The Berkeley City Club
Julia Morgan, renowned as the architect of the Hearst Castle at San Simeon, was also the architect of the Berkeley City Club, also known as her jewel, “the little castle”. Built in eleven months, this six-story landmark opened in 1930 as the “Berkeley Women’s City Club” with a membership of over 4,500. Originally a social club and residence for women, the Berkeley City Club has been available to both women and men since 1962 and today serves as a club, hotel, dining room, event and conference center as well as meeting place for Berkeley's business community. This historic building also hosts guided public tours, art exhibits and provides a beautiful venue for theatre and musical performances.
The building reflects the expanding roles of Bay Area women in the 1920s. The founding group of women, active in civic, social, athletic and philanthropic causes, wanted one impressive, multi-use building rather than several small clubhouses. At the height of her career, Bay Area architect and one of UC Berkeley’s first women graduates, as well as the first woman architect to be licensed in California, Julia Morgan was a natural choice for the project.
The City Club is known for its steel-reinforced concrete walls and ceilings (artfully fashioned to look like wood), leaded glass windows, interior courtyards and magnificent indoor swimming pool. This building is a blend of Romanesque and Moorish styles of architecture common to the areas surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Julia Morgan’s engineering skills, evident in the seismically solid building’s exterior, were matched by her attention to the interior designs for furniture, light fixtures, distinctive fireplaces and even dishes.
When the club opened in 1930, its members were jubilant. Eva F. Hicks, Chairman of the Furnishing Committee would exclaim, “Is a castle in Spain realizable? Yes, when four thousand women dream it together!” T.E. Caldecott, then Mayor of Berkeley, congratulated the club members, saying that the building was “indicative of the future of this splendid city” and “an inspiration to all of us.” Indeed, the club would bring great gifts to the Berkeley community, its halls and hearths welcoming East Bay residents to celebrate art, culture and most of all, friendship.
In 1930, Julia Morgan dubbed The Berkeley City Club the "Little Castle" with its concrete walls and ceilings, leaded glass windows, exquisite courtyards, and impressive indoor pool.
Original Property Opened: 1930
2315 Durant Ave
Historic Hotels of America toll-free reservations number (800) 678-8946
The Great Depression, 1929 ~ 1938
Julia Morgan, renowned as the architect of the Hearst Castle at San Simeon, was also the architect of the Berkeley City Club, also known as her jewel, “the little castle”. Built in eleven months, this six-story landmark opened in 1930 as the “Berkeley Women’s City Club” with a membership of over 4,500.
Learn more about the History of The Berkeley City Club.