Ashkenaz will use a $27,000 grant it received from the Berkeley Preservation Trust to seismically upgrade its building and help fund a new roof. Photo: Joe Balestreri
Ashkenaz will use a $27,000 grant it received from the Berkeley Preservation Trust to seismically upgrade its building and help fund a new roof. Photo: Joe Balestreri

A bell tower constructed in 1878. A nursery school built in 1927. An import-export warehouse converted into a music venue. A prefabricated panel cottage put together in 1887.

These four Berkeley structures will soon be improved, thanks to $87,000 generated by the settlement of a lawsuit between Berkeley and Concerned Library Users, a group that protested how some Measure FF library bond funds were to be used.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, which administered the Berkeley Preservation Fund, will officially hand out the grants at a ceremony at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 21, at the Ashkenaz Music and Dance Community Center on San Pablo Avenue, one of the beneficiaries of the grant.

Ashkenaz Music and Dance Community Center

The Ashkenaz Music and Dance Community Center (pictured top) is going to use the $27,000 it received to do some seismic retrofit work and to replace an aging roof, said Gary Skupa, a board member. Ashkenaz plans to secure the ends of the roof rafters to the wall and install blocking between the ceiling joists. That should minimize shaking in the building, which was constructed in 1945 as an import-export warehouse. Ashkenaz still has to raise more funds to replace the roof, a project that will cost between $65,000 and $75,000, said Skupa. But the Berkeley Historic Preservation grant will be a big help, he said.

The Good Shepherd Episcopal Church

The Good Shepherd Church on Ninth Street will use grant money to repair its 136-year-old bell tower and its front steps. Photo: Good Shepherd Episcopal Church

The Good Shepherd Episcopal Church will use the $25,000 it received from the grant to repair its front steps and 136-year-old bell tower. Both are failing due to severe dry rot, weather damage and structural weakness. The church, at 1823 Ninth St., was heavily damaged by a fire two years ago, but is undergoing repair.  The church was constructed in 1878 and is oldest continually operating church in Berkeley. It is scheduled to reopen on Sept 21.

“This grant has been a real godsend,” said Rev. Este Gardner Cantor, the church vicar. “Even though we still have a ways to go in our fundraising efforts, this grant has made all the difference for us. We have been working on this restoration for almost two years, and this has been one of our best pieces of news!”

Lifelong Medical Care

The Berkeley Day Nursery Building, now used by Lifelong Medical Care. Photo: Noe Hill/Berkeley Historical Plaque Project
The Berkeley Day Nursery Building, now used by Lifelong Medical Care. Photo: Noe Hill/Berkeley Historical Plaque Project

Lifelong Medical Care received $25,000 to help it repair and maintain the former Berkeley Day Nursery, established in 1908 as the first nursery for children of working parents in California.

The building at 2031 Sixth St. was designed in 1927 by Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr. and is considered a fine example of the Bay Region Tradition of natural wood and exposed beam construction, according to Janice Edwards, a spokewoman for Lifelong. The medical clinic, which serves 9,000 people a year at that site alone, took over the structure in 1996. Parts of the building were repaired when Lifelong built an adjacent $13 million addition in 2014, but the grant funds will allow it to  rehabilitate two historic windows and replace two others that were installed earlier without regard to the historic nature of the structure’s English Cottage style.

Lifelong aso used composite roof tiles to repair the roof but will now replace those with slate tiles to match the original ones, said Edwards. (Read more about the Berkeley Day Nursery on the Berkeley Historical Plaque Project.)

The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association

Following stucco removal, September 2004 (photo: Daniella Thompson)
The Kenney-Meinheit Cottage, following stucco removal, in Sept. 2004. Photo: Daniella Thompson

The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association will use its $10,000 grant money — plus another $10,000 it will donate — to fix up the Kenney-Meinheit Cottage, built in 1887. BAHA will use the funds to rebuild parts of the front porch, replace some wooden windows and trim, and replace some of the siding on the gables, according to Susan Dinkelspiel Cerny, a board member (no relation to this reporter).

The cottage, which is resting on cribbing in a temporary location on University Avenue near San Pablo Avenue, is one of the oldest surviving prefabricated Elsford’s Portable houses. It has been named City of Berkeley Landmark #236.

The home was originally located at 2214 Addison St. and was constructed for Elizabeth M. Kenney, who operated a stationery store in the Southern Pacific Railroad Depot at Center St. and Shattuck Ave., according to Dmitri Belser, another BAHA board member.

“She and members of her family, including a nephew, James Kenney, who would become Berkeley’s first fire chief, lived in the cottage until 1898 when it was sold to Ludwig Meinheit,” said Belser.

Belser recently spent three months chipping off the stucco on one side of the building because it was pulling down the wall. Belser is hoping to purchase land, preferably in south Berkeley, on which to relocate the cottage, he said. BAHA will gift the building, but will maintain the ultimate say over its restoration, he said.

Berkeley’s Good Shepard Church to reopen on Sept. 21 (06.17.14)
Years of work culminate in new Berkeley medical clinic (03.04.14)
Lawsuit yields money for historic preservation in Berkeley (02.14.14)
Berkeley settles contentious library lawsuit (09.06.11)

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman...