BERNARD maybeck’s SENGER HOUSE

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This exceptional First Bay Region home was designed by Bernard Maybeck for Berkeley German professor J.H Senger
 
It is a complex structure showcasing Maybeck’s playful and creative use of unusual combinations of details.
 
Here he has combined Tudor half timbering and traditional shingle style exterior elements.
 
The house is lavishly appointed inside with grand public spaces that showcase Maybeck’s immense talent for the dramatic.
 
It is this immense creativity and unbridled love of invention that makes Maybeck’s work so admired still today.

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JH Senger

Professor UC Berkeley and CoFounder of The Sierra Club

 

J.H. Senger was a native of Prussia, born in 1848. He came to the University of California, Berkeley as an instructor in German after taking his A.B. degree in 1882. In 1888 he received his degree of Doctor of Philosophy, and the same year was made instructor in German and Greek. He took a very active part in the affairs of the University and endeared himself in the hearts of thousands of students who attended his classes.

Dr. Senger was known as one of the most able philologists in the country, and contributed many articles to the Journal of the Philological Association. Besides being an ardent lover of nature, particularly the mountains, he was also devoted to music and art.

 

The Founding of the Sierra Club

 

Senger was one of the leading architects of the early movement to recognize the incredible beauty and value of California’s natural wonders.  

 

As early as 1886 he conceived the idea of establishing a library of mountaineering literature in the Yosemite Valley, and using this as a headquarters of mountain exploration. Later the idea expanded, and in 1890 the formation of a Sierra Club was pretty generally demanded by those who were actively engaged in pushing more deeply each year into the then practically undescribed regions of the High Sierra. Professor Senger discussed the matter with many of his friends, notably with Professor William D. Armes, of the state university, with Mr. Warren Olney, of San Francisco, and with John Muir.

 

On Saturday, January 16, Professor Senger called at Mr. Olney's office and the matter was discussed, this being the first of several such informal discussions. Finally, it was decided to call a meeting of interested persons for purposes of organization.

 

The following letter from John Muir, dated May 10, 1892, is the earliest document from him bearing on this subject (note, see the Historical Images & Documents gallery below for a photo of the original handwritten letter).

Shortly afterward, on May 22, 1982, came a second letter from Mr. Muir, which was as follows

On Saturday, June 4, 1892, and at this the agreement of association, the articles of incorporation, and the by-laws were signed. The first board of directors was elected and consisted of: John Muir, President; Warren Olney, First Vice-President; J. C. Branner, Second Vice-President, William D. Armes, Secretary; J. H. Senger, Corresponding Secretary;  Mark B. Kerr, Treasurer; D. S. Jordan; W. D. Johnson and R. M. Price. It will be noticed that John Muir was the first president, and he held that office for twenty-two years, until the time of his death.

J.H. Senger presided, as acting chair, over the first general meeting of the Sierra Club on Friday September 16, 1892 at the hall of the California Academy of Sciences, 809 Market Street, San Francisco.

Building the Senger House

The Senger House was designed by Bernard Maybeck, and construction commenced in February1907, and was completed that spring. According to the notice published in the Berkeley Daily Gazette on February 25, 1907; the estimated cost of the building was $8000, a handsome sum for the day.

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SENGER HOUSE History

Maybeck’s complex design for the Senger house is eclectic, blending disparate motifs to create a highly picturesque whole, but as Kenneth H. Cardwell noted, the architect “emphasized Germanic forms ranging from the medieval to the baroque to reflect his client’s interests.”

Read a comprehensive history of the neighborhood and The Senger House 

 

The Senger House and Its Environment by Daniella Thompson

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SENGER HOUSE GALLERY

Exterior Images

Senger House Front
Senger House Front
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Entry
Entry
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Entry
Entry
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Senger House Rear
Senger House Rear
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Formal Entry
Formal Entry
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Entry Detail
Entry Detail
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Rear Yard
Rear Yard
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Detail
Detail
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The Barn
The Barn
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The Barn
The Barn
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Interior Images

Select photographs courtesy Ira Serkes of Compass Realty

 
Living Room
Living Room

Courtesy Ira Serkes

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Entry Stairs
Entry Stairs

Courtesy Ira Serkes

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Copper and Gold infused plaster ceiling
Copper and Gold infused plaster ceiling

Courtesy Ira Serkes

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The 'Erker' - aka Breakfast Nook
The 'Erker' - aka Breakfast Nook

Courtesy Ira Serkes

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Living and Dining Room
Living and Dining Room
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Living Room & Fireplace
Living Room & Fireplace
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Living Room & Fireplace
Living Room & Fireplace
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Fireplace
Fireplace

Tiles from Germany

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Fireplace
Fireplace

"Ring in the Love of Truth and Right, Ring in the Thousand Years of Peace"

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The 'Erker' - aka Breakfast Nook
The 'Erker' - aka Breakfast Nook
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The 'Erker' - aka Breakfast Nook
The 'Erker' - aka Breakfast Nook
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Music Room/ Formal Entry
Music Room/ Formal Entry
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Kitchen Detail
Kitchen Detail
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Butlers Pantry
Butlers Pantry
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Master Bedroom Den
Master Bedroom Den
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Original Design and Elevations

Historical Images & Documents

Elevation Right Side
Elevation Left Side
Elevation Front
Elevation Rear
Floorplan - Design
Bay View Place 1911 Map
Senger House
Senger House
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Establishing Big Basin State Park, 1900.
Establishing Big Basin State Park, 1900.

