David Brower, Environmentalist


David Brower, Environmentalist

CITY OF BERKELEY LANDMARK designated in 2008
Brower Early Family Residence: 2232–2234 Haste Street (1916–1947)

Brower Later Residence: 40 Stevenson Ave. (after 1947)

The wild places are where we began. When they end, so do we.” —David Brower

Notable Berkeley resident David Brower is widely regarded as the father of the 20th Century’s environmental movement. Born two years before the death of John Muir, Brower and his family moved to 2232–2234 Haste Street in 1916 when he was four years old. The front house was built by prominent builder and early elected city official A.H. Broad in 1887. The rear house was completed in 1904. Both have been landmarked by the city. Brower planted the large front redwood in 1941, two years before enlisting in the army. In 1947 Brower moved with his wife and child into a house built for them at 40 Stevenson Avenue. The family remained there until his death in 2000.

The ease of walking to campus from his family home didn’t alter Brower’s lack of attraction to formal learning—he dropped out of UC Berkeley after his sophomore year. An interest in mountaineering, coupled with a passion for protecting the environment, ultimately led to his becoming the first executive director of the Sierra Club, an organization founded by Muir. During his tenure (1952–1969) the Club’s membership and influence expanded dramatically. Brower went on to found Friends of the Earth and Earth Island Institute. He successfully led efforts to establish national parks and seashores (including Point Reyes National Seashore and Redwood National Park), gain passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964, and focus worldwide attention upon the urgency of environmental protection.

As a tribute to Brower, Berkeley partnered with nonprofit developers in 2007 to build the David Brower Center (2150 Allston Way), an advanced green building housing nonprofit organizations “committed to a just and ecologically sustainable society.”

Contributed by Robert Kehlmann, 2012

  • Brower House (1916–1946), 2232–34 Haste St., photo (2012) R. Kehlmann.

  • Brower House (1947–2000), 40 Stevenson Ave., photo (2012) R. Kehlmann.

  • Ann Brower Path sign, Stevenson St., photo (2012) R.Kehlmann.

Photo credit abbreviations:
BAHA: Berkeley Architectural Heritage Assn.
BHS: Berkeley Historical Society