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History Corner - December 2023

Once Upon A Hillside: 25, 50, 75, 100, and 125 years ago

by David Mostardi


December 1898

The Hillside Club was born on 5 October 1898. No newspaper articles about the young

Hillside Club could be found this month.


December 1923

[The Hillside Clubhouse was destroyed in the Berkeley Fire of 17 September 1923]

Special Directors Meeting, Dec 3: It was the sense of the meeting that the Dirctors this

evening ask authority from the Club so that in their discretion the directors might buy

land adjacent to the present property, or sell a portion of the Club’s present holding.

Discussion of the building plan was held briefly with a report from Mr. McFarlan to the

effect that, in a talk with Mr. Maybeck about plans, Mr. Maybeck had expressed a wish

that the matter of plans for the new Clubhouse be referred to Mr. John White [Maybeck’s

brother-in-law and business partner], and Mr. McFarlan was asked to so consider the

matter with Mr. White.


Business Meeting, Dec 3: Mr. Priestley gave a brief sketch of the Christmas Ceremonial

as he and his committee were planning it. He explained the evening’s program and

presented suggestions and pictures helpful in carrying out the costuming desired for all

participants in the Ceremonial gathering. Mr. Priestley’s talk was followed by one from

Prof. Shaw, who spoke on “Some Wanderings Out and About” resulting from his

extended tour through the islands of the Pacific south to Australia and New Zealand.

After Prof. Shaw’s talk, the question of rebuilding was approached. Mrs. Hale reported

on the special Directors meeting, and introduced the question of the purchase of

additional property and the sale of part of the present lot. After discussion, the following

resolution was carried: “Resolved, that the Directors are authorized and empowered to

purchase land adjacent to the lot now owned by the Club, and to sell portions of the lot

now owned, or to be owned by the Club, at the discretion of the Directors, said purchase

and sale, if any, to be made only in connection with the rebuilding of the Clubhouse.”

Directors Meeting, Dec 10: It was moved and carried that the club send a Christmas gift

of $10 [approximately $180 in 2023 dollars] each to Mrs. Hoye, former housekeeper of

the Hillside Club [who was burned out in the fire], and Mrs. Kelly, housekeeper of the

Town & Gown Club. Moved and carried that $5 be sent to the Morning Bell Theatrical

Society, in recognition of their loan of Chinese costumes for use in the Chinese Opera

previously given by the Club, with a letter of appreciation of the loan.


Special Directors Meeting, Dec 16: This meeting was called for the purpose of discussing

the plans presented by Mr. John White, architect, and estimates thereon by Mr.

Livingston, contractor. [Only thirteen days have passed since Maybeck referred the club

to White.] Plans were explained, examined, and certain changes recommended,

particularly in reference to the Club kitchen and housekeeper’s rooms. The estimate of

$15,000 [$270,000 in 2023 dollars] by Mr. Livingston was discussed and the probable

cost of installing heating apparatus, plumbing, wiring, decorating, and painting was

added, raising it to about $19,000 [$342,000].


Ways and means of financing were then discussed. Mr. Galloway moved that we proceed

to build the club house according to the proposed plans. Carried. Mr. Galloway also

moved that the club not incur a debt of more than $10,000. Carried. Discussion then

followed of how to raise the amount needed. Both plans of “assessment” and “raise of

dues” were discarded. A request for gifts was thought to be the best plan.


Mr. McFarlan moved that the Board conclude that funds for financing the rebuilding

program in excess of the $10,000 to be borrowed and the $7,500 already on hand be

obtained by gifts from $5 to $500 as each may feel his ability to play; that no assessment

nor raise in dues be made. Also, that a committee be appointed by the Board to plan and

put into effect the details for obtaining these gifts. Moved that the President be authorized

to sign a contract with the architect to proceed with the plans and specification on the

basis previously stated. Carried.


Christmas Ceremonial, Dec 18: The gathering, consisting of the Club members and those

invited from their households met in the downstairs rooms, all attired in costumes that

tended to serve as a setting for the scene to be enacted. The stage, fitted to represent the

courtyard of the Inn at Bethlehem, gave opportunity for the enactment of the “old, old

story” of the Nativity. Following the last tableau, a goodly company of the men of the

chorus in old English garb, frolicked through the Hall, and in a most happy manner, sang

the carols and waits so quaint and characteristic of the season. The evening was a special

pleasure and the social time that followed was a true measure of the cordial good will that

made the evening so enjoyable. At the end of the Ceremonial, a gift of $100 from the

Twentieth Century Club was a great surprise, and much appreciated.


December 1948

Fireside Meeting, Dec 6: On his recent trip through the Pacific Northwest, Mr. Carl Fox

recorded his journey on colored film. We are to enjoy the results of his

photography—almost as enjoyable as taking the trip, and much less strenuous. Mrs.

Frederic Elliott will put us in the Christmas mood with a reading, “How Sandy Claus

Came to the River.”


Children’s Christmas Party, Dec 18: Santa Claus has promised the Chairmen that he will

be present with Tony, the organ grinder. There will be games, color movie cartoons (with

sound), a color movie of “The Night Before Christmas,” a Christmas tree, gifts for the

children, and refreshments for all. What more could be desired for a pleasant afternoon

for member, their children and grandchildren? Members are requested to provide a gift,

value not exceeding $1, for each child they bring to the party. Each gift should be

wrapped and plainly marked with the child’s name.


Christmas Ceremonial, Dec 20: This is a family night, and the Chairmen state that the

traditional Hillside ceremonies will be observed. The Radcliff College version of “Why

the Chimes Rang,” the Christmas story by Raymond Alden, will be presented under the

direction of Mrs. Spindt. The audience will play the part of the congregation in the

Cathedral scene. Mrs. Leatherman will assist or advise anyone in making ceremonial

robes.


December 1973

Fireside Meeting, Dec 3: William Penn Mott, Jr., State Director of Parks and Recreation,

will discuss this evening the topic “Parks are Forever.” Eminently qualified to explore the

subject by virtue of his education, interest, and administrative experience, Mr. Mott will

give us insight into future developments of our regional and state park system. We

anticipate a most interesting evening. [Mott (1909-1992) was a trained landscape

architect who in 1962 was hired as Director of the East Bay Regional Park District.

Governor Reagan named him Director of the California Park Service in 1967, and then

President Reagan named him Director of the National Park Service in 1985. His final

project was transitioning the Presidio of San Francisco into a national park.]

Photographic Arts Section, Dec 10: Rarely is the Photographic Arts Section assigned to

do a December program, but this year is an exception. We are presenting a slide program

of Yuletide around the world. Photographed by several different members of our Club,

the pictures include winter and Christmas scenes from Alaska to New Zealand, and from

Bethlehem to the South Seas.


Christmas Ceremonial, Dec 17: Christmas means many things. To Hillsiders it means the

traditional boar’s head and wassail bowl Ceremonial. Dressed in colored robes of

medieval design, we gather to listen to inspired Christmas words and music, to sing old

carols, to participate in the boar’s head processing, to drink from the wassail bowl, and to

converse with friends within the radiance of the yule log in our massive hearth.


December 1998

The Club’s archive of printed monthly newsletters ended with the May 1994 issue. If you

know of a source for any newsletters between 1994 and the Club’s renaissance in the

early 2000s, your historian would love to hear about it!

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