Our featured home today is one of a pair of “fireproof” homes designed by John Ballantine on La Vereda Road in Berkeley. Ballantine lost his own home in the infamous Berkeley fire of 1923 that claimed Bernard Maybeck’s house as well as more than a dozen other Maybeck structures in a single day. Much like Maybeck, Ballantine would substantially rethink the way he designed from that point on.
This particular home is essentially a structural concrete frame infilled with masonry. Very little of the exposed exterior is flammable. Interestingly, Ballantine chose to leave the same materials exposed on the inside of the home which makes for interiors that appear far more modern to us today than most of the other homes built during the same time period. His desire to minimize incendiary materials above all else resulted in a reduction of ornamentation and ultimately what would end up being a very forward-looking design.