Even the preservationists struggled to come up with nice things to say about this place. The LPC charitably described the turn-of-the-century Colonial-Revival style building as "unpretentious." According to a Daily Californian story at the time commissioner Jill Korte said it was important not to apply historic significance merely to architectural masterpieces, but also to an old building like the Swink House that "tells the story of how the city developed." It probably could tell the story better if you could see it well from the street. But that's difficult, since it's obscured by a commercial building whose front faces Shattuck Avenue.
No one seemed to give a damn about the Swink House until a developer proposed putting a small, swanky boutique hotel on the site, which is across the street from local fave the French Hotel. But after the proposal came along, several merchants in the area and even famed Chez Panisse restaurateur Alice Waters insisted the house be saved.
The developer told the Daily Cal, "It's pretty hard to justify keeping a structure which is structurally deteriorated, burned out, has been substantially altered, and is barely visible from the street." Perhaps he'd never worked in Berkeley before.
Seven Days - March 22, 5:57 PM
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