House Museum Now Open Twice Monthly
The Meyers House is the only vintage home in Alameda open to the public.
For the past 16 years, the home has been open only one day each month, staffed by volunteers under the direction of Alameda Museum Curator George Gunn.
The gracefully proportioned Colonial Revival house was completed in 1897. The Meyers family bequeathed the property to the Alameda Museum and the city in 1994.
At first the museum and the city’s Recreation and Park Department co-managed the house. Last year sole ownership of the property passed to the museum. The board of directors started a much-needed capital campaign to cover maintenance, such as painting, and to upgrade the home for events like weddings.
Spurred by the need for morepublic education and major fundraising, Gunn decided to open the house twice each month: from 1 to 4 p.m. on the second and fourth Saturdays, beginning this Saturday, Jan. 11.
The $5 admission fee includes a docent tour, a major exhibit full of architectural details and a glimpse into the studio where architect Henry Meyers and his daughter Mildred drafted their building plans.
“The house has a fascinating background,” said Jim Smallman, who recently volunteered to guide visitors through the house. “It is beautifully detailed and furnished with love. It’s truly a treasure.”
“The Meyers House provides me the opportunity to discover the way a space was created,” said volunteer Steve Aced. “These discoveries inspire me to find new ways to design spaces myself.”
Gene and Dora Calhoun sad that they decided to volunteer at the Meyers House because they wanted to teach the nuances of life in the 19th and early 20th century. “We want to educate school children about times past,” said Dora. “We understand the importance to youth and adults alike of the direct knowledge of history.” The Calhouns have opened their own home for the Alameda Legacy Home Tour on two occasions.
“I love being here. I can imagine what it was like in the early 1900s,” said longtime docent Gail Howell. “As I tell our visitors, since I can’t live here, I love being here each month to enjoy it myself and to share it with others.”
“The Meyers House and its surroundings are important elements of Alameda history and deserve to be treated and maintained as such,” said Gail’s husband, Charlie Howell. “I enjoy the reactions of our many diverse guests as they marvel at the delights that abound here.”
Ross Dileo is an experienced guide who also pitches in with hauling, scouring, polishing, painting and arranging displays — whatever needs doing. “I have volunteered here for 20 years, the Meyers House seems like my second home,” he said.
Another volunteer, Gerry Warner is a fourth-generation Alamedan. She has extensive knowledge of local history because she has lived it. “In a way, the story of the Meyers family and their home is also my story, and I am delighted to share both with visitors,” she said.
“The house offers a unique opportunity to glimpse the home and possessions of a family important in Alameda’s history,” said Gunn. “Our visitors see how the Meyers lived. They become real people instead of historic but distant figures in a dusty archive.”
According to author and historian Woody Minor Henry Haight Meyers was one of the most prominent Bay Area architects of his generation. His career spanned five decades. His office produced plans for hundreds of projects that include the Caldecott Tunnel, veterans’ buildings, churches and even a dormitory in Guam.
His projects have been honored for contributions to national and state history and are designated landmarks in Berkeley, Fremont, Oakland and San Francisco.
Of the 30 Alameda structures that have been designated as local monuments, four of those are works by Meyers: the Posey Tube, the Veterans Memorial Building, the First Presbyterian Church and his home on Alameda Avenue that you are invited to visit this Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m.
For more information, visit www.alamedamuseum.org.