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Residences, businesses existing together in west Berkeley

By Susan Cerny
Sunday March 25, 2001

By Susan Cerny 


Until the 1920s there was no zoning; people lived very near their work, sometimes in the same building or on the same property. The legacy of this, are the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century homes, some large and others small, interspersed among warehouses and factories in west Berkeley. 

The photograph above is of the Edward Niehaus House located at 839 Channing Way. It was built in the 1880s within sight of Niehaus’ West Berkeley Planning Mill, which produced the kind of woodwork displayed on his house. It is west Berkeley's largest and most elaborate surviving Victorian.  

The house is especially distinctive because of its unique three-story tower with elaborate dormers on all four sides. The house is also richly decorated with a wide range of decorative patterns including paneled friezes, pendented brackets, fish-scale shingle patterns, latticework arches and porch railings. 

There are particularly fine sunflower relief panels on the second floor of the gable ends.  

Susan Cerny writes ‘Berkeley Observed’ for the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association