April 17, 2018 | Another Northbrae fountain: Part 2

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Friends and neighbors:

Our previous post on the fact that the Northbrae development had at least one other fountain operating at one time drew a lot of interest. (If you haven’t yet read it, you can find it here.) It also led to a lot of sleuthing by a number of people to try to help determine just where this smaller fountain stood, and to some other intriguing (if you are historically minded, that is) information about the area where it once flowed. Here is some of what we have learned:

It does not seem that the fountain was located on the triangular island where Fire Station No. 4 stands. The background in the old photograph could not have been pictured as it is if it was taken from the island. More likely, it stood either where the mid-crosswalk stoplight is now where Monterey meets The Alameda, or on the southwest corner of that intersection just a few yards away.

Compare the old photo (above) to a pair of others taken recently at those spots; the first is from the mid-crosswalk island; the second from the corner. (The garage seen across the street is an addition to the house in the old photo, which is mostly hidden behind the trees.)

A tip of the cap to FOFW board member and Realtor Holly Rose for identifying the house pictured in the old photo: it’s still on The Alameda a few houses down from Monterey, just looks a bit different all these years later. And to Brad Janke for using Google Earth to geo-locate the likely spot.

Another bit of history that emerged, this thanks to FOFW friend Charles Reichmann and Berkeley Garden Club President Margaret Williams:

The island where the unique round fire station has stood since 1960 was first the location of the Northbrae sales office for developers Mason-McDuffie. It then was purchased by the city in 1922 for $5,000 and made into a small park.

In 1935, the members of the newish Berkeley Garden Club took on a replanting of the park as their first civic project. Their club emblem was the flower of the native shrub Fremontia californicum, so they christened the island Fremontia Park. They planted some of the shrubs, some other plants, including roses and fuschia, and a cedar tree, which according to their historian, is one of the large trees still standing on the island today.

In 1954, the city decided that the park was the best location for a new firehouse for North Berkeley. According to Reichmann: “The proposal upset Northbrae residents and resulted in litigation which was decided in favor of the City.”

The unique firehouse, by the way, was designed by Ratcliff architects, one of Berkeley’s oldest firms founded by Walter Ratcliff, the first city architect and a man responsible for numerous civic and residential buildings. You can find more about him here.

Still, some mystery remains regarding the lost fountain of Northbrae. When was it removed? And did a companion fountain planned for a spot just outside the Solano Tunnel (where Sutter and Hopkins meet) ever get installed?

If anyone has further information on those mysteries, please contact FOFW at fountainandwalk@gmail.com.


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  • Oakland Tribune, Sunday, 20 October 1935

    Garden Club To Hear Talk

    The Berkeley Garden Club will sponsor a lecture tomorrow afternoon by Dr. William C. Paden, Alameda City School Superintendent, at the Berkeley Y. M. C. A. Building […]. Dr. Paden will discuss the activities of General John C. Fremont as a botanist. Dr. Paden has devoted years to field research work on Fremont’s exploratory work in the botanical world. Dr. Paden has chosen this subject in consideration of the Berkeley Garden Club’s activities in popularizing native California shrubs. The club has just completed the work of planting 35 Fremontia Mexicana trees at Fremontia Park at Monterey and Marin, in cooperation with the Berkeley Park Department. The public is Invited to Dr. Paden’s lecture.

  • Friends of the Fountain and Walk says:

    Thanks, Daniella!

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