The current list of donors

The following is a complete list of the donors to the production of the film “Fire Ruin Renewal “, starting with the initial funding from an Oakland Cultural Arts Grant in 2011.

Under the non-profit fiscal agent, The Institute For Historical Study, the film has received funding support from the following: The Berkeley Rotary Club, Mary Ann Helmholtz,   Meyer Sound, Sim Warkov, Anne Bell Robb, Pauli and Sandy Muir,                           Frances C.Taliaferro, Bennett F. Markel, Edward (Pete) Dowling, Dennis Dowling,            Linnea and Grier Graff, Patricia A. Dowling, Shirley and Michael Traynor,                 Elizabeth J. Bell, Ulricke and Michael Hanley, Sarah and Ivan Diamond,                            Bill and Marianna Goodheart,John Newell, Elizabeth Pigford,                                Margaretta Anne Mitchell,Suzanne Riess,Robert Rogers, Gregory Jurin, Bill Riess,         Carl Kohnert, Gloria Bowles, Alex & Judith Glass, Molly R-M. Fowler,                         Michael & Sandra Coleman, Ross Hutcheon, Barbara Hunt, Martha Baker,                   Michael & Janice Holland, Frank Silver, Chiuyit Lian, Sheila and Toby Schwartzburg,    Jessica & Michael Marlitt, Karl & Sue Bottigheimer, Tony Conte, Diane Olson,                  Russ Hutcheon, Caryn Gregg, Ed & Marsha Thayer, Carolyn Rising, Andrew Greenwood, Susan Parry, Linda & Douglas Dobson, Barbara Goldenberg, Trish & Tony Hawthorne, Susan Terris, Lynn Horowitz, Valerie and Richard Herr, Gloria Bowles, Bianca Blesching, Jim Aron, Richard Lee, Molly R.-M. Fowler, Katinka Wyle, Ginny and Dick Lombardi.

I am grateful to each and everyone of these wonderful people and thank you all for your belief in this project. I will continue to add donors to the list in new posts as we complete the funding for the film.


I am absolutely thrilled with the film. It was a tremendous work of art and so personal and true, as only you can do.Thank you from my heart.

Betsy Minkler, fire survivor


Your film was beautifully done! Very moving.

Laura Cottril, photographer

Response: City Club


Thank you for your excellent presentation. It was very well spaced and organized, with pictures that told the story with grace and beauty. The members I spoke to on my way out all seemed very satisfied by the insight and photographic art. I liked the music too! I hope you will create many more movies with interesting subjects.

Claudine Torfs, City Commons Club



Screening on March 2 at the City Commons Club, Berkeley

City Commons Club of Berkeley meets in the historic Berkeley City Club at 2315 Durant Avenue; Berkeley. The building was designed by noted architect and BCC member Julia Morgan. For information about City Commons: or call (510) 845-8055 or (510) 428-0222.

Pre-meeting coffee, soft drinks, wine, and conversation from 11:20 in the Venetian Room. Lunch served from 11:45 to 12:15.  Lunch is $17.00; coffee only is $1.00. Speaker begins at 12:30 and meeting adjourns at 1:30. Visitors are welcome:  please call for lunch reservations by the day before the Friday meeting: Jane Barrett–(510) 845-8055.

Friday, March 2, 2012      Noon Luncheon
Ms. Margaretta K. Mitchell, Author, Berkeley Photographer & Film-Maker
“The 1991 Phoenix Firestorm in the Berkeley/Oakland Hills”
Ms. Mitchell created a visual documentary of the firestorm disaster, aftermath, and recovery for the recent 20th anniversary commemoration of that disastrous event that killed 25 people, injured 150 others, and caused some 1.5 billion dollars in damage. Ms. Mitchell will show her documentary film,” Fire Ruin Renewal ” and will then discuss its production and other details related to her project and to the firestorm itself.

Responses keep coming

What a poignant memory of that terrible day, but how nice to follow you through to the other side and to see Fred once again. Thank you. A great job.

Mike and Sheila Humphreys

Margaretta Mitchell’s film “Fire”, reveals  a personal saga of shock, action and endurance in response to the horrific Oakland Hills fire.  Having witnessed the fire myself, I thought the film captured the intensity of the collective urban surprise to this visit from Nature. In addition, this film is a love story about a house and its history and honoring the past through renewal and restoration.

Jo Whaley, photographer

New Response

First I want to say that I was aghast at the enormity of the firestorm. Visually it came alive in all its terror. You wove the parts together into a complex fabric of journal, voice, film and family histories. The house was breathing through out- not dead, as you said, but sick. The drama was gut wrenching and part of me wonders how you can keep viewing it. But the restoration is the phoenix part that brought healing. How I remember that Frederick really took hold and played a major part. His documentation was so important to this film.

You made an impressive piece, artfully knitting the threads into a collaborative whole. The house was giving back to you even as you restored it. I love that you found documents of its origin as you broke into the walls. I am so proud of you. It must feel so fine to have seen this film/story through to completion.

Anne Bell Robb, Kedron Design

Another Response

“Your beautiful documentary: so moving, so historically fascinating. From raging fire to ruin and renewal, the story ends with a hopefulness that is amazing. You have a prize-winner here. Congratulations.”

Holly French Perry

more responses

“The film is beautifully done. You brought in so much drama. It was wonderful to see the neighbors helping and to learn about the early days of the house through the historical photographs. I did not know how much damage there really was, and how much had to be done to make the restoration so complete.”

Anthony Bruce, Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association

“I just finished watching Fire Ruin Renewal and it is a fabulous recount of the Oakland Hill Fire.  It’s so well produced and comes together with great editing, sound, composition, music.  The footage you’ve secured, which I’ve never seen, is excellent and the story of your house and photos are perfect.

I really didn’t realize how hard you were hit and the work that had to be done. One could never tell by the way you home looks now.    Now, you should consider making more films!”

Foster Goldstrom, Chabot Canyon (Bernard Maybeck home owner)

Responses to the film

I am gathering the responses to the screening of “Fire Ruin Renewal” and will be posting them here with gratitude to those who have written me upon seeing it. Thank you.

“I watched the dvd this afternoon (a warm, dry autumn day….) and I found it wonderfully done. It’s touching and inspiring, and I learned a lot about your house that I couldn’t never have imagined. Not just the history but of course how incredibly complex it was for you and Frederick to rebuild it. I’m sure that, as awful as it may have been, it was doubtless easier for those who had lost their entire homes to just build something completely new. But the lovingly restored version of your original house is something we in the neighborhood can all be grateful for. I remember walking my dog by there and seeing the tarps and plastic sheeting covering it for months and months, but I never imagined how much work was going on underneath.

Thanks for the sensitive use of my music. I am delighted that you chose “Hallelujah Junction” for the ending. That’s one of my favorite pieces, and “Hallelujah!” is certainly the word that springs to everyone’s mind when they reach the end of watching your odyssey.”

John Adams, Composer