Berkeley Landmarks designated in 2007

The Maybeck house viewed from the rear, 1902 (Dimitri Shipounoff collection, BAHA archives)

The Maybeck house today (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2007)

Bernard & Annie Maybeck House No. 1
Bernard Maybeck (1892–1902)
1300 Martin Luther King, Jr. Way at Berryman St.
Designated: 1 February 2007

This was the Maybecks’ first house in Berkeley. They purchased the double lot in 1892, and for over ten years, it was the only inhabited one on its block. Although several published accounts mention an existing one-story cottage on the property, new evidence from tax records and newspaper reports would indicate that the Maybecks bought an empty lot and built their house from scratch. Either way, Maybeck soon began to transform the cottage. Lacking the means to hire a contractor, the architect initially did much of the work himself.

After he was appointed instructor in drawing at the Civil Engineering College of the University of California, Maybeck offered interested engineering students an independent course in architectural design, given in his house. The students (Wiley Corbett, Edward H. Bennett, Julia Morgan, Lewis Hobart, John Bakewell, Arthur Brown, Jr., G. Albert Lansburgh, and Loring P. Rixford) worked on the additions to the house as part of the course. Maybeck would apply the principles tried out in this domestic laboratory to his early private commissions, the first of which was the Charles Keeler house (1895). The Maybecks lived here until 1906.

Fašade (courtesy of

Interior on a period postcard (Moulin photo)

Interior, 2005 (courtesy of

Berkeley Iceland
William Clement Ambrose (1939)
2727 Milvia Street
Designated: 5 April 2007

Berkeley Iceland is one of the largest rinks in the western United States. With its huge expanse of ice and vaulted steel structure, the Iceland building is an impressive engineering feat, representing design and construction techniques in ice arenas that are found in few other places. Berkeley Iceland is also representative of its period of construction, distinguished by sleek lines, curved corners, and prominent Streamline Moderne features. Opened in 1940 following a community fundraising drive, Berkeley Iceland hosted three U.S. Figure Skating Championships. In 1966, Peggy Fleming was a gold medal winner here. Learn more at Save Berkeley Iceland.

Corkill House, 1939 (Ormsby Donogh files, BAHA archives)

Fred & Amy Corkill House
Russell R. Bixby (1908)
2611 Ashby Avenue
Designated: 5 April 2007

Representative of the gracious brown-shingle houses in the Benvenue-Hillegass neighborhood, the Corkill House, set along the busy artery of Ashby Avenue, helps define the historic character of this district. Fred Corkill was a mining engineer recruited by Francis Marion “Borax” Smith in 1899 as superintendent of his borax mining operations in Death Valley. Corkill Hall in Death Valley Junction (later Amargosa Opera House) was named after him. The current owners of the Corkill House wrote the landmark application. They plan to restore the house under the Mills Act.

Berkeley High School Gymnasium (Olla Podrida, December 1932)

Berkeley High School Gymnasium
William C. Hays (1922), Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr. (1929),
Thomas Franklin Chase (1936–37)
1920 Allston Way
Designated: 5 July 2007

The Berkeley High School Gymnasium is reflective of Berkeley’s educational aspirations during the era of the City Beautiful Movement, a time when Berkeley’s noted architects participated in the development of Berkeley’s public schools. In addition to being California’s first accredited high school, Berkeley High School boasts the first campus plan for a secondary school in the state.

William Charles Hays came to Berkeley from Philadelphia in 1904. Two years later, Hays joined the architectural faculty of the University of California as its second teacher and was instrumental in designing the U.C. campuses in San Francisco and Berkeley. When he took on the design of the BHS Gym, he had already designed the handsome Academic Building (now known as Building C), Jefferson School (City of Berkeley Landmark no. 117), and Thousand Oaks School (City of Berkeley Landmark no.182, demolished).

In 1929, Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr., who as City Architect in the 1910s had been strategic in planning Berkeley’s schools, designed two addition at the north and south end.In 1936, a major seismic reconstruction was undertaken by the structural engineer Thomas F. Chace, who had previously worked on the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, Kezar Stadium, and Memorial Stadium. He employed the most modern seismic retrofit techniques of the day and added Period Revival touches to the building, which had been neccessarily shorn of its glazed terra cotta ornament.

Cambridge Apartments c. 1940 (Ormsby Donogh files, BAHA archives)

and today (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2008)

Cambridge Apartments
Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr. (1914)
2500 Durant Avenue at Telegraph Avenue
Designated: 6 September 2007

Located on the southeast corner of Telegraph and Durant Avenues, this five-story building was constructed as a luxury apartment house with 48 residential units on the upper floors and four shops facing Telegraph Avenue. It was Walter Ratcliff’s largest commercial commission up to that date. The clients John Arthur Elston and George Clark, lawyers and business partners in the law firm of Elston, Clark and Nichols. At the time, Elston was a member of the board of trustees of the State Institution for the Deaf and Blind, and the following year he would be elected to the Sixty-fourth United States Congress.

The Cambridge Apartments marked the transformation of Telegraph Avenue from a street of homes to a commercial artery. Its fašade is clad in clinker brick, and three-dimensional classical ornamentation is suggested by the arrangement of the bricks. Sadly, the attractive cornice has been replaced by a naked concrete parapet.


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