In 1907 Duncan McDuffie and Joseph J. Mason started to subdivide an area of Berkeley bounded by what is now Derby Street, Belrose Avenue, Claremont Boulevard, Claremont Avenue, Russell Street and Oak Knoll Terrace. It would quickly become a desirable residential neighborhood called Claremont Court and marked by graceful gates that set off the subdivision. The area’s centerpiece was — and is to this day — the Claremont Hotel, opened in 1915 when it was described as “the largest wooden structure west of the Mississippi.”
Many of the original Claremont Court homes survive and most are both large and elegant, including 2800 Claremont Blvd, which recently came on the market for $1.95 million. The home is just a few hundred feet beyond those subdivision gates, two of whose brick posts survive.
The 2,695 square-foot house was built in 1915, or possibly 1922, according to listing agent Tom Watson of Climb Real Estate who says records show two different dates.
“It’s a gorgeous, spacious home,” Watson said, noting that almost every ground-floor room has floor-to-ceiling French doors that open to the outside. He says the three-bedroom, three-bathroom Georgian-style manor house has high ceilings, and is “very open and light.” Period details include original moldings, an elegant curved staircase that leads upstairs from the large hall entry, original built-ins, a tiled fireplace and picture railings.
There is a lot of extra, useable space beyond the main house, with a basement level that includes a sitting area, a full bathroom, a guest room and laundry room. The area might be suitable for an au pair or extended family. Storage space on this level could be turned into a workshop or wine cellar, suggests the listing website.
In addition, there is a self-contained, air-conditioned office with its own entrance and full bathroom attached to the house.
Watson notes that the master suite, adjoining sun room and remodeled bathroom, with its claw-foot tub and subway-tiled shower, are particularly lovely. “The owner did a really nice job,” he said.
Several other homes dating back to the original development of Claremont Court have recently come on the market. The eight-bedroom mansion at 2840 Claremont Blvd sold in December 2016 for $3.6 million, while 2967 Avalon Ave., a few doors down from 2800 Claremont Blvd, is currently for sale, priced at $4.67 million.