Stadium trumps housing for UC in 1922
Adequate and affordable housing serving UC Berkeley students, as it is today, was also an issue a century ago.
However, the Berkeley Daily Gazette reported on October 21, 1922 that “all hope for prompt action to secure dormitories on the college campus was today abandoned following a lengthy conference between RG LaRue, head of the dormitory committee students, and (UC) President David Prescott Barrows Neither the venue nor the funding can be settled at this time, they decided.
The article goes on to say “there are two possible sites open, one north and east of Charter Rock and the other on the hill below Big C. University architect John Galen Howard has drawn plans for a ‘student town’ on the hill, but these plans are considered impractical at present due to stadium plans.
Barrows told LaRue that if donations of $200,000 could be raised, it would be possible to secure $300,000 in bank financing to build an initial residence for 160 male students who would each pay $10 a month as part of of their rent to pay off the debt.
“The financial package is the main difficulty for dormitory builders. The university must centralize all of its financial strength to overcome physical barriers to academic growth on campus, and the recent stadium campaign has drained the alumni and student ‘surplus’,” the article said.
This is rather interesting information. What he’s basically saying is that in the early 1920s there was a strong desire among students for dormitories to be built, with the involvement of the university. Many students also wanted a stadium, as did many former students. Money raised from donations went to the stadium project instead of student accommodation.
Or put another way, the university in 1922 had a choice between directing donor enthusiasm toward building a large temple to serve an intercollegiate sport or toward student housing. He basically chose the former.
Development: Berkeley was experiencing a rapid pace of real estate development in the fall of 1922. The Gazette reported that local developers who had stopped to see if construction costs would drop had mostly decided to continue with real estate development in October of that year.
For example, the Mason McDuffie Company announced on October 21, 1922, that it would “open the section connecting Rose and Vine streets about 120 feet west of Grant Street”. This would make it possible to expand Edith Street and build about 40 bungalows. The land would be called Saint Francis Terrace. The bungalows were expected to sell for between $5,500 and $6,500. In today’s dollars, that would be around $100,000 to $115,000.
Dramatic rescue: A 58-year-old Berkeley woman, Mrs. WM Calvert, of 1815 Francisco St., had disappeared from her home on her birthday in mid-October 1922. Her daughter had just called to invite her to celebrate. She left her house, then disappeared for a week.
A search party of local scouts found her sitting “deep in an abandoned quarry at the foot of Yosemite Avenue, beside Codornices Creek.” They helped her get to a nearby house and she was taken to a local sanatorium (a rest and recuperation institution). The Gazette reported that Calvert “had been suffering from a nervous breakdown for several months.”
Point of view : The East Bay Water Co. announced in October 1922 that it would build an “attractive observation station” at Inspiration Point near Skyline Boulevard in the hills above Oakland. At the time, the water company owned much of the hill area (later to become Tilden Park). People were banned from entering due to “health regulations”. Was it actually built? The design was for an interesting pergola overlooking San Francisco Bay.
Steven Finacom, Bay Area native and Berkeley community historian, holds the copyright to this column.