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Cloyne Court Hotel was host to many illustrious university visitors

By Susan Cerny, Special to the Daily Planet
Saturday March 23, 2002

The University of California was established in 1868, and classes were initially held in Oakland. When the Berkeley campus opened in 1873 there were only 10 professors or instructors and less than 200 students. By 1900 the university had grown to 4,000 students, one of the largest in the country, and attracted visitors from around the world. 

One of these visitors was an Austrian physicist named Ludwig Boltzman, known for his contributions to statistical mechanics and early atomic description of matter. After his visit to Berkeley in 1904, he wrote a description of his journey from Vienna to Berkeley and his impressions along the way. The English translation of Boltzman’s essay is by Walter Kutschera of Argone National Laboratory.  

Botlzman described the university as “the most beautiful place one can imagine. A park one square kilometer, with trees which have seen centuries [and] there are beautiful and up-to-date furnished buildings. ...” 

During his visit to Berkeley Botlzman stayed at the Cloyne Court Hotel, which he described as “comfortable inside” and the “food was good.” He had a “small bedroom, a somewhat larger working room and a bathroom, all electrically illuminated.”  

According to a hotel brochure it “... was designed for people who wish to live in Berkeley and also wish to avoid the annoyance and cost of housekeeping ... it will give the comfort and privacy of a home with the freedom from care.” 

Cloyne Court had its own chef, and recitals and lectures were given in a large music room. 

Cloyne Court, named after the home of Bishop Berkeley of Cloyne, Ireland, was built in 1904 and designed by John Galen Howard. It is a three-story, U-shaped building entirely clad in unpainted brown shingles. The courtyard created by its U-shape provides for a generous south-facing garden where balconies and large casement windows, overlooking the garden, allow ample sunlight into the rooms.  

It was built by a group of investors who included Phoebe Apperson Hearst and Jane K. Sather. James M. Pierce and his family managed the hotel from its opening in 1904 until it closed in 1946.  

During its tenure as a hotel it was host to many well-known people such as Susan Anthony, Charles Bancroft, British ambassador James and Lady Bryce, French ambassador M. Jusserand, and Nobel Prize winner Wolfgang Pauli. 



Susan Cerny is author of Berkeley Landmarks and writes this in conjunction with the Berkeley Architectural heritage Association.