The Hillside Club Fireside meetings are held on the first Monday of most months (January, February, March, April, June, October, November). 

But during 2020 our schedule is changing along with so many in the world. Stay tuned for announcements of monthly virtual sessions during 2020, still on the first Mondays of the month.

They are open to the public and admission is free to members, with a suggested donation for non-members. No one is turned away for lack of funds. The meetings begin with Club business, followed by a featured speaker.  (See start time and info on this month's speaker below).


Fireside meetings are for civic engagement, a good way to see the club and get to know the members. Club members, our neighbors, and the general public are encouraged to attend.

We hope to see you here.

Fireside Meetings in 2020

January 6th "Around the Fireside" a gathering of members with musical entertainment by two of our professional musician members: David Mostardi on accordion, Celia Ramsay vocalist, both accompanied by Shira Kammen on violin.


February 3rd: Berkeley Vice Mayor Sophie Hahn: Sustainability and other Key Berkeley Initiatives


March 2nd: Dr. Leslie Saul-Gershenz and Norm Gershenz:

 Is insect biodiversity, biomass and abundance declining?

—What does the scientific literature say and what can YOU do?


Starting April 6th and continuing through May: Due to COVID/S.I.P we have been having member Virtual Fireside gatherings to check in on members of our community, including sharing of resources, tours of member gardens, and a Virtual trip with travel photos from our members.


June 1st: Our first Virtual Fireside Presentation: Member Carol Bier: Symmetry and Islamic Aesthetics


July 6th will be an online Community Event, open to the public.

Like last year, there will be no member meeting, so it will start at 7 pm.

The topic will be Plastic and the Pandemic: regaining momentum to ban single use plastics. This event corresponds with the beginning of Plastic-Free July, an international movement to raise awareness of the significant costs and health risks that result from plastic that is used once, and remains on the planet forever.


August we are planning an interview with one of our members to discuss their work. 

Sept and December are normally the Fall and Holiday dinners. Stay tuned as we determine what makes sense for us as we learn more about the status of the virus.

October 5th we will have either a live or virtual presentation, as appropriate.

November 2nd

Due to COVID19 SIP our next Fireside Meeting will be held via ZOOM. 

Monday, June 1

Members: Join us at 6:30pm
Fireside Talk from 7:00-7:30pm 

Questions to follow.


Fireside ZOOM.jpg

"Symmetry and Islamic Aesthetics" 

Presentation by Carol Bier

A leisurely sojourn to the Alhambra and the Taj Mahal, this illustrated lecture will explore aspects of symmetry and beauty that define great monuments of Islamic art and architecture. Together we will explore the relationship of symmetry and Islamic aesthetics to gain a deeper understanding of beauty.
Hillside Club member, Carol Bier is Research Scholar with the Center for Islamic Studies, here in Berkeley at the Graduate Theological Union. She will share on-location photos, including some from her most recent visit to India in early March, just before the global pandemic was recognized. As an historian of Islamic art, Carol has traveled and published extensively on Islamic art and architecture, including two books and numerous peer-reviewed articles in academic journals.


As part of our Fireside Lecture Series, the Hillside Club is proud to address the complex issues

of species decline in a pair of talks that provide thoughtful science,

and recommendations for positive changes that can make a difference.




Monday, March 2, at 7:30pm

Is insect biodiversity, biomass and abundance declining?

—What does the scientific literature say and what can YOU do?


Presented by a team of environmental scientists: 

Leslie Saul-Gershenz, Ph.D, UC Davis, evolutionary ecologist & entomologist

and Norm Gershenz, conservation biologist and CEO of SaveNature.Org



What factors are affecting native bees and insect populations in general in California, and around the world? Our speakers will discuss the latest papers and the body of literature discussing insect declines including habitat alteration and fragmentation, insecticides, and climate change.

They will also share how they think you can participate in making a positive difference.

Help spread the word,

share or print a flyer.

Thank you!

Monday, April 6, at 7:30pm

Garden As If Life Depends On It!

—how Bringing Back the Natives can help you do so


Kathy Kramer, founder & coordinator of the Bringing Back the Natives Tour  



We have all heard about drastic declines in bird populations, and the insect apocalypse. Come learn how you can help reverse these trends in your own garden, and with inspiration from the Bringing Back the

Natives Garden Tour, you can transform your garden into a place that provides food,

shelter and nesting areas for wildlife. 


