Berkeley Landmarks :: 2020 Designations

Berkeley Landmarks designated in 2020

Dilley House when new (Roger Sturtevant, Pencil Points, May 1944)

Grace Stearns Dilley House
Francis Joseph McCarthy (1940)
1399 Queens Road
Designated: 6 February 2020

Dilley House today (photo: Maria Sakovich, 2019)

Grace Stearns Dilley and her college-age daughter, Marguerite, wanted their future Berkeley home, on a lot high in the hills amid Eucalyptus groves, to be a one-room rustic cabin with exposed rafters, a fireplace, and a lean-to kitchen and bath. However, upon submitting her floor plan to the FHA for a construction loan, Mrs. Dilley was told that a licensed architect must draw the plans. Enter Francis Joseph McCarthy, recommended by friends.

Under no circumstances did the Dilleys want a modern house, but that is what they got, and they soon came to appreciate McCarthy’s thoughtful Second Bay Tradition design, which includes a double shed roof; clerestory windows for light and tree views; and window walls oriented toward San Francisco Bay.

West façade (Roger Sturtevant, Pencil Points, May 1944)

As a concession to FHA requirements, a bedroom was added, but the redwood-sided house still comprises only 740 square feet. Almost all of the original architectural features, finishes, and even some of the furnishings and appliances remain.

McCarthy’s floor plan (Pencil Points, May 1944)

Francis Joseph McCarthy (1910–1965), whose design career extended from about 1930 to 1965, was trained in the office of William Wurster, among other architectural firms. According to his biography, “McCarthy opened his own practice in San Francisco in 1938. His work encompassed numerous residential, municipal, and commercial commissions throughout California, including a hospital and health center for the County of Inyo, alterations to the Palace Hotel (San Francisco), and the Electronic Engineering Associates Building (San Carlos). In addition, McCarthy specialized in library buildings, designing the Stanford University Library, Santa Rosa Public Library, and Inyo County Public Library, among others.”

Living room & bedroom (Roger Sturtevant, Pencil Points, May 1944)

The house is important for its association with the noted puppeteers Grace Stearns Dilley and her husband, Perry Dilley, who introduced marionettes and guignol to the people of California. Both were deeply involved in the Bay Area’s creative and bohemian community of the first half of the 20th century. The house was designated for that association and for the way in which it expresses and preserves Bay Region design traditions and represents a good example of McCarthy’s work and part of the history of residential and cultural development in Berkeley.

The landmark application and associated reports are accessible online.

Whittemore/Woodworth House (courtesy of the owners)

Whittemore/Woodworth House
Builder unknown (c. 1889)
2043 Lincoln Street
Designated: 5 March 2020

This Queen Anne cottage was found by the Landmarks Preservation commission to be an outstanding example of its style, featuring a steeply pitched roof of irregular shape, with a dominant front-facing gable; asymmetrical façade with a partial-width porch and spindlework ornamentation; patterned shingles; gable ornamentation; bay windows; dentils; large panes of glass bounded by smaller panes; and overhangs accentuated by corner brackets.

The house is one of the earliest houses constructed in the two-block Golden Gate Homestead tract, which was subdivided in 1887 by Thomas F. Graber, a lawyer and landowner who at various times in the 19th century served as Berkeley’s City Attorney, City Clerk, and Trustee. A number of the buildings in the tract have been altered, and this cottage is a rare example of a mostly intact Victorian representing the style and character of the early days of this residential neighborhood.

The first owner of this house was Rev. Everett T. Whittemore, founding pastor of Berkeley’s First Baptist Church. The second owners were Charles W. and Leonora Woodworth. Prof. Woodworth founded the Department of Entomology at the University of California and taught there from 1891 until his retirement in 1930.

The landmark application and associated reports are accessible online.

The Luttrell House in 1939 (Ormsby Donogh files, BAHA archives)

Captain James F. & Cecilia M. Luttrell House
Ira Alton Boynton (1889)
2328 Channing Way
Designated: 2 July 2020

The Luttrell House today (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2020)

The James & Cecilia Luttrell House is an almost perfectly preserved Queen Anne Victorian that retains the vast majority of its original façade elements. Constructed in 1889, it was the fourth house built on Block 5 of the College Homestead Association tract and is now the oldest structure standing on Assessor’s Block 1883, as well as the least altered one.

The Luttrell House is one of a handful surviving local buildings attributed to or known to have been designed by Ira A. Boynton (1844–1921), a Maine-born pioneer builder who practiced in Berkeley from 1877 until 1900. In 1889, the year of construction of the Luttrell House, Boynton and his partner, Carlos Reuben Lord, built 29 structures, including the Peralta Park Hotel and six houses in the new Peralta Park subdivision, where the Julius Alfred Lueders House and the Anita Fallon House are still standing. In 1892–03, Boynton built the Edward A. Brakenridge House, a designated landmark at 1410 Bonita Avenue. Boynton is also said (albeit without solid evidence) to have built the landmark Samuel C. Clark Cottage, aka Morning Glory House (c. 1886–87) at 2009 Berkeley Way.

