Walking Through History

Linda Wing

Two of my interests are walking to stay fit and learning about American history. Upon discovering 41 Walking Tours by the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA), I found that I could do both at the same time. The booklet offers walking maps along with descriptions of structures and settings where remarkable figures in history made their mark. Intrigued, I began the tours in 2021, in the company of an OLLI friend. We completed all 41 in 2023. Here are examples of what we learned.

We learned that Phoebe Apperson Hearst was one of the University of California’s greatest benefactors. Her 1891 donation funded a scholarship program for women that still exists today. In 1897, Hearst became the first woman to serve on the university’s board of regents. She opened a student center in her home where women could meet and socialize. At the time, women were excluded from the social structures available to male students. As well, Hearst acted as a strong and effective voice for the hiring of women to join the faculty.

Phoebe Apperson Hearst, 1890-1899

In 1898-1899, Hearst financed an international competition to choose an architect to develop a campus master plan. This plan led to the building of the university’s most iconic structures: the Campanile and Sather Gate. Hearst, along with architect John Galen Howard, designed the Hearst Memorial Mining Building, named in honor of George Hearst, Phoebe’s husband. George made a fortune in mining and represented California in the US Senate. The handsome Hearst building was completed in 1907.

In addition to playing a pivotal role in the early development of the university, Hearst was a major force in promoting kindergarten education. She made possible the nation’s first free kindergartens for children from working-class families and established training schools for kindergarten teachers in San Francisco and the District of Columbia. Moreover, Hearst co-founded the National Parent Teacher Association whose affiliates remain active in primary schools today.