St. Mark’s, Berkeley, welcomes the future: the dedication and blessing of Lions Hall

Posted on September 22, 2014

On Sunday, September 14, St Mark’s, Berkeley, celebrated the completion of a redevelopment plan some 10 years in the making with the dedication and blessing of Lions Hall. The new community facility replaces two older and less earthquake resistant buildings; it contains expanded hospitality space, two classrooms, a wonderful new professional grade kitchen, a nursery, an enlarged patio with retractable awnings, and—ever practical for our music concerts—expanded restroom facilities. Designed by Erick Mikiten, of Mikiten Architects, the new building also features over 60 exquisite murals of Biblical and theological themes created by the eminent San Francisco Bay Area artist Ruth Cravath (1902-1986) which were preserved from the exterior of the prior classroom building. 

Lions Hall is part of a redevelopment partnership with Hudson McDonald through which the parish entered an 85-year land lease for a significant portion of our previously under-utilized foot print; the income will help sustain the mission and ministry of the parish. Hudson McDonald built and will operate a dormitory for 160 UC Berkeley students — which was fully occupied two months earlier than expected. A completely refurbished parking lot is shared between Hudson McDonald and the parish and no one misses the sometimes ankle-deep puddles in our old parking lot (AKA Lago San Marco).

The new facilities represent the work of countless skilled, dedicated members of the community and the support of parish clergy. Although we could fill a column with the names of everyone who deserves our thanks, special recognition must be given to Jerry Walker, chair of the Redevelopment Committee—and senior warden at various times over the 10 years—and staff member Courtney Storm, whose daily attention to every detail of project management was essential to the project’s success.

Lions Hall is built on the generosity of this community of faith. The Hodgkin Community Room is dedicated to the memory of the Rev. Canon W. R. H. Hodgkin, D.D., S.T.D., who was rector of St. Mark’s from 1919–1933 and is unique among our rectors in that he had grown up in the parish. We are particularly grateful for the generosity of his friend Gordon G. C. Johnson who helped us build our previous hospitality center. The Williams Rooms (1 and 2) are classrooms dedicated to the glory of God and in memory of the Rev. Walter Williams, D.D., rector of St. Mark’s from 1953–1962, and a keen advocate of Christian education in both the local and national church. The Barbara Oliver Room honors the leadership and creativity of Ms. Oliver who was Director of Religious Education at St. Mark’s from 1967–81. She was also a renowned actor and director; she co-founded Berkeley’s Aurora Theater in 1992. Her final gift to us was founding St. Mark’s Spoken Word Ministry, which continues to enliven and enrich our parish life.

We look forward to welcoming you to Lions Hall!

photos: all parish group photo — Malcolm McWilliams; photos with article — Bruce Alexander