27 November 2004

Cloyne Court at 100

Interior courtyard, looking east. Newman Hall is visible behind.
(photo: Picturing Berkeley)

The Cloyne Court Hotel, designed by John Galen Howard for the University Land and Improvement Company, opened its doors in December 1904 at 2600 Ridge Road, on the corner of Le Roy Avenue.

The investors included Phoebe Apperson Hearst, Jane K. Sather, James K. Moffitt, John Galen Howard, James M. Pierce, et al. The hotel was named after the philosopher George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, and was built at the substantial cost of $80,000.

A 1904 sales leaflet for the University Land and Improvement Co. described Cloyne Court as “a high class modern apartment house in Berkeley, California.”

Tim Banuelos and Linda Robinson, architectural researchers of the Cloyne Court Hotel, record that Howard designed Cloyne Court with 32 suites made up of one to five rooms. An unusual design feature for that time were the separate stairways leading to each two suites, with no long hallways on the second and third floors. The building also boasted a unique fireproof system, whereby different sections of the house were separated by brick firewalls and automatic sliding fire-proof doors.

Many notable guests stayed at Cloyne Court or lived there full-time. And no wonder. Entries in the guest book explain the hotel’s attractions:

  • “Cloyne Court...where beauty and hospitality are mated”
    Francis G. Allison, 1917

  • “Giving people a happy home is a divine service.”
    Benjamin Ide Wheeler, 1923

  • “Cloyne Court fills one of the more important needs of modern man—peace.”
    Alessus Camel, 1936

  • “Cloyne Court—Silence and peace in an insane world.”
    Ernest Block, 1944

As one of the University Students Cooperative Association’s larger and noisier residential co-ops, Cloyne Court has long since ceased to be a haven of silence and peace. Far more accurate would be the moniker “insane world.”

Cloyne Court was designated a City of Berkeley in November 1982. It is #92001718 in the National Register of Historic Places (added in 1992).

See a list of John Galen Howard projects, downloadable as an Excel spreadsheet.


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