Category Archives: beautiful buildings

What is Art Deco?

Art Deco was an international design movement popular in the 1920’s and 30’s, focused on themes of luxury, technology, modernization, and craftsmanship. The movement was born in Paris, an outgrowth of the previous Art Nouveau movement that was declining in popularity at the turn of the 20th century.

Art Nouveau (French for “new art”) focused on the importance of artisan craftsmanship, and typically featured organic motifs of flowers & plants, and/or highly stylized curved forms. Art Deco retains many of the same inherent aesthetic qualities as Art Nouveau, but was considered a modernization of the style, and until a comprehensive book was written about it, following an exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts in 1971 by Bevis Hillier, Art Deco had often been referred to as “Style Moderne.”

Hillier’s book was titled Art Deco of the 20s and 30s, which first popularized the term. He took his title from an exposition held in France in 1925, the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (truncating the words “Arts Décoratifs”). The Exposition was organized by a collective of French artists known as La Société des Artistes Décorateurs (the society of the decorator artists), and its purpose was to demonstrate French artists’ and designers’ dominance as leaders in the world of luxury design. The French are not known for their modesty!  The exposition was originally slated for 1915, but was postposted due to WWI, which had the unlikely effect of expanding the historical influences to the designs presented.

With the increasing ability to travel abroad, and international interest in archeology fueled by discoveries such as the lost city of Pompeii and King Tutankhamun’s intact tomb, artist and designers began incorporating exotic cultures and primitive arts into their design themes. These influences are pervasive throughout the Art Deco movement – Egyptian motifs are prevalent, as well as Grec0-Roman, Babylonian, Azteca, etc. and can be seen in sunburst and zig-zag patterns, staggered tiered/pyramidal structures, pictorial representations and more.

This period of Deco, sometimes referred to as Zigzag Moderne, flourished during the hey day of the post-war roaring 20’s. The economy was booming, people were optimistic, and the lavish yet modern stylings of Deco ushered in this age. Classic examples can be seen in the Empire State Building (pictured below) and Chrysler Building, both built in the late 1920’s in New York.

art deco architecture, empire state building, sunburst pattern, staggered pyramid

As I mentioned last week, I took the tour this past weekend of our incredible Paramount Theatre, “one of the finest examples of Art Deco in the United States,” which displays many of the Zigzag influences as well as references to Art Nouveau, through repetitious use of organic themes of grass, flower, leaf, & vine. I’ll be posting about it later this week, but it’s a lot of material to compose (the Paramount’s website alone has more than 4 pages of history and artists information, so I may need to break it up a bit). We’ll see… Please stay tuned.

As Deco continued to develop throughout the 1930’s more industrial influences can be seen, such as sleek, aerodynamic stylings often referred to as Streamline or Streamline Moderne. Rounded corners, chrome surfaces, and the conveyance of speed influenced everything from buildings to cars to kitchen appliances. The renovated marquee of the Fox Oakland Theater (shown in my last post) is a good example of Streamline design, as is the 1934 Chrysler Airflow pictured below (photo courtesy of Randy Stern on Flickr).

art deco moderne, chrysler airflow 1934

Though a dominant design form through the early 1930’s, Art Deco waned in popularity mid-decade as the Great Depression continued to take its toll. The glitzy elegance and luxurious treatments of Deco-inspired buildings and products were seen as stark reminders of a promised prosperity, never realized. “Moreover, as the threat of a second world war loomed closer and closer, Art Deco was looked upon ever more vehemently. And with the outbreak of WWII in 1939, Art Deco was dead.” (Art Deco Style)

Not truly dead however… Because we have our wonderful historical homages to this period, many of which have been spared the wrecking ball due to their incredible beauty and craftsmanship. I’ll be looking at many of our Oakland Art Deco masterpieces in my coming posts…

What’s Moorish, Indian, Medieval, and Baghdadian?

Stumped?

(I bet you didn’t even know Baghdadian was a word… I didn’t!)

