The Gifford McGrew house has been on and off the market a number of times over the past few years, but it is probably an important enough structure that it should really be mentioned here each time it is relisted. The home was reportedly a collaboration between the owner (an employee of the university), Bernard Maybeck, Charles Keeler, and Reverend Joseph Worcester. The latter three of these men were arguably the collective founders and largest proponents of the early arts and crafts movement in the Bay Area, so this home rightfully holds a special place in Berkeley’s history.
The house is deceptively simple on the outside with its high peaked roof and relatively small windows. It epitomizes what Keeler would come to call “The Simple Home” in his manifesto of the same name in 1904. Inside, every room is filled with the rough-hewn redwood details that one expects to find in a Maybeck home. Every surface has been encapsulated in wood and though the rooms are relatively large, the warm dark hues of the wood make the spaces feel supremely “cozy” for lack of a better word.
If you didn’t see it last time it was on the market, make sure not to miss it this time. Give me a call and I will take you. It is well worth it, and where else can you have a private tour of what could arguably be a museum to the Bay Area Arts and Crafts movement for free. If you are interested in more info on the house and its history, please see Steven Finacom’s well-researched article for the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association which was written back in 2007 on a previous occasion the house was on the market.