Berkeley Landmarks :: 2018 Designations

Berkeley Landmarks designated in 2018

Ormsby Donogh files, BAHA archives

George A. Mattern/Berkeley Bank Building
Louis M. Upton (1923)
2500 Shattuck Avenue at Dwight Way
Structure of Merit
Designated: 1 February 2018

Google Street View

Architect Louis Maylon Upton (1879–1943) made his name by designing elegant Pacific Heights mansions in San Francisco. Although he lived in Berkeley, Upton is known to have designed only four buildings here. Three of those projects, including this handsome, mixed-use corner building, were commissioned by the knitwear manufacturer George Alfred Mattern (1864–1945).

Constructed in 1923, the Mattern Building was originally clad entirely in buff-colored pressed brick on its street façades, and its corner storefront was designed to house a branch of the Berkeley Bank of Savings and Trust Company. When Bank of America took over the space in 1936, its exterior was clad in stucco. Today, the unpainted brick face remains on the second floor, on the southernmost Shattuck Avenue storefront, and on the western part of the Dwight Way façade.

Among the Mattern Building’s notable features are a cornice undermounted with dentils; horizontal bands of decorative brickwork below the cornice, above and below the second-floor windows; six fluted pilasters with four capitals incorporating a stylized BA motif; a cutoff corner with a balcony on the second story; double casement windows along the upper-level façades; and a five-part clerestory with turned-wood mullions above the entrance to the southernmost Shattuck Avenue storefront.

The Mattern Building anchors the northern end of a largely intact block of late 19th- and early 20th-century commercial structures. It is also a relatively rare surviving example in Berkeley of a multi-story, brick-clad, mixed-use building that retains much of its original design and its original unpainted brickwork.

The landmark application is accessible online.

Thomas & Louise Hicks House (photo: Shmuel Weissman)

Thomas & Louise Hicks House
Chapin A. Martin, builder (1904)
2901 Benvenue Avenue at Russell Street
Designated: 1 March 2018

The Thomas & Louise Hicks House, a 1904 Arts & Crafts residence built by Chapin A. Martin, is one of the most distinctive and best-preserved houses in the Elmwood district. It was among the earliest houses constructed in the Berry-Bangs Tract, and the first house on its block.

The Hicks House is distinguished by a cross-gabled roof with flaring eaves and upturned bargeboards; a symmetrical façade marked by large twin gables; a shingled second story overhanging a first story clad in heavily textured stucco; decorative rafter-tails in the eaves under the second story; an abundance of original wood-sash windows with latticed lights set in wooden muntins; clinker-brick base skirt, porch columns, porch parapets, and chimneys; and a central recessed portico with a heavy timber beam, exposed ceiling joists, and clinker-brick pilasters flanking the front door.

In its early days, the Hicks House was the home of a lumber dealer, followed in rapid succession by two executives of the Sherwin Williams paint company. For 37 years between 1919 and 1956, the Hicks House served as the manse of St. John’s Presbyterian Church and was the home of its pastors, notably Rev. Francis Wayland Russell, D.D., and Rev. Stanley Armstrong Hunter, D.D., both of whom were nationally known religious leaders. When St. John’s sold the Hicks House in 1956, it became the home and working studio of Mynard and Mary Groom Jones, two well-known concert singers and voice teachers who trained generations of classical singers.

The Hicks House retains integrity of location, design, materials, setting, feeling, and association. The landmark application is accessible online.

Campanile Way in the 1920s

331. Designation overturned by City Council on 20 September 2018.
Campanile Way
2301 Bancroft Way (University of California Campus)
Designated: 5 April 2018

Campanile Way is one of Berkeley’s oldest and most important landscape features. This campus roadway leads downhill from Sather Tower, pointing directly toward the Golden Gate and San Francisco Bay.

Wikimedia Commons

This view corridor was inspired by Frederick Law Olmsted in the early 1860s; he advised the private College of California on planning the new campus site and suggested that the magnificent and symbolic view towards the Golden Gate should be the organizing principle of campus design. In the 1870s, the first buildings on the campus were sited accordingly, flanking a “baseline for buildings” that matched the line of today’s roadway. In the 1880s, the first campus library, Bacon Hall (featuring its own bell, clock tower, and flagpole), stood at the top of the “Way.”

In the early 20th century, Campanile Way took on its familiar classical form, flanked by John Galen Howard’s handsome granite Beaux-Arts buildings, lined with rows of pollarded London planetrees, and crowned with Sather Tower at its top. Since then, generations of campus users and visitors have been daily inspired by the view of the bay and the Golden Gate from the top of the “Way.” Several U.C. campus planning documents currently in effect recognize the importance of this view corridor.

The landmark application is accessible online.

George Wilson House (Google Street View, 2018)

George Wilson House
M.J. Welch (1885–86)
2415 Blake Street
Designated: 6 December 2018

Designed by a prolific San Francisco architect, this small Italianate cottage was constructed a decade after the 1875 subdivision of the Leonard Tract, which had been open farmland until and shortly after that time. As such, the Wilson House represents one of the few original surviving structures in the tract.

Contrary to prevailing legends that have painted him as a banker who built himself a summer home in Berkeley, George Wilson (1847–1926) was an Irish immigrant who came to America in 1871 and settled in San Francisco, where he worked as a clerk, porter, and night watchman. The Berkeley residence was meant to be the Wilson family’s primary home, but the isolated locale and the howling coyotes soon drove them back to San Francisco. By 1900, Wilson was a widower with four daughters aged eight to 16. The Southside was developing, and a small commercial center was materializing at the intersection of Telegraph Avenue and Dwight Way. Beginning in 1902, the Wilsons were again listed in the Berkeley directory. The Blake Street house remained in the family until the early 1970s.

In 1974, the house was acquired by Herbert J. Bofinger (1920–1999), an architectural designer and landscaper who lived here until his death. In 1979, Bofinger designed and built in the rear garden a shingled, two-story cottage in the Third Bay Tradition style. This rear structure and Bofinger’s landscaping are included in the landmark designation.

The landmark application and associated reports are accessible online.

Torrey House, 1 Canyon Road (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

Torrey House & Cottage
Ernest Coxhead (1905–06); Walter T. Steilberg (1935)
One & 5 Canyon Road
Designated: 6 December 2018

This Panoramic Hill parcel is distinguished for its three major features: the Frederic & Alice Torrey residence (1905–06), designed by famed architect Ernest Coxhead in the First Bay Tradition style; the elegant Beaux-Arts stairway leading to the house, designed by Torrey’s partner, Henry Atkins; and the Second Bay Tradition shingled cottage atop a three-car Fabricrete garage (1935), designed by noted architect Walter T. Steilberg, who lived next door.

Frederic Cheever Torrey (1864–1935) was a famous art dealer and a partner in the tony San Francisco firm of Vickery, Atkins & Torrey, purveyors of paintings in oil and water color, fine prints, objects of art, and picture frames. In 1913, Torrey caused a major uproar when he purchased the most ballyhooed painting of that year’s Armory Show in New York: Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase. One of the Nude’s most frequent observers was a straggly-looking boy of 16 who lived close by at 2350 Prospect Street and often entered the house without knocking, selecting a book from the shelves and settling down to read. His name was Thornton Wilder.

The Torrey house, cottage, and stairway form part of the Panoramic Hill Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The landmark application and associated reports are accessible online.

Torrey cottage & garages, 5 Canyon Road (Google Street View, 2018)


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