19th-Century Home, Marin Circle Fountain on LPC Agenda

By Riya Bhattacharjee
Tuesday July 31, 2007

On Thursday the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) will discuss the landmarking of a 19th-century dwelling at 3100 Shattuck Ave., which is proposed to be demolished for the construction of a new three-story mixed-use building . 

The meeting will take place at the North Berkeley Senior Center, 1901 Hearst Ave., at 7:30 p.m. 

According to a report from the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association (BAHA), the site is located in the vicinity of an area known as “Ashby Station” which “could be potentially eligible for a historic district nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.” 

An example of a 20th-century American streetcar suburb, Ashby Station is now a transportation hub, serving the greater bay region with the BART Richmond Line and AC Transit. 

The BAHA report states that although several blocks of the historic Ashby Station district were removed in the 1960s due to the construction of BART, “a distinct historic context is still visible today within the ‘Area of Potential Effect’ surrounding the Ed Roberts Campus project site.” 

Although the original construction date, owner, architect and builder of the building remain unknown, the building’s construction date canbe estimated at 1904 or 1906 from city and county records. 

According to Berkeley planning department staff reports, the building possesses no special cultural, educational or cultural value and is not an example of exceptional Victorian architecture. The staff report concludes that the building is not eligible for landmark status and that the proposed demolition would not “cause a substantial adverse change in the significance of any historical resources in the vicinity.” 

In a letter to the LPC, Berkeley resident Robert Lauriston contends that the staff report misinterprets BAHA’s survey map of the neigborhood, which graphically displays the evolution of the streetcar suburb from “its beginnings in the 19th century, through the peak period 1900-1910, and up to the decline of the streetcars in the mid-20th century.” 

According to Lauriston, the map includes 3100 Shattuck in the list of contributing structures in the National Register of Historic Places Form, which neighbors plan to submit to the California Office of Historic Preservation next year. 

“The neighborhood’s remaining 19th-century structures are important both because they show its development from a small cluster of houses centered around the post office at Shattuck and Ashby into the later densely populated streetcar suburb, and because they were residences of landowners, builders, and others involved in the subdivision, annexation, and development of the neighborhood,” he states, and adds that the demolition of 3100 Shattuck would bring about an adverse change in the significance of a historic resource. 


Marin Circle Fountain Walk 

The LPC will also discuss the possible repair of the locally landmarked Marin Circle Fountain Walk which was damaged when a truck crashed into the area surrounding the fountain in May, damaging both public and private property. 

Built in 1908, when Berkeley lobbied to be the State Capital, the Marin Circle Area was planned and built as the entrance to the proposed Capital building. 

With its surrounding balustrades, piers and 22 terra cotta pots, the Fountain Walk is one of Berkeley’s pedestrian avenues. 

The restoration calls for the repair of the balustrades, piers, the handrail and terra cotta pots. The city is in charge of the repair process, which includes assessing the damage, recovering money from the trucking company and selecting staff and contractors to guide and carry out the restoration project.