Berkeley Landmarks :: 2012 Designations

Berkeley Landmarks designated in 2012

John Boyd House in the 1950s (BAHA archives)

and in 1911 (photo: Michael Freund)

John Boyd House
1915 Addison Street
Structure of Merit
Designated: 5 January 2012

This modest Victorian cottage with Queen Anne elements was the home of one of Berkeley’s most colorful characters. An expressman by trade (his business card read “John Boyd, Boss Baggage Buster of Beautiful Berkeley”), John Boyd was a Civil War veteran and widely known as Berkeley’s “town philosopher.” A famous gadfly, Boyd was frequently featured in local newspapers as a poet, humorist, and writer of many letters to the editor. In addition, he was the author of the book The Berkeley Heroine.

Among Boyd’s civic feats was the 1900 campaign to erect a public drinking fountain next to the downtown Berkeley train station. He even dared to solicit funds from Phoebe Apperson Hearst, whose $50 donation put the campaign in motion and led to the installation, in August 1900, of an extremely ornate fountain, replete with sea serpents, shells, and vines.

Boyd lived in his Addison Street house until his death, on 26 January 1912. His wife having died in 1907, Boyd bequeathed the house to his son, Sherman, “to have and to hold until taxes get too high on the property for it to be retained as a residence, in which case the property may be sold and the money divided.”

The landmark application and related documents are available online.

University Art Museum

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2010

University Art Museum (Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive)
Mario J. Ciampi, Richard L. Jorasch, Ronald E. Wagner, & (initially) Paul W. Reiter (1967–1970)
2626 Bancroft Way/2625 Durant Avenue
Designated: 2 February 2012

The University Art Museum (BAM) is considered a masterwork of modernist design and has been called a “visual masterpiece.” In its scuptural forms, it outstandingly exemplifies the Brutalist style of its era. Especially impressive is the unique complex formed by the soaring atrium and spirals of multiple galleries and ramps, designed by Jorasch and Wagner. Also visually powerful is the building’s exterior, which strongly reflects the interior layout and presents staggered Cubist masses that rise and shift direction compellingly. BAM is a prime example of work by the office of Mario J. Ciampi (1907–2006), an important Bay Area architect and urban designer with a distinctive modernist flair.

Art historican Sidra Stich notes that “At one time the museum was the center of contemporary art activity in the Bay Area. It produced internationally significant exhibitions, had its finger on the pulse of avant-garde activity, and was an energizing hub for people and ideas [...] aspects of the [museum’s] program still focus on the current era, offering insights into contemporary ideas and modes of expression.”

The museum has a continuing commitment to presenting new and experimental work. Also exceptional is the museum’s world-class Pacific Film Archive.

The landmark application and related documents are available online.

The Mary J. Berg House in 1939 (Ormsby Donogh files, BAHA archives)

The Mary J. Berg House today (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2012)

Mary J. Berg House
William Garfield May (1901)
2517 Regent Street
Structure of Merit
Designated: 1 November 2012

The Mary J. Berg House is the oldest surviving building on the 2500 block of Regent Street. It was constructed when the streets south of Dwight Way were just beginning their transformation from farmland to suburban neighborhoods, and nine years before the appearance of the neighboring First Church of Christ, Scientist. This area (see history) is particularly vulnerable owing to its proximity to the U.C. campus and to Telegraph Avenue. Close to half of the buildings that stood on the 2500 block of Regent Street in 1911 have been demolished to make way for large mid-century apartment buildings, robbing the street of much of its historic fabric.

Home to the Berg family from 1901 until 1959, the Berg House was leased to the U.S. Government in 1943 and converted to five apartments for wartime housing, accommodating workers at the Kaiser shipyards in Richmond. Since 1988, the house was owned by a series of out-of-town landlords who allowed it to deteriorate through neglect and improper remodeling, yet its street façade remains practically intact.

The building was sold again in 2011, and the new owners applied for a demolition permit. Community action resulted in a Structure of Merit designation for the Berg House. The owners appealed this designation to the City Council, but the public hearing, scheduled for 21 May 2013, was never opened. In December 2013, the owners withdrew their appeal.

The landmark application and related documents are available online.


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