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William Wurster Cottage

Berkeley, California



In the 1930’s a ship’s captain subdivided the property he owned in the Berkeley hills to create a small plot of land in the live oak forest and commissioned William Wurtser to design a modest home as a wedding gift for his daughter and new son-in-law.  Many years later the new Owner reversed the original transaction and purchased the cottage for his aging mother and retained Holey Associates to design an addition that would provide a ground level bedroom for his mother and a second level bedroom for a caretaker.  The original design generated a “battle” with the neighbor across the street who appealed the City approval and applied for a historic designation of the property in hopes of killing the project. Holey Associates worked with the Historic Preservation Committee and redesigned the residence to lightly touch the existing structure and enlist the support of many of Wurster’s friends and colleagues, including Dick Peters (studied with William Wurster),  Jay Turnbull (Architectural Historian in the Bay Area), Daniel Gregory (was raised in the Gregory Farmhouse his father commissioned from Wurster)…who all commented that the proposed design was something that Wurster may have created himself and embodied Wurster’s values.  In public hearing where the appellant was successful in having the property designated as an historic structure, the same Historic Preservation Committee unanimously approved the revised design proposal…much to the chagrin of the appellant/neighbor, who last even more of the non-protected view that he exhausted time and money to retain.

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