stunning paint jobs in Berkeley.
Embellish or enhance architectural details indeed.
A few houses west is this – 1811 Berkeley Way. Far fewer colors, far less embellishment or enhancement, but striking all the same.
Nearby Bonita runs into Hearst.
On the southwest corner is 1901 Bonita, one of at least two Casa Bonita’s in Berkeley.
Another grand example of polychromism is at 1536 Oxford.
It is the Boudrow House, named after Charles C. Boudrow (c. 1830–1918), a Massachusetts-born master mariner. Daniella Thompson – of course – wrote BAHA’s historical post on the Boudrow House.
This is before the paint. Whether the new colors are representative of historical style or not, they rock.
Wouldn’t a chair a lamp and pot of tea and cat on your lap be just perfect in this room?
A few houses north on the same block are two modest painted ladies:
Two blocks east is Arch Street with many great old houses.
I knew this house in a previous incarnation, before the embellishing and enhancing colors – a few different dark browns.
After dropping daughters off at the Milvia doors of Berkeley High for the last eight years, I have many times then turned right on Channing and – WHAM – this treasure surprises me Every Time.
The detail is out of this world. A few more quickly:
John and I were heading west from the Victorians on our way down to the dark satanic mills. We spotted this – stopped, backed up, and shot. The stop-and-back-up is a classic Quirky Berkeley driving technique.
We were gifted with a bonus on our transition down to the industrial flats.
It took a trained quirk-finding eye to spot this driving west on Parker.
What have we here?
A cat and a dog – a pink poodle at that.
Very Good Quirk! Serendipity!
Thee are many more painted ladies to find and photograph and show. I don’t want to spin out on this, but they are joy-giving and happy. I will find more.
I showed the photos to my friend.
He showed a photo to me.
I said, “This appears to be an unembellished, unenhanced, busted-up Victorian house.”
My friend nodded. “Yes. As Jules says to Yolanda in the coffee shop in Pulp Fiction – – correctomundo as to all adjectives.”
I asked where this house is.
He shook his head. “Not gonna say. Don’t want to create a land rush for it. There’s a blue plastic milk crate in the oleander bush near the house. I just sit and study it. Look at those details! They cared when they made this house! They wanted beauty. It mattered to them. Beauty for the sake of beauty. Even busted-up and unpainted it is beauty.”
I asked, “Are we not perhaps guilty of the golden age syndrome? Do you remember the movie – ‘Nostalgia is denial. Denial of the painful present. The name for this denial is Golden Age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one ones living in – its a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.'”
He snorted. “Nope. I admire beauty. That’s all. Like you with your painted ladies.”
Enough of this. Let’s get to the essential question – what does he think of the post?