The Studio Building

2045 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA

Susan Cerny

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004

5 October 2002

The Studio Building, located at the corner of Shattuck Avenue and Addison Street, was built in 1905. It was the tallest building in downtown Berkeley until the Shattuck Hotel was completed in 1909. Both are five-stories tall, while the majority of downtown’s early 20th-Century masonry buildings have between three and four stories. In 1925, the 12-story Chamber of Commerce Building (now Wells Fargo Bank) was constructed; it was Berkeley’s only “skyscraper” until 1970, when the Great Western Building was completed. The Chamber of Commerce had its offices on the top floor of the building, a perfect place to tout the charms of Berkeley’s location directly opposite the Golden Gate.

The Studio Building in 1906. The SP station and its new park are in the foreground. The U.C. campus land behind is still unbuilt, and the street climbing diagonally uphill from Hearst Avenue is Le Conte Ave. The two white buildings in the triangle between Hearst & Le Conte are Phoebe Apperson Hearst’s residence and reception hall. (photo: BAHA archives)

The Studio Building in 1906 (photo: BAHA archives)

The Studio Building is one of the early group of masonry buildings constructed to replace downtown’s pioneer wood-frame commercial buildings. The structure is distinctive because it is the only one with a tile mansard roof and rounded window bays. The first-floor storefront bays were built as a series of alternating rounded and pointed arches, some of which have since been covered. Set into the tile floor at the entrance is a mosaic picture of a palette and paint brushes and the name The Studio Building.

Photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004

Photo: BAHA archives

The building was constructed by Frederick H. Dakin and built for his company, which handled investments in gold mines and real estate. His son, Clarence Casebolt Dakin, and his niece, Edna Deakin (one side of the family changed the spelling of the name), were practicing architects in Berkeley at the time of construction, but there is no record of who designed the building. Bricks used for the foundation were manufactured by Dakin in Stege, California.

The Studio Building in 1920 (photo courtesy of the Oakland Museum)

Mason-McDuffie office, 1920 (photo courtesy of the Oakland Museum)

The Mason-McDuffie Real Estate Company occupied the ground floor from 1905 until they built the building across the street in 1928. Many older pictures show the building with Mason-McDuffie signs on it.

The Studio Building in the 1930s. Mason-McDuffie had moved across the street. (photo courtesy of the Berkeley Historical Society)

“Strawberry Creek, Berkeley” by Edwin Deakin
  The studio part of the building was the fifth floor, which was designed as artists’ studios and included a gallery. In December 1906, the first art exhibit was held; it was sponsored by Frederick Dakin, Mrs. John Galen Howard, and Mrs. William Keith. Exhibitors were Frederick Dakin’s brother Edwin Deakin, William Keith, and Raymond Yelland. Building tenants included architect John Hudson Thomas and photographers Oscar Maurer and Edwin James McCullagh. After the 1906 earthquake and fire, Frederick H. Meyer moved his design studio from San Francisco to the Studio Building, where he founded the College of Arts and Crafts. Although the College moved after one year, the earliest instructors taught in this building and included Meyers, Perham W. Nahl, Isabelle Percy West, and Xavier Martinez.

For many years the building was a hotel; it was restored in the late 1970s.

The text of this article was originally published in the Berkeley Daily Planet.
Design and captions by Daniella Thompson.


The Studio Building (aka the Berkeley Hotel, built in 1905, architect unknown) was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark on 15 May 1978. It is #78000645 on National Register of Historic Places (added in 1978).



Copyright © 2004–2020 Daniella Thompson & BAHA. Text © 2002–2020 BAHA. All rights reserved.