#1 Maybeck Feature - Venturi Chimey

 "Look carefully and if you see that Venturi chimney - it's a Maybeck."

Jacomena Maybeck from "Maybeck - The Family View", 1980. 

The quintessential Maybeck feature is the Venturi chimney. Maybeck is known for putting in an oversized board-formed concrete fireplace with Venturi chimney in all his residential projects after around 1905 or so. The Venturi fireplace was patented in the 18th century by an Italian physicist who believed it would improve draft and Maybeck was apparently a big subscriber to this idea. His houses are full of many odd little details but none is so distinctly his as is the Venturi chimney.


Above you can see our Venturi chimney. The cap is a scrap of concrete. It's unclear what the cap used to look like but nearly all of them from this period appear to be  flat concrete like on the J. B. Tufts house of 1931.


J. B. Tufts house, 1931.


As Jacomena said, this is a distinctly Maybeck feature. The counter theory to our house being designed by Maybeck is that Maybeck's friend and builder from the time, Volney Rowland, builder of record for our house, simply copied Maybeck's style. But he also visited the house in 1951 and said it was designed by Maybeck. Maybeck was still alive in '51 and they could've simply went to Berkeley to visit him and ask - this fact is hand-written in the margin of the letter. We think it must have been some bureaucratic or tax reason why Maybeck wasn't on the building permit. Like Jacomena said, "If you see that Venturi chimney - it's a Maybeck." We agree