Berkeley Landmarks :: Cloyne Court

Cloyne Court Hotel

2600 Ridge Road, Berkeley, CA

Daniella Thompson

Cloyne Court Hotel (John Galen Howard, 1904) shortly after completion, looking northeast from Le Roy Avenue. Also visible are Allanoke (left), Beta Theta Pi chapter house (right), and a cluster of five steep-roofed Maybeck houses on Ridge Rd. and Highland Place, including Charles Keeler’s house & studio just above the eastern Cloyne wing. (photo: Louis L. Stein Jr. collection)

Tim Banuelos and Linda Robinson, architectural researchers of the Cloyne Court Hotel, recorded that it was a development of the University Land and Improvement Company. Investors in the company included Phoebe Apperson Hearst, Jane K. Sather, James K. Moffitt, John Galen Howard, James M. Pierce, et al. The hotel was named after the philosopher George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, and was built at the substantial cost of $80,000.

John Galen Howard designed Cloyne Court with 32 suites made up of one to five rooms. An unusual design feature for that time were the separate stairways leading to each two suites, with no long hallways on the second and third floors. The building also boasted a unique fireproof system, whereby different sections of the house were separated by brick firewalls and automatic sliding fire-proof doors.

The building looked out onto a protected courtyard, which was described in 1946 as having “Lambay poplars, Italian cypress, weeping willows, apple trees, flowering peach, two avocado trees, silver birch, palms, Scotch heather, the velvety green lawn and neatly arranged plots of gorgeous and fragrant flowers.” Fourteen balconies overlooked this courtyard and San Francisco Bay (although the Bay view today is obstructed by Etcheverry and Soda Halls).

Interior courtyard, looking west (photo: Picturing Berkeley) � �

The hotel was completed in December 1904 and used for housing university faculty, visiting professors, and people waiting for their Northside homes to be completed. James and Margaret (Maggie) Pierce ran the hotel on these principles: “to give everyone what they want, set an attractive table and keep charges within reason.” In 1914, the Pierces purchased the hotel from the other investors.

Interior courtyard, looking east. Newman Hall is visible behind. (photo: Picturing Berkeley)

Later view of interior courtyard, looking east (photo: BAHA archives)

The Pierce family ran the hotel for 42 years. In 1946, Cloyne Court was sold to the University Students Cooperative Association (USCA) for $125,000. By 1970 USCA was strapped for cash, having purchased several former sororities and built new co-ops. It sold Cloyne Court to the Regents of the University of California and has been leasing it back ever since. In the fall of 1972, the formerly all-male facility went co-ed with the arrival of 62 new female residents. Over the years, changes have been made to the room layout, the most significant occurring in 1976, when the suites were cut up and hallways added in the upper floors. Today, Cloyne Court houses 151 students and is affectionately known in the neighborhood as “Animal House.”

Ridge Road fa�ade (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

Le Roy Avenue fa�ade (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

Courtyard, looking northeast (photo: Daniella Thompson, March 2005)

Courtyard, looking northwest (photo: Daniella Thompson, March 2005)

West tower

East tower (photos: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

In Cheap Place to Live: A Biography of the University Students Co-operative Association, 1932–1971, Guy H. Lillian III reveals that during the 1950s and ’60s, an ongoing feud raged between the Cloyne Court co-op and the Berkeley chapter of Beta Theta Pi, located next door to the south and later across Ridge Road in what is now the Jesuit School of Theology’s Chardin Hall. The feud did not abate until the end of the ’60s, when the Beta Theta Pi chapter moved across campus to the Southside.

This and other fascinating stories are told in Calton Bolick’s Cloyne Court Unofficial Website. Cloyne Court was designated a City of Berkeley in November 1982. It is #92001718 on the National Register of Historic Places (added in 1992).

Front entrance (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2004)

East tower (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

Cloyne Court from the air (1994). At bottom right is the Goldman School of Public Policy (formerly Beta Theta Pi chapter house), before the new addition was built on its parking lot. Allanoke is at the bottom left-hand corner. The large white square at center left is the Jesuit School of Theology’s Chardin Hall, home of the Beta Theta Pi chapter during the 1960s. At the top right-hand corner with tennis courts on the roof is the upper Hearst parking structure, former site of College Hall. The parking lot to its left is the former home of Newman Hall. The two structures at top left are 19th century residences. Click the photo for an aerial view of Daley’s Scenic Park.



Copyright © 2003–2019 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.