Bernard Maybeck: Visionary Architect
by Sally Byrne Woodbridge
The ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement are now so enshrined that their originally avant-garde position in turn-of-the-century culture is easily forgotten. Enclaves of artists and artisans throughout the state of California felt the exhilaration of charting a fresh aesthetic course that touched life as well as art.
Working in the Bay Area, Bernard Maybeck and Charles Keeler were in the thick of this adventure. Not only did Maybeck design a number of houses for Berkeley's north-side neighborhood between 1895 and 1910, but that neighborhood became a laboratory for their shared ideas.
Local homeowners organized Arts and Crafts guilds for the production of furniture, pottery, metal, and leatherwork for their own homes. Charles and Louise Keeler had such a guild in their house, in which they made their own furniture and sold their designs to others.
This craftsmanly activity was certainly congenial to Maybeck, who designed furniture and other interior furnishings for family use and for clients. Unfortunately, whatever he may have produced for his houses on Berkeley's north side, including his own, did not survive the sweeping 1923 fire.
Nature walks, gardening, running around the block (as jogging was then called), and sleeping on open porches were also part of the daily round.
Cedric Wright, a well-known photographer and amateur musician, even incorporated an indoor-outdoor bed into his Maybeck house. The bed was on a track and could be rolled into a screened enclosure in good weather, then rolled back inside when the weather turned bad.
This article is excerpted from "Bernard Maybeck: Visionary Architect" by Sally Byrne Woodbridge, with permission of the publisher, Abbeville Press, Inc.