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West Berkeley’s has hidden surprises

By Susan Cerny
Saturday May 19, 2001

West Berkeley’s past is evident today through its diverse building stock. It presents a heterogeneous mix of old and new buildings, residential and industrial buildings often side by side.  

A lone Victorian house or a windmill behind an old grocery store evoke curiosity as might an anonymous concrete tilt-up building with no signage.  

There remains some industrial activity in west Berkeley, but the area is evolving.  

Because west Berkeley has not experienced massive redevelopment there is a visually interesting mix of building types and uses.  

Fragments of the past have been retained through the reuse of older buildings.  

The Heywood-Ghego House is the last pioneer building on this block of Fourth Street.  

The house was built for William B. Heywood, the son of pioneer Zimri Brewer Heywood.  

The Ghego family purchased the house in 1925 from descendants of the Heywood family and members of the Ghego family were still living in the house when the Redevelopment Agency purchased it in 1978.  

The house is a raised-basement Victorian with a symmetrical design that features tall paired sash windows topped with ornate bracketing.  

The hipped roof is flat in the center and, rather than coming together at right angles, the corners of the eaves were cut at a diagonal, which is an unusual feature. 

In 1992 the Redevelopment Agency sold the house to Abrams and Millikan, developers of the popular Fourth Street retail district, and it is now a unique feature of the Fourth Street commercial district.  


Susan Cerny writes Berkeley Observed in conjunction with the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association