These are just a handful of the architectural influences of our majestic and recently refurbished Fox Theater. I’m kicking off my Art Deco series with the Fox despite its lack of Deco authenticity (we’ll get to more of what that means next week), because frankly, it’s kind of a big deal. And here’s why…

On Sept. 21, 1926 the Oakland Tribune reported “Oakland is to have two new motion picture theaters in the downtown district increasing the assessed valuation of the city by four million dollars or more…” The first of these was The Fox.

fox theater historical photo, fox theater circa 1928

Historical Photo circa 1928 (courtesy Dreyfus Report, 2001)

Originally called the Oakland Theater (or West Coast Oakland Theater) upon opening in 1928, the name was later changed to the Fox Oakland Theater, and at the time it was said to be the largest theater complex on the West Coast, with a capacity of between 3200 and 3800. This was the heyday of large movie “palaces,” dripping with atmosphere and ambiance designed to transport audiences to romantic and exciting distant worlds. “Persian gardens, Italian palazzos and Egyptian courts rose in cities throughout the country offering patrons an exotic afternoon or evening of entertainment.” (Dreyfus Report, 2001)

The architects of the Fox followed suit, drawing influences from a number of exotic cultures, most prominently Indian and Middle Eastern. In fact, the overall structure of the building, with its central high dome, resembles a typical Brahmanian temple of Northern India, and the interior auditorium space is flanked by two enormous sculptures of Hindu Gods. The entire theater was constructed to convey a lavish lifestyle, opulent with exotic woods, richly textured fabrics, jeweled light fixtures, intricate tile and plaster work, and highly decorative metal finishes.

Moorish architecture is “a term used to describe the articulated Islamic architecture which developed in North Africa and south-western Europe.” (Wikipedia) This influence is seen in the parapet (elevated wall) connecting the two primary pylons comprising the main facade of the building, as well as the continuing roof-line of the main commercial wings of the building, with its repeating pattern of terra cotta ornamentation, and distinctive key-hole windows (see below).

moorish architecture, fox theater oakland

moorish architecture, fox theater oakland

The medieval influence can be seen in the gargoyles perched atop the primary pylons (below, right).

gothic architecture, moorish architecture, fox theater oakland

And I’m not quite sure how the Baghdadian comes into play, other than the initial plans to call the theater “The Baghdad,” before settling upon the eponymous “Oakland Theater” instead.

So where’s the Art Deco you might ask?

Well… to be honest, there’s not a whole lot. But there is a bit, much of which was added during modernizing renovations in 1945. “The front façade and interior walls [were] covered with stainless steel sheathing in an art deco style zigzag pattern. The columns [were] sheathed in a streamlined stainless steel shape and the ticket booth replaced with a new one in the art deco style. The original tile floor [was] replaced with terrazzo, and the ceilings replaced by a stepped plaster ceiling in a cloud pattern, with neon accents… While these alterations represent fine examples of the art deco style, they resulted in the loss of a substantial amount of very significant historic material, and are inconsistent with the architectural character of the theater.” (Dreyfus Report, 2001)

Art Deco Terrazzo, fox theater oakland, terrazzo inlay

The marquee was also updated to a more modern art deco style, but was done 10 years prior and is, hence, considered to be a “contributing historic” element. Here’s a shot of the original marquee followed by its replacement in 1935 (now refurbished).

fox theater oakland, historical photo fox theater

Original Marqee circa 1929 (courtesy Dreyfus report, 2001)

art deco theater marquee, fox oakland marquee

art deco, fox theater oakland, art deco theater marquee

The Fox was a premiere entertainment destination for decades, but suffered a decline in attendance in the 1960’s, as did many of the grand movie palaces throughout the country, due largely to the increasing popularity of television and the trend toward smaller multiplex theaters. The Fox tried several options including showing soft-core porn movies such as “Paradisio,” but eventually closed its doors in 1965, opening only sporadically for films and events during the next seven years.

“The Fox survived an arson fire in 1973, but its increasingly shabby condition led it to be derided as ‘the largest outdoor urinal in the world.‘” Still, the theater avoided being turned into a parking lot in 1975, unlike its sister Fox Theater in San Francisco, leveled in 1963 to make way for eventual replacement by high-rise offices and apartments. And thanks to the efforts of Oakland Mayor Lionel J. Wilson, the Fox Oakland achieved city landmark status in 1978.

And then it sat. And sat. And sat. It changed hands a few times and saw a few sporadic performances, but for the most part it simply sat… and continued to deteriorate. The City of Oakland purchased it in 1996 for $3 million dollars. In 1998 an Oakland Tribune editorial declared “the only life in the theater almost two years [after the City’s acquisition] is a crop of mushrooms sprouting from the theater’s soggy carpet.”

