Sunday, September 9, 2012

Berkeley Women's City Club

Berkeley Women's City Club (1930s)
Berkeley Women's City Club

Location: 2315 Durant Avenue, Berkeley, California, USA

Opened: Building completed in 1930

Closed: Has been the coed Berkeley City Club since 1962

From the Berkeley City Club website:

In 1929, Julia Morgan designed the Berkeley Women's City Club, the collective vision of its 4000 female members: Lush gardens and courtyards provided sanctuary. A library and roaring fireplace brought great friends and conversation together. An invigorating pool enlivened body and spirit. More than a building, the Women's City Club fulfilled dreams.

Today, the Berkeley City Club is a private club for both men and women, and a meeting place for Berkeley's arts and culture community. Morgan's "little castle" has been renovated and is an exciting destination hotel for architecture-lovers and a favorite venue for weddings and special occasions.
More than a building, the Berkeley City Club continues to inspire friendships, celebrate beauty and nourish dreams.

In reading further, we find out that the Berkeley Women's City Club was not just a social club, but also served as a residence for women.

If you look at some of the interior photos, you quickly realize why the boys wanted access. It's just too damn beautiful....And we can't let the womenfolk keep such inspiring space all to themselves, can we? Even though it is exceedingly rare to have such a gorgeous facility designed by a woman for women.

Berkeley Women's City Club dining room (1930s)

Berkeley Women's City Club board
Berkeley Women's City Club pool (1930s)

Open loggia off east court (1930s)

For additional information about the building, see Daniela Thompson's article at the Berkeley heritage site here.
Julia Morgan (1872-1957)
Of course, some of our more progressive Lost readers will point out that this was a space that was reserved for upper-crust women only. Needless to say, they are absolutely correct. However, when we see that even well-heeled women seemed incapable of maintaining and defending a women-only space for more than a generation or so, it certainly illustrates the limits of money and class privilege when it comes to the control of space for women and by women.
There is a fair amount of information available on Julia Morgan, who was a magnificent architect and real trailblazer for women entering the professions. Here is one place to start.

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