My Great-Grandfather, Samuel Berger emigrated to San Francisco in 1904 from Bucharest, Romania, where he learned his trade as a second generation wood carver. I was fortunate enough to have known him; he died in 1970 when I was ten years old.
Sam's woodcarvings grace some of California's most beautiful public and private buildings. His works can be found in many churches in San Francisco including, Grace Cathedral, Basilica of Mission Dolores, St. Peter and Paul's, Star of the Sea, St. Cecilia's and St. Brigid's, to name of few. Some of his crowning achievements were at Hearst Castle at San Simeon where he did most of his wood carving. Sam collaborated with the renowned architect, Julia Morgan, on much of his work.
Sam Berger's work has not been catalogued, and this is my attempt to chronicle some of his work in a series of postings. I stumbled upon some wonderful old family photo albums filled with church interiors and architectural elements. Other than a few living relatives that can identify his work, there are still many photos of carvings that are not labeled. This is going to be my journey to investigate and identify Sam Berger's most beautiful work from a bygone era.
The following are photos of Sam in front of the magnificent organ covers that he carved for Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Please be sure and click on the photos for super-enlarged detailed shots.