Berkeley Landmarks :: Fox Court & Fox Common

  



Fox Court & Fox Common

1472–78 and 1670–76 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA

Susan Cerny


Fox Court (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

12 January 2002

There are two complexes of romantic storybook cottages on University Avenue designed by Carl Fox and constructed by the Fox Bros. Construction Company. The cottage pictured below is located at 1672 University Ave.; it’s the one visible from the street.


Fox Common, north fašade (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)
 
Fox Common, west fašade (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

This cottage was built in 1940, and the cottage in the rear was built in 1931. This complex is known as Fox Common and is a green oasis of rustic, brick-sided cottages nestled in a tree-shaded garden, wedged between two 2-story stucco-sided commercial buildings on busy University Avenue.

As late as 1941, University Avenue was not fully developed. There were almost equal numbers of homes, automobile-related business such as garages, gas stations, repair shops, and dealerships, and other commercial buildings, as there were vacant lots. This uneven development remains evident today.

Fox Court (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

The second complex is known as Fox Court and is located at 1472–78 University Ave. and was constructed between 1927 and 1930. Both complexes are City of Berkeley Landmarks, and Fox Court is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Fox Court and Fox Common are Romantic Tudor Revival in style, picturesque and rustic in appearance. Their exterior siding consists of various colors, textures and sizes of brick irregularly laid and interspersed with rough stones. The style is referred to by many names: Mother Goose, Hansel and Gretel, Fairy Tale, Doll House or Storybook, but it’s no more than a variation on the Tudor Revival style popular in the 1920s and ’30s.

The Fox Brothers Construction Company was established in 1924 and continued to build homes and commercial buildings until around 1953. Carl H. Fox, the principal of the firm, was raised in Grass Valley and received a degree in Mining Engineering from U.C. Berkeley in 1911. Before establishing the Fox Brothers company, he spent time working as a mining engineer and a salesman in Asia. Carl died in 1966.

A profile of Carl H. Fox in The Courier, published on 11 Sept. 1926, describes him as the “senior member of the firm Fox Bros. [...] many homes have been made most enjoyable and delightful through his ability as designer and constructor. [...] His latest effort is to aid in the development of University Avenue into a business street.” Although located at various addresses, the Fox Bros. offices were always on University Avenue.


Berteaux Cottage on Channing St. (photo: BAHA)
 
Berteaux Cottage on Bowditch St. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

The Fox brothers left a legacy of romantic cottages scattered around the city. The Berteaux Cottage (better known as Fox Cottage)—owned by the University and moved in 2001 from 2612 Channing Way to 2350 Bowditch Street around the corner—and the G. Paul Bishop Studio at 2125 Durant Ave. are also City of Berkeley Landmarks.

This article was originally published in the Berkeley Daily Planet.


G. Paul Bishop Portraiture Studio
(photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

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Fox Court was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark on 20 November 1978. It is #82002159 on the National Register of Historic Places (added in 1982). Fox Common was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark on 7 December 1998. The Rose & William Berteaux Cottage (aka Fox Cottage, 1930) was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark on 7 June 1999. It is listed in the California State Historic Resources Inventory. The G. Paul Bishop Studio (1939) was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark on 21 July 1986.

 

  

Copyright © 2004–2014 Daniella Thompson. Text © 2002–2014 Susan Cerny. All rights reserved.