In the Fall of 1937, seven coeds and their housemothers moved into the newly opened Japanese Women’s Student Clubhouse. The 2-story white frame house at 2509 Hearst Street provided housing in Berkeley for Japanese American women students who faced racial barriers to reasonably priced quarters near the campus. The Clubhouse was ideally located just across the street from the campus with a view of the Architecture building and around the corner from the Japanese American Men’s Dormitory.
The house was purchased for $7000 after more than ten years of fundraising. Teas and shows (in Oakland and San Francisco) were put on by the students, alumnae and Japanese Mothers Group. The first seven residents were students Mabel Ando, Kiyo Kitano, Miye Kojaku, May Morioka, Sadae Nomura, Takako Tsuchiya and Michi Yamazaki and housemothers Ayame Ichiyasu and Mae Iwai. The Directors of the non-profit Japanese Women’s Student Club were Tomi Domoto, Shizuko Hikoyeda, Anne Saito (Howden), Barbara Takahashi, Mary C. Takahashi, Dr. Yoshiye Togasaki and Grace Uyeyama.
At full capacity, twelve to fourteen women slept in the five bedrooms and the large sun porch. Professor Chiura Obata’s paintings decorated the walls of the living room.
In 1939, Mrs. Kiku Taniguchi became the housemother. During the WWII internment of Japanese Americans, the house was rented to the Merrill family for $80 a month. In 1946, Mr. and Mrs. Harry (Lillian) Matsumoto (who had been in charge of the orphanage in Manzanar) rented the property for a year and eleven students resided there. On April 4, 1947, the alumnae voted to reopen the house as a dormitory and Mrs. Taniguchi returned as housemother.
In 1958, eight upper division and graduate students occupied the clubhouse. In 1964, the City of Berkeley condemned the building. By then, Japanese American students were able to live in racially integrated coops and dormitories. A realty firm offered $25,000 for the property, but the board delayed their reply while they made plans for the proceeds. After two years of study and negotiations, the board and the UC Regents created a scholarship fund. Only then, was the clubhouse sold for $72,000 and on January 10, 1967, the proceeds from the sale were given to the UC Regents as an endowment for the Japanese Women Alumnae Scholarship fund. Founding members of the 1966 Scholarship Committee were Dr. Yoshiye Togasaki, Chair, Shizu Hikoyeda, Lillian Matsumoto, Fumie Nakamura, Michi Onuma, Barbara Takahashi, and Grace Uyeyama.
2509 Hearst Street
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