Historic Buildings in Ashby Station

Around the Ed Roberts Campus, Part 2

Daniella Thompson

Former Hull Undertaking Co. funeral home (l) and St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox
church (r) at Adeline and Essex Streets (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

14 January 2005 & 27 June 2016

The Hull Undertaking Company’s funeral home (Hutchison & Mills, 1923) with its Little Chapel of the Flowers (Francis Harvey Slocombe, 1928) at 3049–3051 Adeline Street is one of Berkeley’s most remarkable examples of Storybook-style architecture. Berkeley boasts no fewer than six designated landmarks in this style: Fox Court, Tupper & Reed Building (both listed in the National Register of Historic Places), Normandy Village, Fox Common, Berteaux Cottage (aka Fox Cottage), and G. Paul Bishop Studio—all built in the 1920s and ’30s. While not yet designated, the Hull Undertaking Co. complex is listed in the California State Historic Resources Inventory and appears to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places (read about the history of the Hull Undertaking Company).

Little Chapel of the Flowers (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

In addition to serving as a mortuary chapel, the Little Chapel of the Flowers was a popular wedding chapel during the 1940s and ’50s. More than 500 weddings were celebrated there. The Hull Undertaking complex is featured in the book Storybook Style: America’s Whimsical Homes of the Twenties. The Hull mortuary moved to Walnut Creek in 1954. In the 1960s, the Berkeley buildings were acquired and operated by another mortuary. Later they were converted to offices and shops. The Little Chapel of the Flowers (now at 3049 Adeline St.) was the home of Marmot Mountain Works from 1976 until 2012. The interior iretains many o fits original features. There are curved plaster walls in a terra cotta hue, vaulted ceilings, lovely stained-glass windows, and two airy side-galleries lit by skylights. The former mortuary building at 3051 Adeline was occupied by the Fifth String music store from 1977 until 2013. The Hull Undertaking complex was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark in September 2015.

The chapel depicted on a 1943 postcard

Chapel interior on a period postcard

Mock stained-glass windows on Hull Undertaking south fašade
(photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

The roof evokes old-fashioned European thatch (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

The little blue-domed church across Essex Street from Hull Undertaking was originally the Swedenborgian Church of the New Jerusalem, designed by Mark Manning in 1936. In 1950, the building was acquired by the local Russian Orthodox congregation and became St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Church. One would assume that the onion dome was added following the conversion. The Russian Orthodox parish in Berkeley first held services in 1920 and was registered in 1936.

Belying the church’s unassuming exterior, the interior holds surprises. The wood-paneled walls and beamed ceiling direct the visitor’s eye toward the opulently gilt altarpiece, which occupies the entire far wall. This marvel can be seen on Sundays and holidays.

St. John the Baptist Russian Orthodox Church (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

Continue to:
Historic Buildings, Part 3

Historic Buildings in Ashby Station

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