High-Peaked Colonial Revival

Part 6: Siblings and neighbors

Daniella Thompson

2326 Webster St. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

8 March 2005

Traditionally, when builders put up several High-Peaked Colonial Revival houses in the same vicinity, they scrupled to individualize them to a greater or lesser degree. Three related houses are scattered on the 2300 block of Webster Street. Each one was given its own character, but their cross-bracketed (or pierced, knee-braced) porch posts betray a shared provenance.

2333 Webster St. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

2316 Webster St. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

While each of the three has a different gable, they all feature a rustic porch that runs the length of the front fašade and lends a farmhouse appearance to these suburban dwellings. Atypically for farmhouses, a decorative frieze runs under the porch eaves. In two of the houses, the porch posts and the frieze are identical. What a clever way to knit a neighborhood together visually without condemning it to cookie-cutter repetition.

2333 Webster St.

2326 Webster St.

2316 Webster St. (photos: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

The pair below is almost identical, but they are located on different streets in the same neighborhood. Coming upon one of them after having seen the other is a surprising reward.

3010 Benvenue Ave.(photo: Daniella Thompson,

Detail, 3010 Benvenue Ave.
(photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

3015 Hillegass Ave. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

At the northwest corner of Regent and Russell Streets, two half-timbered cottages, built in 1906–1907, are positioned at 90 degrees to each other.

2449 Russell St. (left) & 2840 Regent St. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

The gable stucco on the Russell Street house is rough, while on its Regent Street neighbor it is smooth. Russell Street is clad in narrow clapboard on the ground floor; Regent Street is shingled. The gable windows have different shapes, and the half-timbering pattern is varied. Together, the two cottages create a charming mini-enclave that could be taken for an English village street. It’s no surprise, since their first owner and architect was the English-born John Shaw Helyer (1859–1919), best known for his work in Vancouver, British Columbia—most notably the Dominion Trust Building.

2449 Russell St. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

2840 Regent St. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

The cottages below appear to be twins separated at birth. In fact, one inspired the other. The older house is the painted one, located just south of the Berkeley High School campus amid some wildly flamboyant Victorians. The brown shingle sits in the sedately genteel Elmwood neighborhood. It was built specifically to look just like the Channing Street house. According to the Edwards Transcipts of Records for Alameda County, a Building Contract Notice filed on 16 September 1905 announced that on the south side of Webster, 475.06 feet east of College, all work with exception to certain plastering, etc., for a 1-1/2-story dwelling for Mrs. S. Crow was to be an exact duplicate of the dwelling of Mrs. Matthews, 1908 Channing. The architect and contractor was Thomas M. Grigg, and the construction cost was to be $1,900.

2738 Webster St. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

1908 Channing St. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2009)

2738 Webster St.
(Sanborn maps, 1911)

1908 Channing St.
(Sanborn maps, 1911)

These details from 1911 Sanborn fire insurance maps reveal the houses’ near-identical plans. Both cottages continue to exude country charm by way of their square corner bays, dentils, sawtooth shingle trim, and diamond insets in the window panes.

2738 Webster St. (photo: Daniella
Thompson, 2005)

1908 Channing St. (photo: Daniella Thompson, 2005)

See also:
Colonial Revival buildings in Ashby Station

Essays & Stories

Copyright © 2005–2018 Daniella Thompson. All rights reserved.