Another "model home" created especially for the Golden Gate International Exposition opened in Berkeley 75 years ago, Aug. 5, 1939. "Pacifica Home" was sponsored by realty giant Mason-McDuffie, and the Capwell Company of Oakland.

The project was part of a real estate promotion for the new Park Hills subdivision. The house, according to an advertisement in the Aug. 4, 1939 Berkeley Daily Gazette, "takes full advantage of the beauty of its park-like setting and dramatizes the new and finer manner of living offered by beautiful Park Hills."

The largely one-story house -- with a small two-story wing -- formed a "U" around a street-facing courtyard. The exact street address wasn't given. Architect Frederick L.R. Confer designed the house, and Herbert P. Atkinson built it. One feature was a southwest facing "semi-enclosed sundeck or outdoor recreation room."

"The living room stresses formal 18th century decorative treatments. Wall-to-wall deep pile broadloom in chartreuse is the floor covering for the living room and hall ... the dining room is done in American mahogany furniture ... the dinette is done in sleek modern effects accenting aluminum colorings. Metal blinds have aluminum finish and the linoleum is lime green.

"The kitchen is the modern woman's dream of color and convenience and is completely equipped with General Electric appliances."

False earthquake

On Aug. 8, 1939, Berkeley shook with a "terrific earthquake," which was announced the day in advance. It was also localized, occurring entirely within Wheeler Hall on the UC Berkeley campus.


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The occasion was a meeting of the Seismological Society of America and "the temblor will be of the canned variety, for it will be transmitted by radio from the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph Company in San Francisco."

"The noise of crumbling buildings will be heard, crashing automobiles and the peculiar and sickening sound of a heavy quake will be reproduced. Then the manner in which the disaster preparedness agencies of a big city would swing into action will be unfolded." That day, "100 of the Nation's leading astronomers" were also on campus at International House for the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

Accidents

Early August 1939 might have been a bad time to travel around Berkeley. "Fifteen persons were injured in automobile accidents in Berkeley" on the weekend of Aug. 3 and 4. "One motorist was being held on a drunken driving charge as the result of a crash on the East Shore Highway." One of the injured was "Dr. Robert T. Legge, 62, of 6 Roble Road and former medical director of Cowell Memorial Hospital (who) sustained a right knee injury when his automobile crashed into a tree at Claremont Avenue and Webster Street. Dr. Legge apparently lost control of his automobile while adjusting his bifocal glasses, police report."

On Aug. 8, "several hundred" commuters were aboard a Southern Pacific electric train to San Francisco when it "crashed into a truck at Adeline and Russell Streets." The truck driver, delivering wood and coal, was injured but no train passengers required hospitalization.

Woolsey passes

William Edgar Woolsey, "capitalist and civic leader" died at his family home, 52 Oakvale Ave., on Aug. 8, 1939. Immigrating to the Bay Area at the age of 14 in 1868, he attended Oakland High School, then went to UC for three years. He later married the niece of Francis K. Shattuck. The couple ranched in Sonoma County before returning to Berkeley in 1906.

They were responsible for building the Shattuck Hotel on the site of the Shattuck family home and lived in the penthouse for years. They donated the land for the downtown YMCA. And, yes, Woolsey Street in South Berkeley bears the family name.