Before People’s Park

Part 2. Bowditch Street

Daniella Thompson

18 April 2019

While the first houses on the 2500 block of Dwight Way were constructed in the latter half of the 1870s, the intersecting Bowditch Street south of Haste remained undeveloped into the first decade of the 20th century. The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire, coupled with the opening of Haste Street between Telegraph Avenue and Bowditch Street, hastened the development of Block 1875.

A sharp-eyed developer who took advantage of the Haste Street opening was John Albert Marshall. A prominent Berkeley contractor and developer, Marshall erected at least six buildings along the 2500 block of Haste and the 2400 block of Bowditch. Most were designed by the architect C.M. Cook.

Marshall erected the handsome half-timbered house shown below as a speculative investment. Located at 2426 Bowditch Street, on the corner of the newly cut Haste Street, the house featured no fewer than four steep gables. It was the home of civil engineer George A. Starkweather and his family during the 1910s.

The spacious residence, which contained 11 rooms plus three in the basement, was turned into a boarding house called The Concord. A 1949 real-estate listing included this information: “Beautiful dining room accommodates 40 at a time. Many outside boarded are taken in. $10/week rate for 6 days.”

The Regents of the University of California acquired the Concord in July 1968 and subsequently demolished it.


2426 Bowditch Street (Marshall photo collection, BAHA archives)

Sporting an abundance of fluted pilasters with Ionic capitals, this large and ornate Colonial Revival house was another speculative investment by builder/developer John Albert Marshall. It stood at 2430 Bowditch Street, next door to the magnificent Tudor Revival house on the Haste Street corner that is seen in the photo above and glimpsed on the extreme right in the photo below. The two houses, as well as a third one seen on the extreme left below, were built at the same time on a single large parcel.

In the late 1910s, this was the home of Joseph Gunn, president of the West Berkeley Bank. Less than a decade later, the 11-bedroom house was turned into a boarding house, like its immediate neighbors to the north and south.

The Regents of the University of California acquired the parcel in August 1963, and the house was subsequently demolished.


2430 Bowditch Street, c. 1939 (Ormsby Donogh files, BAHA archives)

The third speculative house in a row built by John Albert Marshall on a single lot was this elegant Colonial Revival residence at 2434 Bowditch Street.

Like its two adjacent companions to the north, this house was converted into a rooming/boarding house before 1950.

The Regents of the University of California acquired the house in June 1967 and subsequently demolished it.


2434 Bowditch Street, c. 1939 (Ormsby Donogh files,
BAHA archives)


Sanborn map, 1929


2438 Bowditch Street (Ormsby Donogh files, BAHA archives)


2438 Bowditch Street (Ormsby Donogh files, BAHA archives)

Built in the Arts & Crafts style, this house that stood at 2438 Bowditch Street. The house was built c. 1906 for Charles A. Marriner, a mining executive, and his family. They were followed in the 1910s by John H. Rinder, a former sea captain who had become a ship broker. The 1929 Sanborn map shows the enlarged building as a fraternity house, and by 1950, it had become a rooming house. In 1954, it was offered for sale as seven apartments.

The Regents of the University of California acquired the building in July 1968 and tore it down.

At the left edge of the right-hand photo above, one can barely glimpse a corner of the two-story duplex that stood at 2442–2444 Bowditch Street. About this building we know very little. When it was new, the upper unit, 2444 Bowditch Street, was the home of the Yolo County rancher and later building contractor Irvin P. Diggs and his wife, Nora. They were the parents of architect Maury I. Diggs, who listed this as his address in several 1915 contract notices. This Maury Diggs was notoriously famous for having eloped with a minor, an offence that earned him a prison sentence and a fine for white slavery. Apparently, that wasn’t his only transgression.


San Francisco Call, 27 June 1913

Unfortunately, no photo has been found of this duplex. The Regents of the University of California acquired the building in December 1967 and tore it down.

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—> Part 3

Before People’s Park

Essays & Stories

Copyright © 2019 Daniella Thompson & BAHA. All rights reserved.