Saturday, November 3, 2007

Anna Head (1857-1932) - Founder of School


[Head gravesite photo by Michael Colbruno]

Plot 6

Anna Head was born in Boston in 1857, the daughter of Judge Edward and Eliza Head.

Judge Head moved to Oakland in 1861 where he established a law practice and his wife established a French and English school. Anna graduated from Oakland High School in 1874 and the University of California at Berkeley in 1879. After graduation, she traveled and studied extensively in Europe, with much of that time spent in Greece where she developed a lifelong passion for the classics. Many of her ideas about education were formed during these years.

When Eliza Head retired in 1887 she helped her daughter, Anna, start her own school in Berkeley, where no doubt the presence of the University of California was the reason for selecting Berkeley rather than Oakland.

The school, initially located at Dana and Channing streets, moved to its present location between Channing and Haste streets at Bowditch Street, in 1892. Anna Head named this building Channing Hall and had it designed by her cousin, the noted architect Soule Edgar Fisher. Channing Hall is the oldest shingled building standing in Berkeley. Subsequently additions built between 1895 and 1927 and mostly designed by Walter Ratcliff, Jr. resulted in a complex of shingled buildings set around a courtyards and gardens.

The school operated as a day and boarding school for grades one to twelve. Anna Head remained owner and director until 1909 and the school has changed hands only four times since then. Until 1957, the school refused admittance to Jewish and African-American students. In 1964, when the university acquired the school, it was relocated to Oakland and reorganized, merging with a boy’s school, and renamed Head-Royce. A board of directors now operates it.

Anna died on Christmas Day in 1932.

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