Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Berkeley Grab Bag

There's a bunch of minor sites in Berkeley proper that are hard to devote a whole post to. Here are a few of them...

Berkeley Post Office
This is a neat old post office!  It's located right in the middle of downtown Berkeley.  I wasn't able to get too close to it because of a bunch of road construction, but it's worth a quick spin by the front of the building.  The post office was built in 1914 and still looks great.  The building is located at 2000 Allston Way.

Berkeley Municipal Incinerator
The city of Berkeley had its own incinerator for a long time, and the building that contained it still stands on the Berkeley/El Cerrito border.  Prior to the creation of a municipal incinerator, the cities of the East Bay simply put their trash on boats, sailed out into the ocean, and then dumped everything overboard.  The creation of an incinerator was considered the best "modern" way to get rid of trash and the city began the practice of partially burning its garbage and then dumping it into the marsh next to the incinerator.  As the land filled in it became an airstrip for a brief time, and then the current highway was built across it.  The incinerator was closed in 1930 and the building is now owned by a self-storage company.  The building became a Berkeley historical landmark in 1985.

Howard Automobile Co. 
This beautiful Art-Deco car showroom was built in 1930.  The original owner, Charles Howard, made a part of his fortune by owning and operating a bicycle repair shop that also serviced cars.  By 1905 Howard had the Buick franchise for the Bay Area, and built this dealership to showcase his cars.  Howard was also known as the owner of the championship horse Seabiscuit.  The building became associated with another sporting legend when Reggie Jackson opened a Chevy dealership in the building in the 1980s.  The building currently houses a Buddhist book store.  The architecture on this building is great, and really captures the feel of the first couple of generations of car culture, where owning a car was still something glamorous and exciting, as opposed to the necessity or burden that it is today. The building is located at 2140 Durant Ave., directly across the street from the G. Paul Bishop Studio.

Park Congregational Church
Park Congregational Church, now South Berkeley Community Church, is an Arts and Crafts style building that was erected in 1912.  This church was built during a period of great ecclesiastical architecture in the East Bay.  There were a number of churches that went up in this period and many of them are considered historical landmarks of architectural importance.  This building is noteworthy because of the way that the architect, Hugo Storch, inserted it into the surrounding neighborhood without overwhelming it.  The church also has a sanctuary that is finished entirely in raw California redwood and is quite beautiful.  The church is located at 1802 Fairview St. at Ellis in Berkeley.

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