90 Years of International House

I-House History Timeline Slideshow

Construction of International House

Origins

"International House is a laboratory for a new kind of experiment – the day-to-day practice of international fellowship among men and women." — John D. Rockefeller Jr., I-House Benefactor

I-House Berkeley circa 1930

I-House Berkeley circa 1930

August 18, 1930 - Despite protests, International House opens its doors as the first coeducational, interracial living center west of the Hudson River.

First Director of I-House

First Director of I-House - Allen Blaisdell

Allen Blaisdell is the first Executive Director of I-House, serving from 1930 to 1961.

1930s - Integration Ahead of the Times

1930s - Integration Ahead of the Times

I-House is one of the very few places in the Bay Area where people of diverse ethnic backgrounds can gather comfortably in an integrated setting.

1932-55: Unique Programming

1932-55: Unique Programming

Eugenie Carneiro establishes the first International Festival and coordinates cultural programs for the next 23 years.

1941: I-House Pushes Past Racial Tensions

1941: I-House Pushes Past Racial Tensions

A newspaper photo of Executive Director Blaisdell with residents from Syria, India, Japan, Iraq and Afghanistan. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese students are deported and Blaisdell assists Japanese American students.

1942: Wartime Morale

1942: Wartime Morale

While the world was at war, students at I-House sought comfort in their community.

1943-46: Callaghan Hall

1943-46: Callaghan Hall

International House is “drafted” by the U.S. Navy, renamed “Callaghan Hall” and occupied by 800-900 Navy cadets

1943-46: The Roommate Experience

1943-46: The Roommate Experience

While the Navy stays at I-House, residents live in fraternity houses & many share rooms for the first time.

I-House Helps the Berkeley Community

I-House Helps the Berkeley Community

Members of the American Friends Service Committee and American Civil Liberties Union ask residents to help test a Berkeley ordinance prohibiting restaurants and bars from refusing service to people of color.

1947-52: That Brotherhood May Prevail

1947-52: That Brotherhood May Prevail

The I-House motto rang true with every cultural program, Council meeting, and conversation among residents.

1950s: Coffee Chat Culture

1950s: Coffee Chat Culture

The Coffee Shop (now known as the I-House Cafe) is a popular place to meet people from around the world.

1952-55: International Programming

1952-55: International Programming

Activities at I-House included a chorus, festivals, dances, and even traditional folk dancing classes.

1958: The Great Flood

1958: The Great Flood

During the big flood of 1958, water pours through the Dining Room, patio, Great Hall and down the front steps of I-House.

1961: New Leadership

1961: New Leadership

W. Sheridan Warrick is appointed Executive Director following the retirement of Allen Blaisdell.

1969: The Library

1969: The Library

Students integrate the men's and women's lounges to form the I-House Library.

1963-82: Lodestar Retreats

1963-82: Lodestar Retreats

Week-long Lodestar retreats led by Program Director Donna Dickinson feature intense discussions and build lasting friendships.

1970s: Free Speech

1970s: Free Speech

Following controversial programming, the Board reaffirms the House's free speech policy & emphasizes mutual respect & tolerance.

1980: Renovations

1980: Renovations

Alumni and friends support the 50th Anniversary Capital Campaign resulting in renovations to the Auditorium, Great Hall, and administrative offices.

1988: New Executive Director

1988: New Executive Director

Joe Lurie is appointed the third Executive Director of I-House.

1989: Students Experience History Together

1989: Students Experience History Together

Students gather to watch the news when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down and realize that living in I-House has given them a unique perspective on international events.

1990s: Improvements from the Board

1990s: Improvements from the Board

The Board commits to increasing scholarship support which grows from $68,600 in 1990 to $221,000 in 1996.

1991: Edith Coliver Festival of Cultures

1991: Edith Coliver Festival of Cultures

The tradition of cultural festivals returns with the Edith Coliver Festival of Cultures, a full day of performances, arts and crafts, cultural booths, and food from around the world.

1997: Ramp Construction

1997: Ramp Construction

A new ramp at the entrance of I-House is constructed to facilitate access for people with disabilities.

2002: Remembering Lives Lost

2002: Remembering Lives Lost

Rotary World Peace Scholars release doves at a Celebration of Peace in remembrance of September 11, 2001.

2003: A Partnership with Campus

2003: A Partnership with Campus

The first nine Gateway Scholarship recipients begin their Ph. D. studies at Cal while living at I-House through an unprecedented partnership between the campus and the House.

2004-07: Successful Fundraising

2004-07: Successful Fundraising

Joe Lurie leads the successful $10.6 million 75th Anniversary Campaign to fund scholarships, renovations, and programs.

2007: New Leadership

2007: New Leadership

Martin Brennan is appointed the new Executive Director of I-House.

2008: World of Difference Wall

2008: World of Difference Wall

I-House establishes a World of Difference Donor Wall honoring contributors who support the I-House mission with lifetime giving of $5,000 or more.

2009: Honoring Old Traditions

2009: Honoring Old Traditions

The tradition of Sunday Supper, established in 1910 by I-House founder Harry Edmonds, continues today.

2010: Honoring 80 Years

2010: Honoring 80 Years

International House celebrates its 80th Anniversary with several events and a collection of 80 Perspectives on 80 Years.

2012: New Leadership

2012: New Leadership

In July 2012, Dr. Hans C. Giesecke began his service as the fifth Executive Director of International House.

2013: The Robertson Center for Intercultural Leadership

2013: The Robertson Center for Intercultural Leadership

CIL was launched on October 1, 2013 as a center of excellence for training and research to advance leadership, understanding, and collaboration across cultures.

2014-15: the Dining Commons Transformation Project

2014-15: the Dining Commons Transformation Project

The extensive dining commons renovations increased energy efficiency, upgraded outdated equipment, and most importantly, provided more engagement between residents and kitchen staff.

2017: Increased Accessibility

2017: Increased Accessibility

Transforming one of the last public spaces at I-House that was not accessible to those with mobility challenges, the Clarence E. Heller Patio Access Ramp was completed in August 2017.

2018: A Spin on Old Traditions

2018: A Spin on Old Traditions

A modern twist on the Spring Festival of Cultures, Global Homecoming features interactive intercultural presentations by CIL, a fashion show, tours of I-House and other opportunities.

2019: From All Corners

2019: From All Corners

On October 3, 2019, the Program Office launched the first I-House storytelling podcast, From All Corners.

2020: Creative COVID Programming

2020: Creative COVID Programming

In keeping with tradition, the I-House Program Office hosted their signature Coffee Hour event, this time virtually, where residents could chat while enjoying coffee no matter where in the world they were.

Learn more about our remarkable 90 year history

Read and listen to Oral Histories archived at the Bancroft Library.

Read I-House stories from our founders, staff, and alumni.

Join our new I-House Berkeley Connect platform.

Share Your Favorite I-House Memories!

1940s news reel video about International House

I-House Berkeley: 1940s News Reel

I-House 90th Anniversary Logo

International House Berkeley officially opened on August 18, 1930. Consider making a donation to celebrate our remarkable history!

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