Berkeley Landmarks :: 2010 Designations

Berkeley Landmarks designated in 2010

The YWCA in its early days (The Architect & Engineer, May 1960)

The YWCA now (photo: Steven Finacom)

University YWCA
Joseph Esherick (1958)
2600 Bancroft Way
Designated: 6 May 2010

Joseph Esherick (1914–1998), who would become world-famous as the architect of Wurster Hall (with Vernon DeMars and Donald Olsen), The Cannery in San Francisco, the demonstration houses at Sea Ranch, and Monterey Bay Aquarium, had a largely residential practice when he received the commission to design this understated building. The YWCA, founded in 1889, was seeking to replace its Julia Morgan–designed “Y Cottage,” which stood just outside Sather Gate and had been sold to U.C. for its expansion.

The YMCA board wanted “a feeling of simplicity,” and they couldn’t have selected a better architect than the self-effacing Esherick, who believed and taught generations of students that buildings should be designed from the inside out. “Beauty,” he said, “is a byproduct of solving problems correctly.”

The exterior derives inspiration from William Wurster’s Yerba Buena Club in the Golden Gate International Exposition. A central atrium and a trellised terrace bring nature into the building. “The warm materials of the interior, as well as numerous windows and doors that admit light and allow indoor/outdoor access, reinforce a sense of space that is more domestic than commercial,” notes the landmark application.

The Fish-Clark house, 1545 Dwight Way (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2008)

Fish-Clark House
A. H. Broad (1883)
1545 Dwight Way
Designated: 5 August 2010

This Stick-Eastlake Victorian was one of the earliest houses to go up in the Spaulding Tract, which at the time was largely rural. It was built by the prolific Berkeley contractor, pioneer civic figure, and amateur artist Alphonso Herman Broad for A.C. Fish of San Francisco. Mr. Fish remained here only a brief while (he might have been the same A.C. Fish who engaged in mining and orange growing in Southern California several years later), and within a year or two, the house was acquired by William Clark, owner of the Pacific Spring and Mattress Company of San Francisco, and his wife Lillie. The Clarks lived here for twelve years with their numerous children and servants. In addition to commuting to San Francisco, Clark operated this property as a typical Victorian mini-farm.

In 1919, the house was converted into six apartments. For the next forty years, the building was owned by absentee landlords. In the 1960s, the house was co-owned by Ralph Anspach, future SFSU professor of Economics and author of the board game Anti-Monopoly. In 1971, the house became the home of Village of Arts and Ideas. Lee Felsenstein of the Community Memory Project rented an office here in 1974. The house was sold again in 1980, serving a Christian community called The Ark. From 2002 until early 2010, it was home to S.T.E.P.S. (Sobriety Through Education and Peer Support). At the time of the designation, the 25-room house was on the market. The landmark application is accessible online.


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