Blogging Bayport Alameda

June 13, 2022

Red flags, part 1

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:03 am

There are a few major red flags in the McKay historic nomination application. I have posted it all on Twitter as I think about new things to search or new information comes my way but someone advised that I should make it a wee more organized in case I (or someone else) wants to submit this to SHPO/SHRC to understand their due diligence process. The heavily revised nomination is currently standing on two main criteria (1) significant because of the connection to the merchant marines and (2) Harry Bruno, the architect, was notable and the way he executed the style was special.

Let’s talk first about Harry Bruno and what the nomination says about his resume. In the narrative section:

It was only after I had done the research around the two properties that the narrative and list would make appear that it was listed on the National Register did I notice the cagey language surrounding that section. If you notice it doesn’t say that these projects are listed on the National Register but rather “project included in National Register property” or “included within properties listed in the National Register.” If you were to read this quickly it would leave you with the understanding that these are Harry Bruno designs that have been recognized on the National Register of Historic Places but they’re not.

Let’s first address the Patrick Rodgers Farm at 315 Cortsen Road in Pleasant Hill. This site was pretty easy to find, it maps to a Heritage Center website and the farm is touted as being listed on the National Register. However, according to the nomination application, the buildings under discussion were all built prior to the 1900s.

While the application mentions that a new building was built on the acreage at some point there is no mention of who the architect is because that is not what makes this property significant. The significance, which you would not glean from the McKay nomination application, was in the person who lived on the property and the agricultural connection of the farm:

The next property is listed simply as the Stanley Dollar Residence in Walnut Creek which made this very hard to find. It wasn’t until I uncovered this document from the City of Walnut Creek that I understood that there were two Stanley Dollar Houses: Stanley Dollar Sr. House and Stanley Dollar Jr. House.

But it is, in fact, the Stanley Dollar Sr. House that is on the national register not the one enlarged by Harry Bruno.

Now for those of you who are willing to give the nominating party the benefit of the doubt that she was so confused by all the information she was processing, I’ll add that in her list of resources she has this:

Which means she was aware of the same document I linked to and knows that Harry Bruno is not referenced in the application and that the significance of the property was not in its architecture even if Harry Bruno had been the architect on record.

Similarly, there is a reference to Watergate in Emeryville which the nominating party claims was done in collaboration with William Wurster.

There is nothing, anywhere, which attributes any part of the design of Watergate to Harry Bruno. This is the only information I could find about the architecture of Watergate:

Without any information to support this contention, it is the responsibility of SHPO to ask for evidence of what is alleged as, supposedly, the connection to William Wurster is supposed to elevate the prominence of Harry Bruno that he may not be able to shoulder on his own.

6 Comments »

  1. Thanks for doing this research. Amazing that the ‘professionals’ at the State have not figured this out.
    It is laughable that “Watergate” in Emeryville might be considered a significant architecture accomplishment .. in. a good way. What is significant is that it was built on a garbage dump and bay fill that exceeded the permit.

    Looking forward to Part 2!

    Comment by Ron Mooney — June 13, 2022 @ 8:12 am

  2. A Watergate reference from 1972 was amusing

    Comment by dave — June 13, 2022 @ 9:07 am

  3. Harry Bruno’s name is on the cover of the blueprints, and the blueprint contain “38 pages” of Harry Bruno revisions

    But spin on….

    Comment by Spin Diesel — June 13, 2022 @ 9:52 am

    • 38 pages of *possible* Harry Bruno revisions. They are unsigned and the only thing that *may* make them Harry Bruno revisions is fancy lettering because they are unsigned.

      Out of more than 200 + blueprint plans, 38 revisions is nothing particularly since it’s structural stuff and not design related. Or did you, like the nominating party, fail to look at the plans too?

      Comment by Lauren Do — June 13, 2022 @ 10:41 am

      • I suspect that “you” and “nominating party” are the same entity. Hi Boris and/or Natasha!

        Comment by Bullwinkle — June 13, 2022 @ 11:40 am

  4. Can anyone explain why this is going through the SHPO process again? My understanding is, if the mayor and the historical advisory board rejected the historical consideration, then legally the state cannot take up consideration. It should be a non-starter.

    Comment by Confounded — June 13, 2022 @ 10:13 am


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