Berkeley Landmarks :: Berkeley City Club, Part 2


Berkeley City Club

Part 2: “A little tour of the clubhouse”

Daniella Thompson

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004


In November 1930, the inaugural issue of the monthly Berkeley Women’s City Club Record introduced the new building to club members via an article by Louise Marks, chairman [sic] of the building committee. The article was titled “A little tour of the clubhouse” and provided first-hand background information about the planning of the building:

[...] From that fortunate day when Miss Julia Morgan was given the responsibility of building a home and meeting place for Berkeley’s women until now, each phase has been carefully considered, satisfactory solutions have been found. Though the first plans of the City Club comprised many features which had been regarded as essentials, the practical and sensible decision of the directors proved to them that a few of the necessities resolved themselves into luxuries, and they were at first regretfully, and later happily, put aside.

As an instance, the building without a small theatre had been considered entirely inadequate to the needs of the community, but when figures showed that the building cost would have been increased at least one-third of the entire expense, it was cheerfully abandoned and a fine auditorium was substituted. The directors are assured that this beautiful hall will give pleasure to many and supply all needs for many years to come. How very easily, too, did the board discuss the occupancy of seventy-five fully equipped bed-rooms; and how, again, did they bow to the necessity of lessening the number, in order that they might remain within the budget required for the financing of the great project.

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004

Office window (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)
The building, dignified and harmonious in its architecture, that of the transition between the Romanesque and the Gothic Periods, pleasing and satisfying from the exterior, impells one to enter the structure. Here, indeed, is a picture of a dream fulfilled! Passing through the spacious entrance, the stately groined ceilings of the wide corridors, the noble staircases, the exquisite traceried windows lead one on to new wonders. But it will be impossible in this rough sketch to give in detail all the unusual beauties that are disclosed upon all sides. Shall we not go upon a short pilgrimage starting from the offices to the right of the entrance and view a few of the first floor features before ascending to the lounging and utility quarters of the members?  
Entrance lobby, looking east (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

Entrance lobby, looking west; drawing room is visible through open door. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

First-floor reception area, looking east; men’s lounge at end of passage
(Landmark Heritage Foundation/Berkeley City Club archives)

First-floor reception area, looking west; east court is visible through windows. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

First-floor reception area, looking east (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

Men’s lounge (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

To the extreme right will be seen the men’s lounge, so indispensable to the comfort of the husbands, sweethearts, and sons. Returning through the handsomely furnished lower reception hall we come to the main corridor, on the left side of which is the splendid room to be occupied by the Business and Professional Women who have waited long for the time when they can take possession of this meeting place.

Patio room, formerly Business & Professional Women’s club room, now used as an intimate theatre.
(photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

West court from Patio room (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

The charm of this room is further enhanced by the broad and generous French doors which open upon the gardened west court. On the right of the same corridor is the great east court which will be a source of delight to the eye and a comfort in fine weather to those who enjoy lounging out of doors.

First-floor corridor overlooking the east court
(Landmark Heritage Foundation/Berkeley City Club archives)

East court (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

From the time that thought was given to a city club for Berkeley the feature which seemed to be most dominant in the minds of all interested citizens was the swimming pool. “Is there to be a swimming pool?” “I understand that there is to be no swimming pool.” “Will the swimming pool be opened to the public?” “I should like ot join if there is to be a swimming pool,” and so on and on. Yes, indeed, there is a swimming pool, and one of the finest. Shall we take a peep at it? Continuing along the corridor, and crossing the dressing and shower quarters, we enter the swimming room which is indeed a triumph of the architect’s art.

Pool, facing south (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004

The massive arches, two of which serve as supports for the auditorium immediately above, the full length and beautifully designed windows on the east side, giving almost the feeling of out-doors; the gay and attractive tiling surrounding the base of the hall, as well as the correctly proportioned and tiled swimming pool, make us realize that both from the standpoint of beauty and of utility the swimming pool of the Berkeley Women’s City Club is second to none in this vicinity. Judging from its present popularity it will prove a source of great pleasure and benefit to the members and a fine investment for the builders.

Top: Exterior east wall of pool with garden terrace above and east court beyond. Left: Exterior north wall of pool and back stairs to ballroom.
(photos: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

The directors, ever mindful of the necessity of income producing quarters, have provided many attractive club rooms. As we are on our way again to further glimpses, let us pause for a moment at the extreme southwest corner of the building. Here we find one of the many rooms available for rental a large beautifully lighted and charmingly decorated hall with impressive windows to the south, and opening on the north to the same court which leads from the hall of the Business and Professional Women.

Drawing room, formerly the hall for outside clubs (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

View from drawing room to west court (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

Continue to Part Three
Return to Part One

The Berkeley City Club was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark on 15 December 1975. It is California Historic Landmark No. 908 and #77000282 on the National Register of Historic Places (added in 1977)



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