Then things started to happen. In 1999, the city spent $1 million to repair the roofs. At the same time, a sub-committee of the Oakland Heritage Alliance was formed, Friends of the Oakland Fox. Their goal: the historic preservation of the Fox Oakland Theater, and its use as a live entertainment venue. The Friends convinced the city to spend more money to restore the marquee and vertical blade sign to generate public interest in the renovation plans. And finally, architectural consultants Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates were contracted to prepare a master plan for the Fox, generating two proposals that were both ultimately deemed undoable.

This is when Phil Tagami stepped in. He is the man who spoke before thousands at last year’s Uptown Unveiled block party to celebrate the re-opening of the Fox and the revitalization of Uptown. He is the hero of this story, the man who ultimately achieved what many said couldn’t be done. And can you guess what he did? Of course you can. The man raised money. And a lot of it. With a background in construction and prior experience restoring old buildings (including Kahn’s department store across from City Hall), he fashioned together a complex funding plan from various sources: private donations, city redevelopment money, grants, federal historic tax credits, large equity investments, and more.

An Oakland native, Tagami essentially donated thousands of hours of his personal time… his gift to the city, where he still lives with his wife and two children. Thank you Phil Tagami! We owe you a huge debt of gratitude.

And thanks as well to the City of Oakland, Friends of the Oakland Fox, and all those involved in this historic project.

The Fox Oakland Theater reopened on February 5th, 2009. Shows are currently booked by Another Planet Entertainment, the same folks who bring wonderful eclectic shows to the Independent in San Francisco. If you haven’t yet seen a show at the Fox, it’s high-time you high-tailed it to Uptown Oakland to check out this incredible gem!

fox theater oakland, fox theater box office, fox theater marqee

Touring the Paramount…

ART DECO DAYS – intro

In my early days in the Bay Area, I used to usher a lot of shows. I ushered shows in San Francisco at the Warfield, the Fillmore, and Bimbos; theater performances at the Berkeley Rep; and concerts at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. Ushering allowed me to see a lot of shows for free, which is great when you’re young, broke, and don’t mind standing on your feet all night.

The Paramount ushering gig was the strictest of all… not only did you have to wear nearly black-tie attire, but you were required to attend one of their bi-monthly tours to learn the history of the building prior to your first gig, so if perchance a paying ticket-holder asked you a question about the artistry, architecture or history of the venue, you’d be savvy enough to answer accurately.

I took my first tour of the Paramount nearly a decade ago, and if I remember correctly, we spent a great deal of time talking about the renovation of the Paramount, an Art Deco masterpiece built in 1931, refurbished and reopened in 1973. What I also remember about the tour, was a brief discussion of the Paramount’s neighbor, the Fox, a once grand movie palace that, at the time, had been sitting vacant and decrepit for over 30 years. Our tour guide told us that sadly, the Fox might never achieve its restoration as the Paramount had due to economic factors, being simply too expensive to repair in the 21st century.

Well, we all know now that my tour guide was, fortunately, mistaken. The Fox has been restored, but it was a long struggle indeed. We’ll talk more about the Fox tomorrow, and more about the Paramount and Art Deco in general next week. But let this be the official kick-off of my Art Deco Days series.

I’m touring the Paramount again this Saturday at 10am. It costs 5 bucks and is well worth it. I encourage folks to join me if interested…

paramount theatre oakland, paramount theater oakland, art deco theaters

Dave Chappelle played Oaktown!

Ok…  I’m backtracking a bit here, so no spoiler alert necessary… I’m sure everyone and their brother knows by now that Dave Chappelle played a great, relatively new (opened in October 2009), little club in Oaktown called The New Parish.  What folks may not know, is that I was lucky enough to see one of these shows.  Woo hoo!!

First, The New Parish at 18th and San Pablo.  It was called “Town Hall” prior to its new debut last fall, and apparently Dave made a super-secret appearance there in April of 2009 (his first appearance in Oakland since 1996)… not a bad notch to have on your belt.  Prior to its short-lived incarnation as Town Hall, the venue was known as Sweet Jimmie’s after its proprietor Jimmie Ward, who opened the club in 1990 (he had a previous location, opened in 1982, but it was damaged during the Loma Prieta earthquake).

“Sweet Jimmie” Ward died just a couple of weeks ago at the age of 74… I’m going to quote extensively from a blogpost I found about his passing (Sweet Jimmie Ward Dies – Aimee Allison | Oakland Seen) because his story fits neatly into the framework I discussed last week, of that first generation of Southern Blacks who came to Oakland in search of better opportunities, to leave their lasting marks on our city:

A former longshoreman, he was one of hundreds of thousands who came from the South to work at the shipyards or on the Army base during World War II and stayed to raise families and start businesses and shape neighborhoods. Ward made Sweet Jimmie’s into the place to go – dressed to the nines – where old soul from Mississippi and Louisiana and Georgia was alive.

