Regional Parks Foundation Helps Restore WPA Era Waterfall


The East Bay Regional Park District and the Regional Parks Foundation celebrated the restoration of the Temescal Waterfall on March 28, 2014 at Temescal Regional Park in Oakland. The Regional Parks Foundation assisted with the repair of the WPA-era water feature.

?The Temescal Waterfall that cascades through the gardens of the Beach House is an aesthetic and historic park attraction that was built in the Park District’s early years. The federal Works Projects Administration (WPA) originally designed, commissioned and constructed the Beach House and waterfall in 1940, and the building housed the first administration of the Park District. During its heyday years in the 1940s and 1950s, the waterfall was a beautiful background feature, the charm of which enhanced visitors’ enjoyment of the gardens and park.

“At the request of the Park District, the Foundation steps in to support special capital improvement projects throughout the Regional Parks,” explained Regional Parks Foundation President William Acevedo. “We want to create broader public access to the parks - including restoring historical resources such as this for all to enjoy.”

The original water pump, at almost 75 years old, has been in need of significant repairs to return the water feature to its original splendor. The project included the installation of a new self-priming pump, improvements to the pump intake structure in the lake, installation of a secondary strainer on the intake side of the new pump, new plumbing from the pump to the top of the cascade, and repair of the electrical panel and main service feeds to the pump and switch gear that were damaged by a fallen tree. The combined improvements address the dwindling water pressure that previously occurred over time as underwater debris would block the system. The total project cost was $35,000.

“By 2012, the pump and the infrastructure for the water feature were either damaged, or near the end of their useful service lives,” noted District Chief of Maintenance and Skilled Trades Kelly Barrington. “We’re grateful that with the help of the Regional Parks Foundation, and staff efforts, we were able to restore the water flow to that seen in historic photos, and make significant structural improvements.”

The Park District and the Foundation held a dedication at Lake Temescal Regional Park on March 28, 2014, to celebrate the restoration of this historic feature. Regional Parks Foundation and East Bay Regional Park District Board members and staff attended. The reception also capped off a tour that day of historic Park District facilities including the Brazilian Room in Tilden Regional Park, and McLaughlin Eastshore State Park. The Park District offered the tour in conjunction with the symposium,Frederick Law Olmsted Jr: A Vision for the American West, held at Stanford University March 27 – 28.

District Board Member Beverly Lane joined the celebration along with fellow Board Member John Sutter. “It just provides a beautiful, quiet backdrop in the midst of an urban area,” said Lane. “And, of course, it uses recirculating water from the lake.”

“The staff did an excellent job on the repairs,” added Sutter. “I remember the waterfall from when I was a child and used to swim at Temescal, and it was a working water feature. Now we, and generations to come, have a renewed opportunity to enjoy this legacy.”

The Regional Parks Foundation was established in 1969 to encourage private contributions in support of the East Bay Regional Park District. Besides directly supporting District programs, the Foundation holds and invests funds for future use by the District. Over the past 42 years, the Regional Parks Foundation has received donations, land, and in kind services valued at more than $35 million. 

The East Bay Regional Park District is a system of beautiful public parks and trails in Alameda and Contra Costa counties east of San Francisco Bay, established in 1934. The system comprises 114,000 acres in 65 parks including over 1,200 miles of trails for hiking, biking, horseback riding and nature learning. Find out more at


The Olmsted symposium was produced by the National Association for Olmsted Parks

Los Angeles planner Dr. Clement Lau has summarized the tour of the East Bay Regional Parks.

Isa Polt-Jones
(510) 544-2217