Davis House faces a number of threats to its continued existence. On a tangible level, there are risks to the structural and aesthetic features of the house. On an intangible level, the house risks losing its historic and cultural contexts, and the lessons that may lie therein.


Maintenance of the structure requires a great deal of money. The house committee and the greater BSC organization have to pay for regular upkeep on all the historic features. Elements like brick and wood erode over time, and need restoration or replacing. Aesthetic features such as carved woodwork require costly specialized labor to restore. More significantly, the house sits almost directly over the Hayward Fault, but has never been retrofitted for earthquake safety. Doing so would cost a great deal of money; similar retrofitting at the university’s Archeological Research Facility cost upwards of $70,000.

To ease this financial burden, Davis House may be able to turn to the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association. This organization advocates for heritage sites around Berkeley, and can be very useful in advocating for the procurement of grants and other financial packages. Similarly the National Trust for Historic Preservation may take an interest in the house because of its advanced age and architectural pedigree. Both groups could be very useful in the establishment of a heritage site at Davis House. Other interested parties may include the Julia Morgan school for Girls in nearby Oakland, as well as California Polytechnic State University, who keep an archive of material related to Julia Morgan.

Original Marble Fire Place in Dining Area

On an intangible level, what risks being lost is the history and heritage from Davis House’s past incarnations: first as private residence, then as sorority. Even its co-op history may be lost in the constantly revolving cast of residents. Much of our goal in establishing a heritage site is to preserve these histories and aspects of cultural heritage, and indeed our interpretive projects serve this goal directly.

However, we may also turn to local and national groups for added support. The Alpha Xi Delta sorority, although no longer at Berkeley, may have an interest in the histories of their alumnae. The Berkeley Student Cooperative may wish to engage more directly with their past, as well. And as a cooperative living house, Davis House may be of interest to NASCO – the organization that represents cooperative living across North America. Finally, we may look to the alumni community of Davis House, dispersed across the country, who continue to take an active interest in the time they spent calling Davis House home.


Posted on December 11, 2015, in Anthro136kF2015, Davis-House. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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