The Berkeley Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Mobilized Women of Berkeley building at 1007 University Avenue as a city landmark last month.
Built in 1949 by P. L. Coates, the building features architecture influenced by the design Bernard Maybeck did for the Mobilized Women of Berkeley’s 1938 building at 1001 University.
Originally used as a community center and thrift shop, the building has been occupied by the East Bay Association of Mentally Retarded (later known as the Association for Retarded Citizens) and Amsterdam Art.
A letter from Berkeley Architectural Heritage President Daniella Thompson praises the building for its “exceptional historic, cultural and educational value.” The building, Thompson says, is living proof of the role women played in providing services to needy citizens often overlooked by public agencies.
“It is the last remaining physical and tangible evidence of the charitable organization,” which was founded at the beginning of World War I by more than 150 women’s clubs and organizations, Thompson said.
The center also served the community during the Great Depression and World War II.
In her landmark application to the commission, architectural historian Susan Cerny points out that the building’s architecturally distinctive features are its grid-form panels and unique U-shaped design, which uses the cast-in-place wall form embedded with translucent glass blocks.
Cerny told the commission that the hollow glass blocks were first developed in 1933 by Owens-Illinois Glass and exhibited at the Chicago World’s Fair.