Berkeley Landmarks :: 2014 Designations

Berkeley Landmarks designated in 2014

2503, 2509 & 2511 Regent Street (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2014)

On 2 October 2014, the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated 2503, 2509, and 2511 Regent Street as City of Berkeley Landmarks, Structures of Merit. All three buildings were designed by the noted architect A. Dodge Coplin (1869–1908) in 1902–1903 and represent his earliest residential work in Berkeley.

Designed in the Colonial Revival style, the three houses demonstrate the architect’s departure from the conventional foursquare style prevalent in Colonial Revival “classic boxes.” Coplin’s individual flair is visible in quirky elements such as horizontally “stretched” façades and oversized windows.

The immediate area is rich in history and historic resources. Within a block and a half of the three houses there are nine other designated structures (including Berkeley’s only National Historic Landmark, the First Church of Christ, Scientist) and a designated site (People’s Park). An 11th landmark—the Woolley House—is scheduled to be moved to the parcel directly across the street by the end of 2014.

Directly across Dwight Way lies People’s Park, created in 1969 after the University of California acquired the land and demolished the buildings that used to fill that block. The bloody events following the creation of People’s Park have become one of the most defining moments in Berkeley’s history.

The 2500 block of Regent Street 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 this block in 1911 have been demolished to make way for modern apartment buildings. There are now ten apartment buildings on the block, of which seven were constructed between 1958 and 1966. A new six-story building is currently being proposed for 2539 Telegraph Avenue. If approved, it would have a second façade on Regent Street, replacing a mid-block pocket park.

With the designation of the three Coplin houses, the north end of Regent Street has become a de facto historic district.

Lucinda Reames House No. 1 in 1939 (Ormsby Donogh files, BAHA archives)

Lucinda Reames House No. 1 (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2014)

Lucinda Reames House No. 1
A. Dodge Coplin (1902–1903)
2503 Regent Street at Dwight Way
Structure of Merit
Designated: 2 October 2014

Having been commissioned to design two houses on one parcel, Coplin adapted the “Classic Box” style that was in vogue to the shallowness of the lot by presenting the long side of the house to the street. He added interest by “stretching” the façade horizontally. Among the elegant design elements are the oval window above the frotn entrance; a porch roof undermounted by scrolled brackets and decorated with a dentil frieze; large bay windows flanking the entrance; and boxed windows on the north and south façades.

The house was built for Lucinda Reames, an Oregon pioneer and the widow of a leading Jacksonville businessman and politician, who brought the youngest five of her ten children to Berkeley in order to give them access to higher education.

Among the subsequent owners was Francis J. Baronovich (later Frank J. Baron), grandson of Charles Vincent Baronovich, a colorful Croat who came to Karta Bay on Alaska’s Prince of Wales Island in the 1860s, pioneered the local mining and salmon saltery, and married a local chief’s daughter. Frank J. Baron obtained his PhD in Plant Physiology from the U.C. School of Forestry and eventually became Professor of Biology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA.

The landmark application is accessible here.

Lucinda Reames House No. 2 in 1939 (Ormsby Donogh files, BAHA archives)

Lucinda Reames House No. 2 (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2014)

Lucinda Reames House No. 2
A. Dodge Coplin (1903)
2509 Regent Street
Structure of Merit
Designated: 2 October 2014

The horizontally elongated façade and its design elements are even more exaggerated in the second Reames house, which was built as an income property. The house is distinguished by its “stretched” appearance and by the flared roof slopes and flared skirts on both floors. The second floor overhangs the first, and the eaves are ornamented by sawn rafter tails.

Historic photos suggest that this house was designed to look more rustic and informal than Reames House No. 1, although the distinction between the two has become blurred as a result of alterations and the ravages of time.

The Reames family returned to Oregon about 1915, and in 1921, the house was acquired by Jesse & Tinnie Culvyhouse who, like so many other parents, came here so that their children could attend the university (all four did). While living in Berkeley, Jesse Culvyhouse worked as a roadmaster for the San Jose Railway Company.

The Culvyhouses made 2509 Regent Street their home until 1952, when it was acquired by their neighbor, Verne Hughson, who lived next door. Mrs. Hughson rented rooms to students and sold this house to one of her tenants in 1978.

The landmark application is accessible here.

William Wilkinson House when new (Pusey Realty photo, BAHA archives)

William Wilkinson House (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2012)

William Wilkinson House
A. Dodge Coplin (1903)
2511 Regent Street
Structure of Merit
Designated: 2 October 2014

Like the Reames houses that are its immediate neighbors to the north, the William Wilkinson House is rectangular in its massing, but thanks to a deep lot, it was built to present its narrow side to the street and therefore lacks the overall “stretched” appearance of the other two.

The house is crowned by a hip roof with flared slopes, wide, boxed eaves, and a wide cornice—features repeated in the roofs over the front porch and the pentagonal bay window. The house is clad in its original narrow clapboard.

William Wilkinson was a retired farmer from San Joaquin County who had crossed the plains to California with ox teams in 1861. Wilkinson and his wife came to Berkeley about 1900, when their daughters had already been studying at the University of California for a few years. They built their first house in the rear of the lot (2515 Regent Street, then Manoa Avenue) and made it their home. The house at the front was rented to Robert and Elizabeth Fisk (see separate entry), retired pioneer newspaper publishers from Helena, Montana, whose youngest son, James K. Fisk, would become a prominent figure in Berkeley’s history.

William and Verne Hughson acquired the two Wilkinson houses in 1920. William was a fine cabinetmaker who designed furniture and lamps in the Arts & Crafts style and taught manual trainin in Berkeley’s public schools. The house remained in th family until 1985.

The landmark application is accessible here.


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