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The Heart of Berkeley: 

The Historic McGee-Spaulding District

October 13, 2013 - March 29, 2014
Berkeley History Center

The McGee-Spaulding-Hardy District Historic Interest Group brings to the Berkeley History Center an extraordinary exhibit following the evolution of the district from the Ohlone Indians and Domingo Peralta to the 1854 James McGee farm, from rural to urban life in the early 20th century to the radical communes of the 60s and 70s and the mayoral race of Jerry Rubin.

At the exhibit opening, October 13, 2013 at 2 pm, Martin Reynolds and Jim Novosel are the featured speakers. Martin Reynolds grew up in the district in the 70s and 80s, spending time in the radical commune McGee's Farm. He is senior editor for community engagement for Bay Area News Group. Berkeley architect Jim Novosel owns the area’s landmarked Hunter House.

The event is free and wheelchair accessible.


In the heart of Berkeley lies the Historic McGee-Spaulding-Hardy District (bounded by Martin Luther King, Jr. Way, Dwight Way, Sacramento Street and University Avenue). The McGee-Spaulding-Hardy Historic Interest Group has accomplished what every Berkeley neighborhood wished they had. Since they formed in 2000, they have searched, recorded and preserved information about the district and its families to provide an intimate history. 

This is a residential area rich in historic architecture, a civic area with major government buildings, including Old City Hall, numerous schools and churches of all types, and an historic commercial zone running along University Avenue. Strawberry Creek, an original source of water, but now covered with asphalt and earth, runs through it to San Francisco Bay. In the last quarter of the 19th century, thanks to a gift of land from Irish immigrant farmer James McGee, the first Catholic church, convent and schools were built in the district, making it the hub of Catholic life in Berkeley. But well into the 20th century, it remained mostly rural farmland, separating older Ocean View on the west from the burgeoning University community to the east. All major periods of Berkeley domestic architecture are represented there, from old Victorians, bungalows, and craftsman cottages to 1940s wartime tract-style houses, making the district a sort of unofficial Preservation Park. Beginning in the 1950s, seeds took root that fostered the area’s radical communes and political activism of the sixties and seventies. Even today, despite gentrification and soaring home prices, the district remains one of the most solidly left-wing areas of Berkeley.

Free; donations accepted. Wheelchair accessible.
Regular hours: Thursday - Saturday from 1-4 pm

Berkeley Historical Society’s Berkeley History Center

1931 Center Street

Telephone: 510-848-0181


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