Before the Graduate Theological Union began in 1966, the hills had an expansive history. Starting in the 1900s, patron to the University of California, Phoebe Hearst, began drafting her plans for the Heart University Architectural Plan, which would have built around the current GTU area. Due to funding issues, Hearst’s home, connected to a reception hall and Wheeler’s home were the only buildings completed. The homes were completed in 1911 and brought with them a new wave of architectural design to the area. Many new, up-and-coming architects moved into the area, and the Grisby home was built. In the early 1920s, a fire spread throughout north Berkeley and destroyed most of the homes on the hill.
With most of the real estate up for grabs post-1923 fire, theological unions residing at the bottom of the hill quickly purchased land in a close proximity to one another. Over the next ten years, most of these churches would build their seminaries and create an alliance officially forming in the 1960s. The switch from residential property to institutionally-owned property brought along with it a new wave of architecture in the Berkeley hills area near campus. These buildings were styled in brick and often look like old European styled churches of the 1600s. They stood in stark contrast to the neoclassical Grecian theme spreading across UC Berkeley’s neighboring campus.