Founder Alice Carey



Alice Carey’s career began in the early 1970s when she established the country’s first all-female contracting company. She entered the Master of Architecture program at the University of California, Berkeley in 1974 and after obtaining her degree, worked for local design firms including Esherick, Homsey, Dodge and Davis, one of the preeminent design firms associated with the Bay Region Style. There she formed her interest in the Second Bay Region style of architecture and its architects Joseph Esherick, William Wurster, Charles Moore and William Turnbull. She established Carey & Co. Architects in 1983, one of the country’s first woman-owned architectural practices specializing in historic preservation.

In 1991, the firm gained widespread prominence as the historic preservation architect for the rehabilitation of the buildings in San Francisco’s Civic Center damaged by the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake. From there, Alice pursued projects and clients that respected her commitment to historic preservation and adaptive use that kept buildings occupied and in use, not as mere monuments to the past. She served on numerous boards including those of San Francisco Architectural Heritage, San Francisco Beautiful, and the California Historic State Capitol Commission.

Alice possessed a particular passion for San Francisco’s old fire houses, interviewing veteran fire fighters, collecting firefighting equipment, and rehabilitating or providing historic reports for five of the City’s fire stations. In 1999, she purchased Old Engine Co. No. 2, constructed in 1909 and located one half block east of the Chinatown Gate. Alice rehabilitated this historic firehouse for the offices of Carey & Co., using every incentive available for historic building projects, as a demonstration that “it could be done”.

Outside of her architecture practice, Alice championed a deep involvement in the preservation community where she advocated for the continued use of historic resources. Her legacy and influence on the state’s built environment cannot be measured in terms of numbers of buildings or projects alone. Accompanied by an unwavering commitment to preservation values to the communities in which she worked and served, Alice conveyed a unique skill, style, spark, and wit to everything she encountered.

“I view myself, and Carey & Co., as a point on a continuum in the life of a historic building... we must always remember that each resource’s raison d’etre is for the people it serves. A perfect restoration is worthless if the building cannot be used.”