First Bay Area Tradition (1880-1915)

National Register #04001154: Swedenborgian Church in San Francisco Swedenborgian Church of San Francisco
Designed by Joseph Worcester and Bernard Maybeck
Built 1895
Photographed 8 February 2009
All Saints Episcopal Church by Willis Polk All Saints' Episcopal Church
1350 Waller Street in San Francisco
Built 1904
Photographed 15 June 2012
(Click Photos to Zoom)

The First Bay Tradition, centered in San Francisco and Berkeley, began in the 1880s as a reaction to the Victorian and Beaux-Arts architectural styles which were predominant at the end of the 19th century. The First Bay Tradition had much in common with the Arts and Crafts Movement in England, the Shingle Style in the eastern United Sates, and the Craftsman style perfected by Greene & Greene in Pasadena.

Buildings designed in the First Bay Area Tradition style are unique to San Francisco, Berkeley, and other parts of the Bay Area. They are simple dwellings clad in unpainted redwood shingles, small in scale, with informal or open planning, a creative relationship to the site and the outdoors, a woodsy feeling, often a hip or gable roof, often natural redwood interiors, and with sparse ornamentation carefully selected from a wide eclectic range and wittily applied.

First Bay Tradition buildings are characterized by:

  • Sensitivity to their surroundings and the unique requirements of the site and client
  • Natural materials, particularly redwood and shingles
  • Modern building methods and materials blended with witty historic details
  • Emphasis on craftsmanship, volume, form, and asymmetry.

Leading architects of the First Bay Area Tradition were Joseph Worcester, A. C. Schweinfurth, Bernard Maybeck, Willis Polk, A. Page Brown, Ernest Coxhead, John Galen Howard, Julia Morgan, and Louis Christian Mullgardt.

The First Bay Tradition was followed by the Second Bay Tradition with Henry Higby Gutterson and John Hudson Thomas as transitional architects.

Name Year Address City Sort Address Sort Name
Drawing Building1914Hearst Avenue Between Euclid and Le Roy AvenuesUC BerkeleyHearstDrawing Building
First Congregational Church 1908165 East Mill Avenue PortervilleMill E 0165First Congregational Church
House of the Flag18601652-1656 Taylor StreetSan FranciscoTaylor 1652House of the Flag
North Gate Hall1906North GateUC BerkeleyNorth GateNorth Gate Hall
Residence19053236 Pacific AvenueSan FranciscoPacific 3236Residence
Saint John's Presbyterian Church190525 Lake StreetSan FranciscoLake 0025Saint John's Presbyterian Church
Swedenborgian Church 18953200 Washington Street San FranciscoWashington 3200Swedenborgian Church
Aetna Springs Resort19301600 Aetna Springs RoadPope ValleyAetnaAetna Springs Resort
Waybur House19013232 PacificSan FranciscoPacific 3232Waybur House
McNear House1906121 Knight DriveSan RafaelKnight Drive 0121 McNear House

Architectural Styles | Architects