Berkeley Landmarks :: J. Gorman & Son Building


J. Gorman & Son Building

2599 Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley, CA

Daniella Thompson

The restored Gorman Building (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2006)

26 August 2006

The Gorman Building has been a prominent feature on Telegraph Avenue for over a century, housing Berkeley’s oldest continuing business, run by four generations of Gormans until 1997. The building was constructed in 1877, with a wing added in 1906.

The building was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark on 4 December 2000, when the Gormans announced that they were moving their business to Oakland. After sitting empty for several years, the building was acquired and beautifully restored to its original appearance.

The empty Gorman Building before restoration (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

Like many historic structures, the building underwent undesirable “renovations” in the mid-20th century. At that time, the witch’s cap on the corner turret was removed, as was the false-front parapet on top of the Telegraph Avenue fašade. On the second- and third-floor fašades, more than twenty windows were boarded up, including all eight windows in the corner turret. The storefront windows, originally wood-framed and graced with small-paned clerestories, gave way to plain aluminum-framed windows. The clapboard on the exterior walls was covered over with asbestos siding.

Photos: BAHA archives

Old photos reveal that before the mid-century “modernization,” the building had two distinct parts. Following restoration, the two parts are distinguishable again through the use of different widths of clapboard siding. The witch’s cap and the false-front parapet were recreated to match the originals. The storefront windows are once again framed in wood, with attractive small-paned clerestories. Best of all, 22 new windows on the second and third floors replace those that had been removed in the process of “modernization.”

The Gorman Building is a prime example of adaptive reuse. Its turreted fašade, which for so many years presented a semi-blind aspect to the street, is now the pride of the Telegraph-Parker intersection.

In 2006, BAHA awarded the owner of the Gorman Building a Preservation Award.



Copyright © 2006–2019 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.