Landmark Move May Not Fit

Friday June 25, 2004

Berkeley real estate agent and developer John Gordon is floating before the Zoning Adjustments Board the notion of relocating two landmarked buildings onto a lot he owns. Whether the two buildings will actually fit on the small lot remains an open question. 

Gordon proposed moving both the Ellen Blood House, an 1891 Queen Anne Victorian now at 2526 Durant Ave., and the 1876 John Woolley House, now at 2509 Haste Street, to his lot at the southwest corner of Regent Street and Dwight Way. 

To assist him with the project, Gordon retained Burton Edwards, an architect who until recently served on the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. 

When a Daily Planet reporter measured the houses and Gordon’s lot, a question surfaced: Would both structures fit on a lot that seemed to be comfortably suited only for one structure? 

“We haven’t figured it out yet,” Edwards said Wednesday. “We’re just beginning to look into it. Theoretically, it might be a good idea, but what I’m doing right now amounts to a feasibility study. 

“I can’t say yet what actually fits. I don’t have any preconceived idea, but it’s worth looking at.” 

One question Edwards is considering is what part of each structure is original and what was added later. Old photos show the Blood House was extended along part of the front, though not as far as the porch—which may or may not be original. 

Moving the Blood House is an alternative to what developers Ruegg & Ellsworth originally sought, which was permission to demolish the 113-year-old dwelling to make room for a five-story, 44-unit apartment building. 

UC Berkeley owns the Woolley House, which has already been moved once. The university apparently decided to do nothing to preserve the historic structure, which hasn’t been painted in years and has rotted eaves. 

“There’s nothing that can’t be restored” at the Woolley House, Edwards said. “There’s nothing unexpected.” 

One big question remains: What fate awaits the historic structures if only one can fit on the lot?