Berkeley Landmarks :: 2015 Designations

Berkeley Landmarks designated in 2015

The Channing Apartments shortly after completion (The Architect & Engineer, Oct. 1914)

The Channing Apartments in 2014 (photo: Daniella Thompson)

Channing Apartments
Walter H. Ratcliff (1913)
2409 College Avenue
Designated: 5 February 2015

The Channing Apartments is the oldest surviving apartment building designed by the important Berkeley architect Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr. The building was constructed in 1913 by the Alameda County Home Investment Company, which was founded by Ratcliff and his partner, Charles Louis McFarland.

The building is distinguished by its graceful façade, which echoes that of the Hearst Memorial Mining Building on the University of California campus. It was featured in the October 1914 issue of The Architect and Engineer as part of a 23-page lead article on Ratcliff’s recent work.

In the mid-1920s, Alameda County Home Investment Co. sold the Channing Apartments to John Weston Havens, a nephew of Francis K. Shattuck and heir to his estate. Following Havens’ death in 1929, the building passed into the possession of his only son, John Weston Havens, Jr., who kept it until his own death in 2001. The Havens estate sold the building in 2005.

When the Channing Apartments were built, the Ellsworth Tract and its neighboring blocks were among the most elegant neighborhoods in Berkeley. Over the decades, campus expansion has brought about the destruction of several residential Southside blocks and the degradation of many surviving buildings. The Channing Apartments now face three institutional blocks that were almost completely cleared of their original buildings for the construction of Unit 1 and Unit 2 residence halls and the Underhill parking structure and athletic field. On its own side of the street, the Channing Apartments building is the only unaltered survivor from the first half of the 20th century.

The landmark application is accessible online.

Hull Undertaking Co. & Little Chapel of the Flowers (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2015)

Hull Undertaking Co. & Little Chapel of the Flowers
Hutchison & Mills (1923); Francis Harvey Slocombe (1928)
3049–3051 Adeline Street
Designated: 3 September 2015

One of the most outstanding examples of Storybook Style architecture in Berkeley, the Hull Undertaking Company complex comprises five interconnected buildings constructed between 1923 and 1942. They include the original Undertaking Building at 3051 Adeline Street (1923); the Little Chapel of the Flowers at 3049 Adeline Street (1928); and three accessory buildings at 1905, 1909, and 1911–1915 Essex Street.

The Undertaking Building is the most notable example in Berkeley of the work of the Oakland architectural firm Hutchison & Mills, which was active in 1921–1928, designing attractive store buildings and apartments that continue to contribute to the character of Berkeley’s built environment. Featuring a rolled-edge, thatch-like roof; half-timbering; stucco walls embedded with stones; leaded-glass windows; and numerous arched French doors, the Undertaking Building embodies the romantic tendency in the 1920s to borrow quaint, rustic elements from English vernacular architecture.

The Little Chapel of the Flowers is the best surviving example (along with its 1933 replica in San Jose) of the work of architect Francis Harvey Slocombe, designer of the legendary Mapes Hotel in Reno. Featuring an organically shaped bell tower; a rolling, thatch-like roof with huge dormers; an abundance of leaded glass, stained glass, and steel sash; and the liberal use of brick and stone combined with rough stucco, this instantly memorable building is unique in Berkeley and has remained essentially unchanged over its 87-year life.

The Hull Undertaking Company represented a continuous chain of ownership from Berkeley’s first mortuary, established by Frank W. Durgin in 1894. Durgin rejoined the business in the late 1920s, and the firm was known as Hull & Durgin until 1941.

The Hull Undertaking complex is the only example of Storybook Style in the Ashby Station district, which comprises a very high percentage of Colonial Revival buildings constructed during the first decade of the 20th century. During the 1940s and ’50s, the Little Chapel of the Flowers was Berkeley’s most beloved wedding venue. Beginning in the mid-1970s, the Hull Undertaking Co. complex underwent a transformation, becoming a hub for cultural uses. Long-term tenants included the West Coast Print Center, which served the literary community and printed hundreds of poetry books and literary publications; the Fifth String Music Store, an important gathering point for acoustic string players; and Marmot Mountain Works, a world-renowned wilderness equipment store.

The landmark application is accessible online.


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