Those in Sweet Jimmie’s generation brought small town manners and blues and political organizing and art. They created a legacy and culture in Oakland that defines us today. Now, Oakland’s black population has plummeted under the weight of unemployment and police sweeps and shady mortgages. But you can still see the storefront of the old Sweet Jimmie’s at 577 18th Street in downtown Oakland. Many people don’t know that for many years it was an important meeting place for African-American political and community organizations. It was a center of influence. And while many celebrate the remaking of culture and nightlife in the city, I am taking a moment to mourn what we lost. See, Sweet Jimmie’s wasn’t just another nightclub, Jimmie Ward just another nightclub owner. He represented an era here in Oakland. And that era is over.

While that era may be over, it is no secret that Sweet Jimmie’s nightclub suffered a decline in its later years.  There are some entertaining stories on YelpEven Dave Chappelle did a riff on this during his show, spoofing on the scene from Sixth Sense… “I see dead pimps… and they want me to do things for them!” The crowd roared in hilarity, because before the whole remaking of the Uptown district of Oakland, this little stretch of San Pablo was known to be hella-ghetto, to put it bluntly.

One era ends… another begins… and I am here to loudly celebrate the new era of The New Parish, Uptown, and Oakland at large.

But let’s get back to the show…

For those who don’t know (I didn’t know) Dave is known for his ridiculously long sets… My friend who went to the late show said she left at 4:15 am and Dave was still going strong! We went to the early show… Thank God!

While we lined up outside, we were told that Dave was across the street at the Piedmont Piano Company.  Doing what you might ask?  Well… I assume playing piano.  And if you’re gonna play piano, this is a pretty sweet spot indeed.

piano company, piano company on san pablo, uptown piano company

Housed in the historic California Furniture building, just one of dozens of Art Deco gems in downtown Oakland (stay tuned… I’m hoping to do a whole Art Deco series next month), the new location just opened a few weeks ago. They’re a family owned and operated business, providing not just new and used pianos for sale, but rentals, tuning services, music lessons (including guitar, drums, and more), and recitals. That’s right… they’re utilizing this gorgeous space for live performances too. Next performance is March 13th at 8:00pm Rebel Tumbao…  “merging Roots Reggae and Roots Afro-Latin vibrations with original compositions and wicked arrangements of Bob Marley’s music, all with a critical progressive social message for our times.”  Sounds pretty cool, eh?

But I digress…
waiting in line, dave chappelle, new parish

As we waited in line, we chatted with all the folks who were equally excited to see Dave in such a small venue. I don’t know for sure but my guess would be that the Parish holds about 300 people. The line ran right past the windows of the new restaurant next door, Hibiscus, where Dave would later eat dinner after he tired of his piano playing. I heard from friends the drinks are good. We’ll have to check them out another day…

The Parish staff were ultra-professional and seriously buttoned-up. Notices were posted along the full length of the line about restrictions on photography, video, and most interestingly, heckling… “NO HECKLING WILL BE TOLERATED.” Who the hell would heckle Dave?! Anyway, despite all the notices, the doorman gave us the full verbal run-down as well… You can’t do this, you can’t do that, you will get thrown out. I asked, “Jeeezzz… Are we allowed to laugh?!” Absolutely. Enjoy the show.

new parish, oakland new parish, oakland music clubs

Above is the one and only picture I took inside, taken well before Dave took the stage… there was no way I was getting thrown out of that gig. It’s a pretty bad shot, but it gives you a feel for the space. I’ve been to one other show at the Parish and there was no seating as there was for this show (to enforce the two drink minimum). Typically there’s a nice dance area directly in front of the stage with wrap around areas on three sides and an upstairs with another bar and prime viewing from on-high.

What else can I tell you? Dave was hilarious. Of course. There was a ton of interplay between him and the crowd and I was surprised how conversational the show was… definitely not a scripted routine. The man is smart. And quick. Of course race played a big theme throughout the show, but not just black vs. white and not your stereotypical race-based humor. The crowd was incredibly diverse, as is our city, and Dave poked fun at all of us equally. The female scientist from Tunisia. The hipster Saudi with his trucker cap askew. And the hippy kids from Nevada who entered the club with backpacks in tow. I could try to replay the jokes, but I know they’d fall flat. I’ll just say we all laughed together, at each other, at ourselves, and for me, it was a truly transcendent experience. Props to The New Parish… Thank you!

