After Bernard Maybeck’s large family house on Buena Vista Way in Berkeley burned down in the 1923 fire, it was never rebuilt, nor did he build another large house for his family. Instead, over the following years, he and his family built several cottages, all in the same neighborhood, some on the site of his original house. Maybeck had purchased large parcels of land in the North Berkeley hills and 2751 Buena Vista Way was one of two family houses, essentially the same design but arranged to fit the graceful bay view site. These homes were built during the Depression to keep his staff and craftsmen working. Over the years, various family members moved in and out of their 8 different houses, all cottages or chalets except for “Hilltop” in Kensington. 2751 Buena Vista however, was the heart of the extended family, where Bernard and Annie lived for several years and to which Wallen, Jacomena and the twins eventually returned. It embodies many of Maybeck’s notions about what an ideal home should be; modest, free of adornment, well integrated into its site amidst the lush foliage and with views of the S.F.Bay. The living room has a medieval quality with a contemporary twist: its high arched beam ceilings and floor to ceiling metal sash cathedral windows at either end, create drama, atmosphere and add light. The oversized fireplace, as in all Maybeck’s houses, reflects his belief that it is “the living heart” and gathering place of the family. Hob seating flanks this 6 foot fireplace. Built-in seating performs an additional function of forming a barrier to the staairway, obscuring it and providing extra storage. His decorative use of structural elements,such as the beams, can be seen in many of the houses he designed. The many windows and French doors out to the decks, including one hanging on chains, extend the interior spaces outside and allow one to participate in the beautiful natural landscape, which he so loved. Watching the filtered light through the trees in the late afternoon in the bedroom with the hanging deck is magical.
It has a very intimate and romantic quality and sits on the corner of the private Maybeck Twin Drive and Buena Vista Way, a neighborhood steeped in Berkeley history, with houses designed by many notable architects, from William C Hayes, John Hudson Thomas and John Galen Howard to John Hans Ostwald, Gerald McCue and Robert Ratcliff. Dues for the Maybeck Twin Drive Homeowner's association are currently $600 annually and the members meet twice a year.
Around 1940, when Bernard and Annie Maybeck were living here, a cooking fire charred the interior but did not destroy the house. Bernard used sandblasting to remove all the blackened areas and the knotty pine panels were replaced with plywood, “a new material’, which was dyed to match the beams. The 1” honey maple floors, laid in a diamond pattern, have a wonderful patina from this period of this restoration. The interior wooden posts, walls and doors all show the wood grain, heightened by the sandblasting.
Much work has been done in more recent years to all the systems, including roof, foundation, electrical, fireplace and a master bathroom,sensitively designed to fit the character of the home, was added. The beautiful landscaping has been enhanced to showcase the house tucked into its glorious site. It includes a vegetable garden, flowering cherry, fig, apple, grapefruit, quince, crabapple and tangerine trees, as well as a Japanese maple. A beautiful climbing red rose, which blooms several times a year, flanks the front gate. It has an artist's studio with western exposure, where Jacomena Maybeck, a ceramist, spent many hours, as well as a basement and garage. Attached are photos of Jacomena turning a pot in her studio and the twins when they were little girls.
"So many joyous gatherings, so many happy memories in this house", says Bernard Maybeck's twin grandaughters.
It is close to U.C.Berkeley, Greenwood Common, Codornices Park, the Rose Garden and minutes to Tilden Park and the amenities of "Gourmet Ghetto".