Stanford University - May 1, 1900: Prof. J. H. Senger, UC; Dr. David Starr Jordan, President, Stanford; Prof. W.R. Dudley, Botany Department, Stanford; F. W. Billings, Santa Cruz Chamber; Prof. J. M. Stillman, Stanford; J. Q. Packard, Santa Cruz Chamber; Lieutenant Governor William T. Jeter, Santa Cruz Chamber; Judge John E. Richards; Mrs. Carrie Stevens Walter; Prof. James McNaughton; Prof. Charles B. Wing, Stanford; Mr. John J. Montgomery, Santa Clara College; Prof. R. L. Green, Stanford.

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Senger House 1907
Senger House 1907
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Sänger front stairs
Sänger front stairs

Maybeck personal photo

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Sänger Fireplace
Sänger Fireplace

Maybeck personal photo

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Senger Barn 1916
Senger Barn 1916
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Panorama w: Senger House
Panorama w: Senger House
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Muir letter to Senger 5-10-1892
Muir letter to Senger 5-10-1892
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J. H. Senger Obituary
J. H. Senger Obituary

Sierra Club Bulletin

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WRITINGS ABOUT THE SENGER HOUSE

 
 
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ABOUT BERNARD MAYBECK

Independent, visionary, dramatic, eclectic — Independent, visionary, dramatic, eclectic — Bernard Maybeck is a luminary of American architecture whose work is particularly prized in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the majority of his masterworks can be found.

 

Maybeck was born in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1862 to German immigrant parents, who encouraged him to draw and paint. Maybeck’s father, a woodcarver, sent his son to Paris to study furniture making. But young Maybeck soon chose his own path and enrolled in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where he studied architecture until returning to the U.S. in 1886.

 

In pursuit of opportunity, Maybeck migrated west and arrived in California in 1890, where, like other young architects of the time, he took inspiration from the local environment. In 1894, Maybeck joined the faculty of UC Berkeley as a drawing instructor in the Civil Engineering College; from 1898 through 1903, he served as the university’s first professor of architecture.

 

After leaving UC Berkeley, Maybeck established an architectural office in San Francisco, specializing in homes, churches, and club buildings. He experimented with innovative building materials and developed an eclectic and personal style combining Spanish mission, Gothic, and Japanese influences. Hallmarks of Maybeck’s work include use of native woods, large windows, handcrafted details, masterful use of color, and integration with the landscape.

 

Maybeck designed many of the Bay Area’s most treasured buildings. His homes, both small and grand, incorporated features considered radical at the time, including shingles, rough redwood interiors, and huge hand-wrought fireplaces.  His public commissions include the First Church of Christ, Scientist (1910) in Berkeley — considered Maybeck’s masterpiece — with its Gothic influences, brilliant color, and all interior furnishings designed by the architect.

 

From 1913 to 1915, Maybeck also created the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, the most popular building at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition and the event’s only surviving structure. Designed as an art gallery, in the style of an ancient ruin, the Palace displays Maybeck’s flair for drama and his passion for buildings in harmony with their natural surroundings.

 

The American Institute of Architecture honored Maybeck twice during his lifetime — with citation in 1913 and with a Gold Medal in 1951. Maybeck died in California in 1957. is a luminary of American architecture whose work is particularly prized in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the majority of his masterworks can be found.

 

Maybeck was born in New York’s Greenwich Village in 1862 to German immigrant parents, who encouraged him to draw and paint. Maybeck’s father, a woodcarver, sent his son to Paris to study furniture making. But young Maybeck soon chose his own path and enrolled in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, where he studied architecture until returning to the U.S. in 1886.

 

In pursuit of opportunity, Maybeck migrated west and arrived in California in 1890, where, like other young architects of the time, he took inspiration from the local environment. In 1894, Maybeck joined the faculty of UC Berkeley as a drawing instructor in the Civil Engineering College; from 1898 through 1903, he served as the university’s first professor of architecture.

 

After leaving UC Berkeley, Maybeck established an architectural office in San Francisco, specializing in homes, churches, and club buildings. He experimented with innovative building materials and developed an eclectic and personal style combining Spanish mission, Gothic, and Japanese influences. Hallmarks of Maybeck’s work include use of native woods, large windows, handcrafted details, masterful use of color, and integration with the landscape.

 

Maybeck designed many of the Bay Area’s most treasured buildings. His homes, both small and grand, incorporated features considered radical at the time, including shingles, rough redwood interiors, and huge hand-wrought fireplaces.  His public commissions include the First Church of Christ, Scientist (1910) in Berkeley — considered Maybeck’s masterpiece — with its Gothic influences, brilliant color, and all interior furnishings designed by the architect.

 

From 1913 to 1915, Maybeck also created the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, the most popular building at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition and the event’s only surviving structure. Designed as an art gallery, in the style of an ancient ruin, the Palace displays Maybeck’s flair for drama and his passion for buildings in harmony with their natural surroundings.

 

The American Institute of Architecture honored Maybeck twice during his lifetime — with citation in 1913 and with a Gold Medal in 1951. 

 

Maybeck died in California in 1957.