A 1920s Berkeley Hills home built by Paul Theodore Beygrau, an artist, designer and jack of all (or at least many) trades, is up for sale with an asking price of $1,195,000.
Born in England, Beygrau came to California around 1910 after first immigrating to Canada. He was a unique character, and the four-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath home at 1051 Keith Ave. reflects his personal style in a number of ways.
One of the home’s most outstanding elements is the octagonal inlaid wood pattern in the front room floor. The seven-room, 2,040-square-room Mediterranean-style house has hardwood floors in almost every room, each with a different pattern, with wood in golden brown, wheat-brown and chocolate-brown shades.
The chandelier fixtures are designed to look like twining vines, and the ceilings of the four upstairs bedrooms have floral designs in the plasterwork, perhaps related to the fact that when Beygrau first came to North America, he worked as a fresco artist.
Around 1908, Beygrau married Marie Rosalie Schaaf of Alsace, France. Some say she carved the flowing designs in the house’s massive 4′ by 7′ door. In 1910, he worked as a traveling salesman for a paint company. He and his wife soon moved to Seattle, where he was a partner in an artificial stone company, according to architectural historian Daniella Thompson.
The latter job may account for the use of stone in the home’s steep front yard. A waterfall gushes past clustered stones just a few feet away from a long line of stone steps leading upward to the front door.
It’s a bit of a climb, and luckily there’s a deck by the front door to rest on. The deck has the feel of a treehouse, with huge pines and oaks in the front yard and a view of downtown Berkeley to the side.
The treehouse feeling continues in most of the rooms, whose windows look out on the flora outside and, in many cases, sweeping views. The Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge are visible from the master bedroom.
A bit of wear is evident in some cases, with worn-out plaster at the base of the front room fireplace and a stain on one of the hardwood floors. On the other hand, the most recent owners completely remodeled the kitchen and the bathrooms, adding a modern touch.
While the surrounding trees and distance from the street give the place a deep sense of privacy, the Gourmet Ghetto is about 10 blocks away, with all its amenities.
These amenities, of course, were decades away when Beygrau decided to build in the hills in 1925. He actually started with the house next door, 1049 Keith Ave. He lived there with his wife for a few years. No one knows why he built two houses.
Beygrau took out the building permit for 1051 Keith in 1927, Thompson said, but it’s not known when the house was completed. The 1930 U.S. Census shows no one living at 1051 Keith.
“By 1935, the house had been acquired by Franklin B. Doyle, an accountant. The only thing this house has in common with 1049 Keith Ave. is the hand-carved door,” Thompson said in an email. Like Beygrau, the most recent owners are artists.
“The Beygraus moved to Carmel and presumably spent the rest of their lives there,” Thompson said.
Open house: 1051 Keith Ave., described by the agent as the first rise uphill from the Gourmet Ghetto. It is having an open house Sunday, 2-4:30 p.m.
Update: Aug. 31, 6 p.m. This story has been updated to remove the references that the house was once a bohemian hub for artists and that Rudolph Valentino may have visited. Those references were inserted by an editor incorrectly and were not in the story submitted by the reporter, Janis Mara.