15 February 2005

High-Peaked Colonial Revival

2014 Woolsey St.
(photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

What does one call those strange steep-roofed houses that dot South and West Berkeley? This intriguing style, at various times named High-Peaked Roof Dutch Colonial, Eastern Shingle Cottage, or simply “Steep Roof,” deserves further investigation.

Berkeley boasts some fine examples of the genre, and many more that have been adulterated to various degrees at various times. Sadly, even recent restorations, while often careful in every other respect, usually compromise when it comes to windows and doors. Inappropriate aluminum windows with fake muntins are the order of the day.

For the past month or so I’ve been roving through Berkeley’s streets and photographing the high peaks. The first six pages of a photo essay on these houses are published in our Essays & Stories section.

03 February 2005

The changing face of
a South Berkeley block

1920s bungalows on Oregon St. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

Block H in the Blake Tract, just east of the Berkeley Bowl, retains most of its original houses. But these buildings were not all erected at the same time. The first homes were built in the early 1890s, soon after the Shattuck-Blake family offered them at auction.

Among the early houses was the first Berkeley home of Joseph and Mary Tape at 2123 Russell Street. The Tapes would build two additional homes next door in the first decade of the 20th century, and two of their daughters would settle on the same block in homes of their own.

On the northern end of Block H, a long stretch along Oregon Street remained unbuilt until the 1920s. When homes finally went up there, they were not the one-of-a-kind houses of the previous decades but cookie-cutter bungalows possibly put up by one builder.

The story of Block H is told in The changing face of a South Berkeley block.