In January, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín expressed his belief that the historic Anna Head School, now part of UC Berkeley, is worthy of being saved. Commenting on the campaign to save the school, he noted: “I strongly support their work. We need to preserve Anna Head.” The Mayor’s backing has bolstered the efforts of those working with UC Berkeley who seek to make it a priority to save the school, which is landmarked by both the City of Berkeley and the National Register of Historic Places. The campaign is an example of the Anna Head community “coming together with great solutions, including possibly providing housing for students.” Along with the Mayor’s strong leadership, all members of the Berkeley City Council have voiced their support to save the school.
Rigel Robinson, who represents the district where the Anna Head School is located at Channing and Bowditch, was one of the first community leaders to signal his enthusiasm for the effort. Robinson is a graduate of UC Berkeley, where he served with the UC Student Association, and is the youngest person ever elected to the Council. About Anna Head School, he said: “By saving Anna Head School, we have a beautiful opportunity to preserve and celebrate our history while potentially bringing new housing or student services to the campus community that so desperately needs it. Addressing the financial challenges at Anna Head could have a significant price tag, and we may need the support of the state or private donors to meet the costs if a viable master plan is to be developed. That is a vision we can all get behind!”
Sophie Hahn was raised in Berkeley, is a UC Berkeley graduate, and has been a member of the Berkeley City Council since 2016, representing the neighborhood where she grew up and raised her own family. She has earned a reputation as a strong advocate for preserving the city's architectural heritage, and she has worked for affordable housing, to address homelessness, and on behalf of Berkeley’s schools. Hahn observed: “As we build a vibrant future for our City in partnership with UC Berkeley, we must also preserve exceptional sites that mark our past. Anna Head School is a legacy site with great architectural and cultural significance. I am delighted to support its preservation and the revitalization of Anna Head for the next Century.”
A UC Berkeley alumna, Vice Mayor Kate Harrison has devoted her professional career to criminal justice reform and social service programs, and has been a community volunteer with the Berkeley Food and Housing Program and on behalf of the city’s parks. She said that "The Anna Head School adds enormously to the quality of the built environment in Berkeley. As an institution that promoted equal education for girls and women, it also stands as a powerful symbol of women's freedom in an era when that is under attack. As a third-generation woman graduate of CAL, I cannot emphasize enough the need to protect this institution.”
Susan Wengraf has lived in Berkeley for fifty years and has served the community for almost that long. After her early career in teaching, she became involved in the city, serving on the Planning Commission and later on the City Council, working to address the housing crisis and promoting ways to improve communication between UC students and the city. About the Anna Head project, she said: "The University of California has an amazing opportunity to preserve the legacy of an important woman who pioneered in the field of education and to preserve an extraordinary building, while forming a close partnership with the community. Every effort should be made to respect our history and use the buildings to serve future generations of students.”
Representing the Elmwood District, Lori Droste has a deep background in service and commitment to building community, having taught high school, advocated for increasing housing availability and affordability, and served on the board of the National Women’s Political Caucus. As one of the few members of the council with young children, she has a keen interest in quality education. As she observed: “An Anna Head project that combines significant new student housing with the preservation and/or on-site relocation of the school's historic structures would be a win-win-win for the City and University communities, Berkeley's architectural heritage, and commemorating Anna Head's role in women's education and empowerment. I would be delighted to see a well-crafted project move forward through State, federal, or private financial support.”
Terry Taplin has devoted himself to improving the quality of life for all in his hometown of Berkeley and was elected to the City Council in 2020. Educated in Berkeley’s public schools, a graduate of Berkeley High School, with two degrees from St. Mary’s College, Taplin is a poet dedicated to environmental sustainability and resilience and an advocate for increasing affordable housing in the city. As he said: “Anna Head represents an important piece of Berkeley’s history at the forefront of gender equality and progressive education. As our community continues to grow and change, it is critical that this history be integrated and highlighted to inspire future generations of students and residents alike.”
A fifth generation Berkeley native, attorney Ben Bartlett has been a lifelong advocate for equity and inclusion. The son of political activists, he has worked as a member of the Council to build community in the city through innovation and environmental protection with a special focus on affordable housing, public safety, and racial justice. Regarding the campaign to save the school, he said: “Here’s the thing, if we can preserve our history and build more housing for students, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t support Anna Head School.”
A UC Berkeley alumna with a master’s degree in public policy, Rashi Kesarwani worked in San Francisco and Sacramento on health and social services programs. As a new member of the City Council, she has focused on promoting an inclusive sustainable community for everyone by addressing homelessness and the shortage of affordable homes, and our long-term under-investment in infrastructure. She said: “I support the process to identify and develop the best use by the University for the Anna Head property. The property has a rich history and could potentially add much needed housing for students.”
The committee working to Save Anna Head School is grateful for the strong support of the City of Berkeley leaders. Their endorsements demonstrate that restoring the historic Anna Head School is a win-win, for the City of Berkeley, and for UC Berkeley and its historic legacy. For further information about the campaign to save Anna Head School (annaheadschool.org) contact: Paul Chapman, firstname.lastname@example.org.