Announcing our 44th Annual House Tour
and Garden Reception

Sunday, 5 May 2019, One to Five o’clock

Photo: Anthony Bruce

Featuring gracious houses designed by
Ernest Coxhead, Walter Ratcliff, William Schirmer,
John Bakewell, Jr., Morrow & Garren, Roland Stringham,
Claude Barton, and Roger Lee.

Tour map, illustrated guidebook & refreshments provided
General $50; BAHA members $40

(see member discount limits)

Purchase tickets through Eventbrite
or use the ticket order form to order by mail.

Tour-day ticket booth will open at 12:30 pm in front of St. Clement’s Episcopal Church, 2845 Claremont Blvd.


The Claremont Hotel amid the Garber and Palache fruit orchards

Set at the wooded base of one of the Berkeley Hills, and within the protective grasp of the hill’s natural curve, an enchanted enclave awaits. Grand and gracious residences stand on secluded, tree-lined streets and along a sun-drenched boulevard majestically facing the passing world. Tanglewood Road and Belrose Avenue are the centerpieces of this quiet corner of Berkeley’s Claremont Court, a piece of land that had been set aside when the larger, original subdivision was created in 1907.

The Garber & Palache residences, c. 1907

Belle-Rose, Judge John Garber’s residence, in 1894

Edgefield, home of Belle Garber and Whitney Palache

Photo: Daniella Thompson

Claremont Court had been the site of two small ranches belonging to the Garber and Palache families. After the patriarch of the Palache family died, and after the 1906 devastation of San Francisco created a strong desire for residential neighborhoods in the East Bay, the two families joined forces and, with the expertise of the Mason-McDuffie Company, subdivided the land as Claremont Court, with a tract map filed at the county courthouse in March 1907. The two families, whose homes were at the eastern edge of the tract, kept for themselves a large unsubdivided section of the original property. Here stood the original Garber and Palache homes, “Belle-Rose” (1879) and “Fairview” (also 1870s). Near to them were “Edgefield,” the home of Belle Garber and Whitney Palache (whose marriage cemented the already strong ties of friendship between the two families), and “Tanglewood” (1905), the home of another Garber daughter, Juliet, and her husband, Frank Stringham, a future mayor of Berkeley.

Photos: Daniella Thompson

Eventually, this private section, too, was ready for its transformation into a residential neighborhood. In January 1916, the Civic Art Commission, with Duncan McDuffie as president, recommended the acceptance of the land that would be Tanglewood Road, and in April 1916, a tract map—with the prosaic name “Map of Tanglewood Road Opening”—was filed at the county, creating a new subdivision from the remaining land of the pioneer families. Perhaps the death of Judge John Garber’s widow, Juliet White Garber, in late 1915 was the impetus for the families to sell their properties.

Juliet Garber Stringham insisted this time on the right to name the new street, as the Garbers had not been happy with the real estate company’s corruption of “Belle-Rose” (named for a Garber daughter and the wild roses that grew on the property) into “Belrose” in 1907. Juliet chose “Tanglewood,” the name taken from the title of a favorite book from her childhood, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Tanglewood Tales.

The Weber House (Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr.) in 1919

Photo: Daniella Thompson

Photo: Daniella Thompson

Curving Tanglewood Road followed the contours of the Garbers’ driveway that had led off Claremont Avenue (Fish Ranch Road). Spacious building sites were offered on both sides of Tanglewood, along a newly created block of Garber Street, and facing the eastern side of Belrose Avenue. The tract was surveyed by former Town Engineer, Charles L. Huggins, who, since at least 1905, had worked for the Mason-McDuffie Company on their residential developments.

Berkeleyans had long been enticed by the beautifully landscaped estates, and some had even dreamed of the sylvan retreat as a homesite. The advertisement that the Mason-McDuffie Company placed in the Berkeley Daily Gazette on 28 June 1916 would have had great appeal. It read:

Everyone familiar with the beauty spots of Berkeley will call to mind the wonderful charms of the old Garber and Palache homestead sites with their beautiful old oaks and maples and pines merging into densely wooded hills at the back.

How many have tried in vain to secure a portion of this valuable property for a home site!

We are able to announce that this beautiful slope from Claremont Court to the base of the forest-covered hills has been SUBDIVIDED INTO SPACIOUS VILLA SITES which will soon be occupied by the most attractive homes in Berkeley. In doing this, care has been taken to preserve the stately trees and all other attractive features of the grounds.

Outside of its natural beauty and freedom from winds and fogs, this location, being near the Claremont Hotel, affords convenient Key Route and local car service.

The prices at which we are able to offer choice lots in this exclusive tract will appeal to any prospective purchaser.

Belrose Avenue in the 1950s

The real estate firm produced a map of the new tract for marketing purposes, giving it the more appealing name “Garber and Palache Properties.” Included was Block H of the original Claremont Court tract, bounded by the south side of Garber, Claremont Avenue on the east, Claremont Boulevard on the west, and Avalon Avenue on the south. Much of Block H had been reserved by the Palache family, and their house and gardens were here. One lot had been sold and a house built in 1910 (2815 Claremont Blvd.), but the lot lines of the rest of the block were redrawn in 1916 to create “villa sites.”

The first thing that happened after the tract opened was the sale in 1917 of the Palache house itself to the owners of one of the new lots, but no new houses were built here until 1919 (most likely due to the upheaval of the First World War). The two houses with the honor of being first, are 2739 Belrose Avenue and 2801 Claremont Boulevard. The last villa lot was built upon in 1927. All of the houses were designed sumptuously, befitting the established character of Claremont Court as Berkeley’s own version of Pacific Heights.

Photo: Daniella Thompson

The next chapter in the development of this residential enclave came in 1958. The Garber family home, a fanciful, turreted Victorian country residence from 1879, still overlooked the surrounding property from its upland setting amid its landscaped park. After the death of the last Garber daughter, Lida, that year, the house was demolished. New homesites were created in its place, and the following year, three Mid-Century Modern houses were built. Surprisingly, these newer houses changed the street’s ambience only slightly, since they are as sumptuous as their neighbors, and their lines are softened by lush gardens.

The homes of the two other Garber daughters still stand, and the old Palache place, remodeled and enlarged time and again, was transformed into an English manor house in 1921 by architect Walter Ratcliff and stands at 2811 Claremont Boulevard.

Photo: Daniella Thompson

Several elegant residences will be open on the afternoon of Sunday, 5 May 2019. Tour goers will visit houses designed by such architects as Ernest Coxhead; Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr.; William E. Schirmer, Roland I. Stringham; Irving F. Morrow & William I. Garren; John Bakewell, Jr.; Claude B. Barton; and Roger Lee. The sanctuary of St. Clement’s Episcopal Church, designed in redwood by Willis Polk in 1908, will also be open during the tour. The land upon which the church stands was donated by the Palache family.

Photo: Daniella Thompson

Photo: Daniella Thompson

Purchase tour tickets online

Or use the ticket order form to order by mail.

Tour docents receive complimentary admission to the tour.
To volunteer, contact BAHA by e-mail (preferred)

or by phone: (510) 841-2242.

Copyright © 2019 BAHA. All rights reserved.