BERKELEY, CA—September 30, 2022
As we reported in the spring, the school suffered a significant fire in the Gables building, and we continue to work with the University to address the impact, urging that they take steps to further secure the school. We are also engaged in dialogue about the new Student Services Master Plan that is developing this academic year that will include consideration of the Anna Head School.
Enhanced security continues to be a high priority for us. The May 2 fire broke out at the base of Gables, spread to the walls, and burned through the roof. While University officials and state investigators reported they could not determine the exact cause, we have accepted the assessment of the fire personnel at the scene that day who said the likely cause was due to one of the many homeless people living on the site. In the summer there were demonstrations at People’s Park when the University tried to begin construction of the new dormitory in August, and there is now fire risk from detritus in the park. Although the University installed temporary fencing in May, we have urged them to put in a stronger fence to protect the property. The Institute for the Study of Societal Issues (ISSI) has now been relocated to downtown Berkeley and the Anna Head School is now shuttered and vacant, making it more vulnerable. With the recent rain, we asked the University to make tarping the exposed section of Gables a high priority, and we are glad to report this will be done the first week in October.
Over the summer, the University began the preparation of a Student Services Master Plan that will consider potential best uses of the Anna Head School to meet UC Berkeley’s needs, including additional housing, student life spaces, a dining commons, and early childhood daycare, among other possibilities. The University is selecting a professional to help them with the master plan process that will likely take the coming academic year. We have presented a possible plan for the Anna Head Campus that would include restoring Channing Hall and Gables and allow for the construction of apartments to help meet the University’s pressing need for student housing (see annaheadschool.org for details).
Alumnae from Anna Head fondly remember their years at the School, recalling the beauty of the campus and the important education they received. You can read alumnae reflections about AHS on our website and link there to the Head-Royce School Magazine Summer 2022 (pp. 35-36) for a special section on alumnae memories.
Community interest in saving Anna Head School continues to be strong. We now have nearly 300 signatories on our petition. Please forward this email to others you know who may wish to sign. In a parallel effort, the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association has started a petition to save AHS and two other UC Berkeley buildings (Hearst Gym and William H. Smyth House/Fernwald). Signing that petition as well will help save AHS.
We continue to seek engagement with the University about the future of the school and believe restoring Anna Head School makes great sense, for UC Berkeley, for the City of Berkeley, and for the school’s historic and architectural legacy. For further information about the campaign to save Anna Head School (annaheadschool.org) contact: Paul Chapman, firstname.lastname@example.org.