Alice Carey dies - architect, avid preservationist
02 August 2013
Ph: Carey & Co.
Alice Ross Carey (M.Arch., 1977), an award-winning preservation architect and advocate who was involved in the restoration of some of the Bay Area's most important buildings, died in San Francisco on July 27 of lung cancer. She was 64.
Carey was founder and owner of Carey & Co. Architects, one of the earliest practitioners of historic preservation in the San Francisco Bay area. Her firm specialized in a variety of architectural preservation services including the restoration and rehabilitation of historic structures, design through construction, building documentation, historic evaluations, historic research, building conditions analysis, materials conservation, historic structure reports, planning, history, and sustainability in California, Hawaii, Nevada and Utah. The firm's historic rehabilitation projects include many culturally significant buildings such as San Francisco City Hall, San Francisco War Memorial Opera House, California State Capitol, San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts, the Taoist Temple of Kwan Tai, the last intact functioning Chinese Joss House on the Pacific North Coast and the oldest in California, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s last design project – the Marin Civic Center.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Toledo, Ohio, Ms. Carey headed west after high school and worked s a carpenter and had her own small construction firm before earning a master's degree in architecture from UC Berkeley. She started Carey & Co. in 1983. The firm now resides in a 1908 fire station that it restored.
"She was not someone who just wrote reports and recommendations. She had a rare hybrid of skills," said Katherine Petrin, an architectural historian who became friends with Ms. Carey in 2000, when the two were fighting to save the New Mission Theater in San Francisco. That battle was a success and the long-vacant theater is being restored as a five-screen movie house with dining.
It is not the only example of Ms. Carey using her free time to defend slices of the past, from the Tonga Room at the Fairmont Hotel to the statuesque 1916 brick Metropolitan Club at 640 Sutter St. Ms. Carey also dedicated much of her time on the boards of many historic organizations, including the College of Environmental Design Archives at U.C. Berkeley, to which she also donated select records from her practice; San Francisco Architectural Heritage; and the 640 Historic Preservation Foundation.
"She was a master at working with the client to convince them to do the right thing in terms of preservation and rehabilitation," said Wayne Donaldson, chairman of the U.S. Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. "She'd sit down with a client, walk through the details and by the end, the owners thought it was their idea."
A memorial for Ms. Carey will be held at 2 p.m. Aug. 21 at the Neptune Society Columbarium, One Loraine Court, San Francisco.