African American Museum & Library

To commemorate the beginning of Black History Month, I made a visit to the African American Museum & Library on 14th Street, just a couple blocks behind City Center. I have to be honest, and I am ashamed to admit this, but this was my first ever visit to this museum which opened 8 years ago. I guess I’ll just say it was well worth the wait, because it really is a gem of an institution.

First of all, the building itself is absolutely gorgeous! Both an Oakland City Landmark, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it’s an architectural delight with lovely arched windows and doorways, detailed exterior stone work and incredible craftsmanship inside.

beautiful oakland building, oakland city landmark

The building was spear-headed by Charles S. Greene, Oakland’s City Librarian from 1889 to 1926, who realized the city was outgrowing its first public library (a wooden structure erected in 1878 where City Hall now stands). He initiated a campaign to build a new one and, along with others including a women’s organization called The Ebell Society, found funding assistance from Andrew Carnegie’s Foundation, which offered $50,000 for the construction of the building. It was designed by architects Bliss and Faville in the American Beaux Arts style, and served as Oakland’s main library from 1902 until 1951.

“The elegant exterior of tan brick and terra cotta is incised with names of authors and disciplines and “Oakland Public Library.” “Free to All” is inscribed above the main entrance. The interior exhibits elaborate oak paneling, classical columns, and ornamented plaster ceilings. The second floor with its coffered, barrel-vaulted ceiling supported by massive columns, is one of Oakland’s most imposing interior spaces.” [Historical Plaque co-sponsored by Oakland Heritage Alliance]

barrel-vaulted ceiling

Once the new main library (at 14th and Oak streets) was opened in 1951, this building served as a branch library, at which point it was renamed the Charles S. Greene Library. It later became city offices, and was eventually abandoned after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. “Following extensive restoration, it reopened in 2002 as the new home of the African American Museum and Library at Oakland.”

The mission of the Museum & Library is to discover, preserve, interpret and share the historical and cultural experiences of African Americans in California and the West for present and future generations.

The library is housed downstairs and consists of unique archives and reference materials on the history of African Americans in Northern California. The reference library houses approximately 12,000 volumes whose subjects include “religion, the military, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party, Africa in relationship to the African-American experience, genealogy, and California history.” And the archives contain diaries of prominent African Americans, newspapers on microfilm, videos and oral histories, and much more.

The museum is upstairs and “regularly hosts traveling and original exhibitions that highlight the art, history and culture of African Americans.” Here are two of the murals that greet you as you take the stairs to the second floor…

oakland murals, african american history, african american mural art

The current temporary exhibit is titled Access to Life: Faces from a Quiet Revolution and will be up through February 27th. It’s a powerful photographic exhibit by 8 Magnum photographers who focus their lenses on AIDS patients both before and for months following their antiretroviral treatments. “The project documents individuals in Haiti, Mali, Peru, Russia, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, and Vietnam; countries chosen because of the diverse contexts and circumstances driving the epidemic in each one.” To learn more, visit accesstolife.theglobalfund.org. Here are a couple shots…

Access to Life, African American Museum

Access to Life, African American Museum, AIDS photo essays

There is also a permanent multi-media installation titled Visions Toward Tomorrow: The African American Community in Oakland, 1890-1990.Visions documents the historical accomplishments of generations of African Americans in Oakland from the era of pioneering and settlement to those eras of community formation, development of the press, establishment of local churches, and creation of a lasting legacy of music and the arts.”

If you’ve never visited this wonderful institution, might I suggest that there is no time like the present. In honor of Black History Month, I plan to focus on more African American cultural events and institutions as February continues…

The Alameda County Courthouse

So today I had to run a quick errand to the Courthouse… yea right!

All I can say is the entire experience was an incredible exercise in patience (I am not a patient person).

I like to consider myself a bit of a task-master (capable, efficient, etc.) I did my research. I knew where I needed to go. The document I downloaded from the internet directed me to my local courthouse – Wiley W. Manuel in West Oakland. I went there, waited in line, partially undressed to go through the metal detector and security screening, made my way to the second floor where I was supposed to find the Court Self-Help Center. Instead, I found a locked door with a PDF taped to the window stating that the self-help center had been moved. Mind you… this was the same PDF I had located on the internet and printed out, however the information here was different. Apparently no one bothered to update the web. Argh.

