It is unusual to have two Julia Morgan homes on the market at the same time, let alone two of her earliest homes, but that is the auspicious situation we find ourselves in today. Following closely on the heels of the Galbraith house that we discussed a couple weeks ago, we now have the pleasure of sharing the William and Rachel Colby house which was built in 1905, a year prior to the Galbraith home and only four years into Morgan’s long and successful career.
The Colbys were both lawyers by trade, but they were also deeply involved in many aspects of the Berkeley and East Bay Community. Rachel taught at Oakland High and the UC Extension and was involved in numerous women’s organizations. William taught law at UC Berkeley and was the long time secretary of the Sierra Club and originator of the Sierra Club “outings” which still take place today. The Colby house even briefly became the Sierra Club Library for several years after the 1906 earthquake destroyed the San Francisco headquarters.
Much like the Galbraith home, the Colby house is built very much in the First Bay Region Style with its shingled exterior and raw wood interior. Unfortunately however, its recent history has not proved ideal for its long term preservation. The interior was reworked as a boarding house over twenty years ago and more recently the front yard was replaced with a large mass of concrete when the house was home to the brothers of Sigma Phi Epsilon. These alterations notwithstanding, the home retains a lot of great original details and great potential for the right buyer.