Please stay after the talk to enjoy tea and cookies. 


Open to the public, with a requested $10 donation (or $15 for both talks) to benefit our speaker fund. 

No-one turned away for lack of funds. Free to Hillside Club members.







Don't miss Bringing Back the Natives Tour:

Sunday, May 3, 2020

For more information on tickets, how to get involved and more,

please click on the image below.


The Hillside Club was founded by a group of Berkeley women who wished to protect the Berkeley hillsides by promoting the development of the community in environmentally sensitive ways.

In 1895, Bernard Maybeck built a steep-roofed, unpainted redwood house for Charles Keeler
on the corner of Highland Place and Ridge Road. It was the architect's first Berkeley commission. The house blended with the surrounding hills, and Keeler was worried that the

effect would "become completely ruined when others come and build stupid white-painted boxes all about us." "You must see to it," advised Maybeck, "that all the houses about you are in keeping with your own." The germ had been planted, and Keeler began recruiting his friends to buy land and build artistic houses next to his own.

A year later, Volney Moody, a retired banker, commissioned A.C. Schweinfurth to build him a clinker-brick house on the corner of Le Conte and Le Roy avenues. Keeler persuaded Moody and his family to join his group of neighbors. Moody's two stepdaughters, Margaret Robinson and May Gray, were artistically inclined—Madge (who would later marry the photographer Oscar Maurer) was a writer and lecturer, May a musician. Along with a few other women of the neighborhood, they organized the Hillside Club to disseminate Maybeck's architectural principles in a more formal fashion. 

The club's stated mission was "to protect the hills of Berkeley from unsightly grading and the building of unsuitable and disfiguring houses; to do all in our power to beautify these hills and above all to create and encourage a decided public opinion on these subjects."

Thanks to the efforts of these women, the Hillside School was built in 1900 on the corner of Virginia Street and Le Roy Avenue. It was a rustic brown-shingle structure with unpeeled tree trunks serving as porch posts and rough branches making up the porch railing. "For the first time," wrote Keeler, "a note of artistic simplicity had been incorporated in a Berkeley school building."

In 1902, seeking more political clout, the club invited men to join. Among the male members were major business figures such as Frank Wilson, the developer of Daley's Scenic Park; notable artists like William Keith and Oscar Maurer; key university officials, among them U.C. President Benjamin Ide Wheeler and Supervising Architect John Galen Howard; and cultural leaders like Maybeck and Keeler.

In 1905, a lot was purchased on Cedar Street, and Maybeck began designing an artistic clubhouse. The building opened to great acclaim on September 8, 1906. It was the venue for many prominent cultural and social activities. The building was destroyed in the great fire of 1923. A year later, Annie Maybeck's brother, the architect John White, designed the current clubhouse, designated a City of Berkeley Landmark in 2004. 

As time passed the club changed its emphasis to include dramatic presentations and a broader range of cultural events, and by the late 1920s a dancing committee was formed. The club's focus changed from civic affairs to the social and cultural life of the members.

During the late 1930s and 1940s regular monthly programs were instituted and continued despite wartime food shortages and rationing which complicated the club dinners. Also, during this time the club did its part for the war effort, opening the club one day a month as a U.S.O. center.

In the 1950s the club relaxed the residence requirements to include new members living in such exotic places as El Cerrito, Lafayette, Walnut Creek, Concord, and San Francisco.


As the times have changed, so has the club, but as one historian commented,"...tradition is the fine cement that binds our club...makes it an organization which is firmly established in Berkeley...adds to its charm...and provides the solidarity so necessary when diverse people

work together."  Bernard Maybeck said of the club, “This is an organization of neighbors who like one another

and wish to have a sort of common home for the hours of their meeting together.  It must feel that way!”
Even today, in this fast-paced computer age, the Hillside Club provides historical
perspective and a sense of community with its social and cultural events.


                This picture shows people at the first dinner of the Hillside Club in 1910​

Read retrospective article about the Hillside Club in the The East Bay Monthly.

Learn more about local history and architecture.

Visit the Berkeley  Architectural Heritage Association. 

Read about Bernard Maybeck