The present house was constructed for Captain James F. Luttrell (1858–1899) and his wife, Cecilia (1856–1934). The captain was a well-known figure in Pacific maritime circles, and his name frequently appeared in the San Francisco newspapers during the 1890s. Commanding trading ships on the South Pacific islands route, Captain Luttrell served as an important source of news about activities in the South Seas islands and reports on other captains and ships plying the Pacific Ocean. Mrs. Luttrell accompanied her husband on some of his voyages.

The Luttrell House is listed in the State Historic Resources Inventory with the status code 3S (Appears eligible for the National Register as an individual property through survey evaluation). It retains integrity of location, design, materials, setting, feeling, and association.

The landmark application and associated reports are accessible online.

The Borg Building in 2020 (photo: BAHA)

Borg Building
Schirmer, Bugbee & Co. (1923)
2136–2154 San Pablo Avenue
Designated: 1 October 2020

Designed by William E. Schirmer and Arthur S. Bugbee for businessman and cinema exhibitor Lawrence Borg, this one-story reinforced concrete commercial building is a significant example of the architects’ early work. Beyond his collaborations with Bugbee, Schirmer went on to become famous for his residential work in Oakland, Piedmont, and Berkeley.

One of a few intact examples of its period left on an ever-changing San Pablo Avenue, the Borg Building retains many character-defining features, including a symmetrical façade with three-part decorative entablature; pilasters with Corinthian capitals; clerestory windows; mosaic tile entryway floors; and most of the original storefronts.

The Borg Building in 1967 (Humphrey slide collection, BAHA archives)

At the time that this building was constructed, Lawrence Borg was managing the well-established Varsity Theatre one block away. While he intended to locate a new theatre in this structure, he ended up selling it within two years and turned his attention to further development of West Berkeley with the Rivoli Theatre, which he owned in partnership with the Golden State chain.

Many businesses came and went during the Borg Building’s history, selling pets, paint, baked goods, and Hungarian food, among many others. The Steppenwolf club, established in 1958, was an important cultural hangout in the 1960s and ’70s. Mario Savio tended bar here as a philosophy student, and the Magic Theatre mounted its early productions here. Most recently, the same space was the long-term home of the Sink Factory, now relocated a few blocks to the north.

While the Borg Building has seen updates over time, it retains integrity of location, design, materials, and setting.

The landmark application and associated reports are accessible online.

Steilberg House, 1 Orchard Lane (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

Steilberg House and Cottages
Walter T. Steilberg (1921, 1922, 1930, 1931)
One Orchard Lane, 1 Panoramic Way, 4 Mosswood Lane
Designated: 3 December 2020

The Steilberg House and Cottages are contributing structures in the Panoramic Hill Historic District, listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

Built in 1922, the three-story, 12-room main house at 1 Orchard Lane was the principal residence of architect Walter Steilberg and his family. The house is aligned along a north-south axis to maximize western views. It is built on sloping ground, with each floor opening onto a terrace or a deck. A pair of two-story wings flanks a three-story octagonal tower. The tower and the ground floors of the wings are clad in rose-colored stucco, while the projecting second floors on either side are covered with untreated redwood shingles. An abundance of windows and French doors featuring a variety of designs displays a recurring Chinese motif. The top floor of the tower, originally an open balcony and now glazed, features a parapet made up of Steilberg’s signature Chinese perforated tiles.

Cottage and garages, 1 Panoramic Way (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

The small brown-shingle cottage at 1 Panoramic Way and the garage on which it rests were built in 1921. The Steilbergs lived in this cottage until the main house was constructed. The cottage sits atop a two-car concrete garage whose redwood doors, embellished with decorative cutouts and glass panes, are hinged and roll along a metal track inside the garage. Perforated Chinese green tiles serve as air vents embedded in the concrete under the cottage. Connected to the cottage is a brick-paved pergola that extends along the entire Panoramic Way frontage. At its southern end, it is anchored by a delightful brown-shingle playhouse with an oversized amber-glass window featuring a flower-like leaded-glass medallion. Supporting the pergola is a concrete retaining wall with with a built-in garage constructed in 1931.

Steilberg Playhouse (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

The 1923 Berkeley Fire led Steilberg to experiment with fireproof building materials. In 1930, he built a beguiling Mediterranean-style cottage at the rear of his property, using Fabricrete, a material he patented.

Fabricrete cottage, 4 Mosswood Lane (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

Documents related to the landmark designation are accessible online.


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