I then made my way to the correct location… the iconic Rene C. Davidson Courthouse, perched on the Southwest corner of Lake Merritt. Waited again in line, went through the metal detector and screening, made my way to the second floor… Room 240 where I expected to find the Court Self-Help Center. Instead I found a series of flyers stating that the Self-Help Center had been moved to the first floor, Room 109.

I could go on and on… two more lines, then directed to the basement, only to be told to go across the street to the Family Law Library, then back to the Courthouse, back through the security screening, back in line… You get my drift.

What should have been a simple 15 minute procedure took me 2 1/2 hours. Jeeezzzz…

The positive side is I got a nice look at this beautiful building, during a thin slice of blue sky and sunshine today. I refer to it as iconic because it’s frequently featured as an Oakland landmark in illustrated and photographic materials… like this vintage style postcard on Our Oakland’s Greetings From Oakland post. Which reminds me… did you all notice my new blogroll? Right-hand side… scroll down. Check it out, there’s some great stuff~!

Rene C. Davidson Courthouse, alameda county court

This is actually Alameda County’s Fifth Courthouse. The fourth was a real stunner, built in the Parisian Second Empire Style with a domed central tower and four miniature corner towers… see historical photo below. It was opened in 1875, located between 4th and 5th Streets at Broadway, and for over 50 years served “as a powerful symbol of the importance and wealth of what was then California’s fourth most populous county.” Sadly, it fell out of favor before the modern historic preservation movement and was ultimately replaced and eventually demolished. (Courthouse historical placard)

alameda county courthouse

Our current courthouse, the Rene C. Davidson, was constructed in the mid-1930’s through the passage of a $1.7 million bond measure, supplemented by Public Works Administration (PWA) funds. The building, consisting reinforced concrete over a steel frame, features exterior surfaces of California granite and terra cotta trim. Designed by prominent local architects William Corlett, Henry Minton, James Plachek, William Schirmer, and Carl Werner, the main facade of the building faces Lake Merritt (I actually shot the back from 12th Street) and opens to spacious lobby featuring fifteen foot high marble mosaic murals depicting county history. Wish I had pictures of those to share but I somehow missed seeing them while being funneled from line to line. Guess I’ll have to go back…

The Trappist

So I spent like two hours of my supposed-to-be-a-day-of-rest Sunday working on setting up the stupid Facebook Fan Badge that you see off to the right hand side of this column. You would think it would be so simple… in this age of technology and social networking and applications capable of hand-holding with each other. And it should be so simple. But NOooooo!

Apparently the WordPress text widget only accepts straight HTML and not the Javascript programming incorporated into the Facebook Fan Badge. And if that’s all Greek to you, then you can understand my frustration as well. I needed a 12 year old to program this for me! But instead, I struggled with building the little HTML widget myself… wasting precious time, and literally driving myself to drink.

So please, if you’re a Facebook-er, make it worth my while and click on that stupid button and be my fan on Facebook. sigh.

My friends and I met at The Trappist in downtown Oakland (8th Street @ Broadway). It’s a gorgeous bar housed in an 1870’s Victorian building, specializing in Trappist, Belgian, and other European fancy brews. Steeped in Euro-pub ambiance, the bar itself is as beautifully crafted as the beers they offer, each served at the correct temperature and in the properly shaped glass to allow one to fully experience the subtle & complex flavors.

the trappist, belgian beer bar, downtown oakland specialty bar

Trappist refers to the reformist order of Cistercian monks established in the 17th century at the La Trappe monastery in Northern France. The monks lived austere lives characterized by vows of stability, fidelity to monastic life, and obedience. The monasteries were required to be self-supporting, living off their own land, labor, & resources, and it was out of this commandment that monk-maintained breweries originated. (Wikipedia)

Today there are only 7 true Trappist breweries, owned and run by active Benedictine Abbeys: 6 in Belgium and 1 in The Netherlands. The Trappist carries beers by all seven: Achel, Chimay, Koningshoeven, Orval, Rochefort, Westmalle, and Westvleteren, in addition to many specialty beers not easily found elsewhere. They currently maintain 25 beers on tap and have a rotating bottle stock of between 130 – 140 different brands. Wow!

the trappist brewery, trappist brewpub

Do you know those Stella Artois commercials you see before the previews start at the movies? The bartender takes such exquisite care with preparing the glass just so, pouring the beer ever so particularly, all in an effort to deliver the perfect glass of beer. That’s how they do it here. Not kidding. If you take your beer seriously, please check them out. You won’t be sorry.

the trappist, belgian beer pub,