Walking around the hills of Berkeley, CA the other day, we came across the Spring Estate. Very cool. What is this?
Designed by John Hudson Thomas in 1912, this stately landmark offers expansive views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate, and sits on a rare park-like 2.5 acre site.
The property is so big (one of the largest ‘residential parcels’ in Berkeley), that it has 3 addresses, one for each of the streets that make up its borders. Apparently the Spring Estate has been uninhabited for the last 9 years, so it will be interesting to see what becomes of it once sold.
Initially a private residence when it was built, John Spring sold the mansion only a few years later. The new owner, Cora Williams, turned the estate into an education institution (the Institute of Creative Development) and it wasn’t until that 1970’s that it once again became a private residence.
Reading up about the estate on berkeleyheritage.com it was noted that “The Spring mansion is probably the only residence in the East Bay which has a reinforced concrete roof” since there was no fire protection in the area when it was built. Unfortunately, that may be one of the few parts of the mansion that doesn’t need restoration. Peering through the chain link fence, currently surrounding the property, all one can see are millions of dollars worth of deferred maintenance and endless potential. It’s a gorgeous piece of land with stunning views of the bay.
The Estate Grounds Are a 100 Year Old Botanical Garden
In a 2010 SF Chronicle article, the then realtor for the property, Robin Gaskins noted, “the most impressive aspect of the home isn’t even the mansion, but the landscape grounds that surround it.” Described in marketing materials as a “100-year-old botanical garden.” The grounds, originally designed by Mark Daniels, “include multiple trees that are rare for the area, as well as various ornaments and a fountain, though they’ve admittedly been neglected over the years.”
It would be amazing if the new owners opened up the garden to public access although the deer we saw enjoying the place would probably just love to keep it as is. What do you think should the place should be? Private residence? Public park? Private school? Let us know!