Christopher Bazil: Exploring the Bancroft

March 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

William F. Lewis

Wow, I can’t say enough about today’s trip to the Bancroft Library. I could have easily spent the entire day looking through the items that I called up!

This week I spent some time looking through OskiCat in order to locate some potential research materials specifically located at the Bancroft. Like some of our fellow class members have mentioned, the Bancroft collection is amazing, but can also seem limited depending on what you are looking for. I found some great historical resources for architectural stuff, mostly about Victorian era home. Here is a list of the items I went to check out:

William F. Lewis: A San Francisco House Builder

Documentation of Victorian and post Victorian residential and commercial buildings, City of Alameda

Heritage Lost: Two Grand Portland Houses Through the Lens of Minor White

The Heritage Lost text is incredibly beautiful. The book combines insightful text about 1940’s era sentiments towards Victorian buildings, and includes an amazing collection of black and white photos. The two houses pictured were documented because there were about to be torn down. The two houses represent some of the highest order of Queen Anne style architecture ever assembled in the United States. If you think San Francisco has some epic houses, think again. This book is incredibly sad because it represents a major part of our collective heritage that is forever lost.  Heritage Lost could become a good source for my research topic because it helps clearly define the period in which American’s stopped building in this style. It clearly defines a shift in American attitudes towards the image of “home.”

I had really high hopes for the post Victorian, Alameda text. It turns out that the book is a collection of hard data on nearly every home build in the City of Alameda before 1907. A great resource for someone looking to perhaps find out more about a house they live in, yet not much use for me. It’s sorta like a phone book but for house data. It includes the year built, cost, original owner, and very few have the architects listed. I must admit though, I really admire the guy who put this together; in his introduction, he claims that it took him ten years to do all the research!

And finally, William F. Lewis: A San Francisco House Builder. This text takes the cake. This is the story of William F. Lewis, a man who worked as a carpenter and home builder during the San Francisco housing boom of the 1870’s and 1880’s. There is tons of information in here, and tells a story not often heard — the one about the people who swung hammers to build our great cities. The text was written by a San Francisco historian who interviewed Lewis’ son right before he died. It combines oral history and primary research to paint a vivid picture of what life was like back then. More than anything, this text is a great example of what an excellent 101 could be. I will definitely refer to this book when my 101 comes around!

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