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South Berkeley Community Church

BAHA - The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association - has, on their website, a number of good articles on important structures in the east bay. Bradley Wiedmaier has written a short essay on the South Berkeley Community Church, an especially interesting property on Berkeley's Fairview Street, near the Oakland border. The content of the BAHA site is not released under any kind of creative commons or other license and copyright belongs solely to them; a short excerpt follows, but to read the full article you must visit their site.

South Berkeley Community Church is one of the truly great monuments of the Arts and Crafts, Mission Revival, and San Francisco Bay Area styles. Boldly scaled and sumptuous in the sequence of its interior spaces, the building is also modest in size, fitting in a neighborly fashion into its residential setting. The monumentally scaled corner entrance tower is actually shorter than many nearby residential structures. The architect, Hugo W. Storch, assembled a series of components that transition through an amazing range of variation, both on the exterior and in the interior. In this building Storch recalled the structural variety, play of scale, and component collage previously used by Ernest Coxhead in St. John the Evangelist Church of San Francisco, which burned in 1906. The monumental scale coupled with the diminutive reality of the arches, the details, and the sequence of varied components used by Storch are an inheritance from Coxhead’s Bay Area Style sensibilities.

Storch reworked the Mission Revival style by mixing it with the freedom of the Arts and Crafts style. His South Berkeley Community Church went up at the same time that Julia Morgan was working on St. John’s Presbyterian Church, James W. Plachek was planning the North Berkeley Congregational Church, and Bernard Maybeck was building the First Church of Christ, Scientist—all City of Berkeley Landmarks. Joeseph Worcester’s Swedenborgian Church in San Francisco and A.C. Schweinfurth’s First Unitarian Church in Berkeley, both built in the 1890s, influenced the four later church designs.

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