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Pinnacle of his life: Former Nevada City mayor Conley S. Weaver, 88, dies

Conley S. Weaver left the building.

On October 18, Weaver died peacefully at his Nevada City home, the Red Castle, with his wife, Mary Louise, by his side. Conley was 88 years old.

As one of 16 children, he was born and raised in Sacramento. He attended Sacramento Junior College, then earned a degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley in 1957. He worked his way through college working three jobs. A favorite saying was “Go bears!” He loved architectural drawing and excelled in this field. He honed this skill at Berkeley, long before the days of CAD (computer-aided design) drawings. He often said, “Architecture starts right here in the brain, then it goes down to your arm, then down to your fingertips and onto paper.

After Cal, he attended the Naval Officer Academy in Rhode Island. As a Navy Lieutenant JG, he served at Mare Island Naval Shipyard from 1957 to 1960. There he designed and supervised the construction of facilities to build and repair nuclear submarines and naval vessels.

In 1956 Conley married Mary Louise Holland. It was a good match, which lasted 65 years. They loved living in Oakland. Conley enjoyed golfing at Claremont Country Club. He was a great golfer all his adult life.

Another passion was singing. He had been singing bass since his college days with a jazz quartet. More recently he sang locally with the New Orpheum Jazz Quartet with Allan Haley, Steve Tassone and John Darlington.

He was licensed to practice in California, Nevada, Colorado, Arizona and Texas, and was based in San Francisco. Conley once said, “When I assume room temperature, the only thing I want to take with me is my architect’s license.”

In San Francisco, he designed and supervised the construction of the Foremost McKesson Tower/Crocker Plaza, One Market Plaza, Pacific Gateway Tower and Fifty California Street Tower. This is the super short list.

With its own firms, Primiani-Weaver AIA, and the Weaver Architectural Group, their footprints are major and numerous. They designed and supervised the construction of office buildings, public buildings, shopping malls, large bank stores and parking lots. His work features prominently in the San Francisco skyline, with nine major skyscrapers among them.

He was the main architect of the reconstruction of the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. It was built for the 1916 Panama-Pacific Exposition to house and display works of art. Designed by Bernard Maybeck, it was only to last a few years. Conley commissioned sculptor Beniamo Bufano to make molds of the intricate features of this structure, to accurately and perfectly replicate its stunning, delicate detail and beauty during reconstruction. He oversaw this project from 1964 to 1974. It is the only remaining building from this exposition.


He and his wife Mary Louise made many forays into Nevada City while living and working in the Bay Area. A favorite lodging place was the Red Castle. Eventually they purchased this Gothic Revival style brick building and continued its operation as their first bed and breakfast until 2001. In retirement, they used it simply as their home.

Conley served as Nevada City Planning Commissioner and was elected to the Nevada City Council in 2002. His extensive professional experience and knowledge have made positive differences for this small gold rush town of 3,000 inhabitants.

One example: Then-City Manager Beryl Robinson eventually acquired a former Forest Service equipment yard on Commercial Street to build a sizable parking lot. Robinson thought there were a few spaces missing. Weaver redesigned it overnight, adding needed spaces and amenities. He has served the city very well ever since.

“Conley was a major asset to Nevada City,” Robinson said. “The combination of his architectural expertise and love of history made him an excellent fit for our city.”

Nevada City Hall is a WPA Modern Art project built in 1937. When it needed major upgrades, Weaver stepped in as the coordinating architect. Together with their fellow architects, Bruce Boyd and Gary Harr, they designed it and oversaw the reconstruction. In 2004, Nevada City won the prestigious Historic Preservation Award from the Art Deco Society of California.

He was also the coordinating architect for the Nevada City Railroad Museum and served as mayor when the city acquired Sugarloaf. He guided the construction of Union Street’s Robinson Plaza, a major public gathering space.

In 2002, a significant 1800s building on North Pine Street was completely destroyed by fire. It housed a large business, Friar Tucks Restaurant and Bar. Weaver became the town’s liaison to expedite plans, approvals, and construction while retaining its character and historic authenticity. In just 14 months it was completed, historically accurate and reopened for business.

Conley considered his final career, the contribution of his service as mayor of Nevada City, to be the pinnacle of his life. He proudly drove a car with license plates, “Alcalde”, Spanish for mayor, and loved people asking him what it meant.

Conley is survived by his wife, Mary Louise, and their daughter, Sydney Weaver.

Paul Matson lives in Nevada City. He is a member of the editorial board of The Union

Conley S. Weaver
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