Once Upon A Hillside: 25, 50, 75, 100, and 125 years ago by David Mostardi
The First Meeting of the Hillside Club
The Hillside Club sprang into existence October 5, 1898. No, let me qualify that: it did not “spring”—it was the result of earnest thought on the part of many ladies, who recognized the beauty of our hills and the awfulness of many of the houses. Its object was primarily to protect the hills of Berkeley from unsightly grading and the building of unsuitable and disfiguring houses, to do all in our power to beautify these hills and, above all, to c
reate and encourage a decided public opinion on these subjects. We decided to meet fortnightly to listen to a paper upon some related subject and the discussion of the same. We also began the collection of sketches and photographs of hillside houses, which were kept mounted in a portfolio open to all prospective builders. [From an article by Alice Chittenden, published in the San Francisco Call newspaper, 19 May 1901]
A Hillside Club Meeting: Tomorrow afternoon at 4 o’clock there will be a meeting of the Hillside Club at the residence of Mrs. Dressler, Arch Street near Hearst Avenue. It is hoped that there will be a large attendance of the ladies of the Scenic Tract. [Berkeley World Gazette, 18 October 1898]
Meetings: The fire of September 17 th destroyed our Club House. Through the kindness and courtesy of the Town and
Gown Club, we will hold our October meetings in their club house, 2401 Dwight Way.
Notices: The membership of the Club suffered heavily by the fire. Eighty-nine members lost their homes and possessions. A most sincere sympathy is extended to them in appreciation of their losses. As soon as possible, a corrected list of addresses and telephone numbers will be issued.
Business Meeting, October 1: The secretary read communications of invitation to use the Clubhouse of several Berkeley clubs, of sympathy in the Club’s loss, and a letter from the Foreign Trade Board Club of San Francisco stating that the value of their flags which were burned was $116.55. Mrs. Hale made a motion that a committee be appointed to consider the Club site, the old one or a new one etc., such committee
to report at the next business meeting. Mrs. Foulds announced a meeting of the PTA of the Hillside School at the University Elementary School on October 10, for discussion of plans for a new
Hillside School. [The Hillside Elementary School, one of the Hillside Club’s major civic accomplishments in its early years, also burned in the 1923 Fire.]
Insurance: A report on the Clubhouse insurance was filed by Mr. McFarlan. Insurance paid a total of $1500 on the furniture, and $10,000 on the building totaling $11,500.
Cleaning the lot: The report of Mr. Gerwicke on cleaning the Clubhouse lot was made. Moved that the cleaning be left to Mr. Gerwicke with the request that it be done at once.
The Annual Dinner, October 16
The Annual Dinner of this year was attended by the largest number of any dinner in the history of the Club. The members whose homes had been burnt were the guests of those whose homes remained, and all members were hap
py to meet together in such a larger group and realize the warmth of feeling that exists within the Hillside Club.
The Town and Gown Clubhouse was again the meeting place and the brief social time before the dinner was held down
the charming parlor. The hall upstairs had been set for nearly two hundred members and all the seats were filled and more added for the goodly company in attendance. The decorations proclaimed the thoughtfulness of other Clubs since they had been provided by the Town and Gown and Etude Clubs.
The dinner had been planned for simplicity of serving, as a home meal, and began with a procession of gentlemen members who marched to the tables with baked hams which they had brought to carve and serve. The informality asked by the dinner committee begun in this way existed throughout a most delicious and sociable dinner, and the program of songs by a quartet and the singing of all present added pleasure that was suitably brought to a close with the singing of Auld Lang Syne and the old-fashioned
hand-clasp at the end of the song.
Mrs. Hale, the Club president, was toast mistress and Mrs. Leland, the Chairman of the Dinner Committee, and Mrs. Ivie, who was in charge of the music, were most successful, with the help of their committees, in making this gathering one of the most appreciated in the history of the Hillside Club.
Social Evening – Formal: Word has been received by Pony Express that the Moody Party, which has been delayed in the Tahoe area for lack of hay for oxen, has been relieved, and expect to meet the other Miners at “Hillside Gulch” on the 18 th of October.
Plans are being made for a gala occasion, so get out your shooting arms, your mining tools and Levis and party clot
hes. You’ll be hearing from the committee. The Club congratulates Mr. Chester Rubel on the occasion of his appointment as head of the University of California Agricultural Extension Division.
Clubhouse remodeling: Mr. Hamilton, chairman of the Special Building Committee, informs us that the custodian’s quarters and other remodeling is almost completed and should be ready for our formal inspection when we meet for the October Fireside.
Hillside Assembly – Formal: Undaunted by rising costs all down the line, from musicians to refreshments, the Hillside As
blies Committee announces that the five dances in the 1948-49 season will be at the same price as last year: $12 per couple, which includes the $2 federal tax. The Assemblies are sponsored by the Club. Members planning to attend the Assemblies are urged to secure their season tickets by October 8 th , the closing date. Non-members may purchase season tickets by being sponsored by a club member. Dring’s Orchestra has again been secured, which is a guarantee of good music, so if you
want to have fun, come along and swing with Dring.
Fireside Meeting: The committee is pleased to announce that Mr. Joseph Bort, chairman of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, will address us on this occasion. His subject, “Is Regionalism a Blessing or a Threat?” has inspired much discussion recently. A distinguished Berkeley citizen, Joe Bort is known to many Hillside members, and we look forward to an interesting evening with him. [Joseph Bort (1915-1995) served four terms on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, and was the first chairman of the
Metropolitan Transportation Commission. He played a key role in getting BART undergrounded through Berkeley. He was the chief fundraiser for the Lake Merritt Breakfast Club’s Necklace of Lights campaign, and was a member of Berkeley’s First Church of Christ, Scientist.]
-Kings Canyon Expedition: With arrangements made for a three-day bus trip to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Eleanor and Art Briggs are still receiving reservations, although they expect the limit of 44 bus spaces to be reached soon. The bus will leave the clubhouse promptly at 8 o’clock Friday morning and arrive at Sequoia in time for picture taking, fellowship hour, and dinner. Saturday will be spent exploring the two parks by bus, with plenty of stops for shutterbugs along the way. Longer stops will be made at General Grant and General Sherman groves of Sequoia gigantea.
Dramatic Activities Section: Hillsiders will be given a dramatic treat with a production of “Dear Liar”by Jerome Kilty, presented on our own stage by the Oakland Civic Theatre. The play is a fascinating dialogue of the love, hat, art, and wit that flew like sparks between playwright George Bernard Shaw and British actress Mrs. Patrick Campbell. The play is based on a forty-year collection of letters between these two vital theatrical pe
rsonalities. Starring in the role of Shaw will be Ted Smalley, director of the Civic Theatre, and Joanne Post will play Mrs. Campbell.
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!