This 8,639-square-foot mansion has starred in many historic roles over the last century, and still very much looks the part. Built in 1910 for Paul O. Tietzen, an oil baron and banker, this house was one of the first two structures built inside the Claremont Court neighborhood. It was designed by John Galen Howard, who employed Julia Morgan early in her career. Howard is well known in Berkeley, particularly for designing many structures on the UC Berkeley campus including the Greek Theater, Memorial Stadium, Doe Library, Sather Gate and Sather Tower (the Campanile).
Listing agent Allen Hibbard tells On the Block that Tietzen and his wife chose Berkeley, which at that time was mostly farmland, because Mrs. Tietzen “did not want to live close to the oil derricks in Southern California.” Across from 2840 Claremont Blvd. is Clement’s Episcopal Church, built circa 1909, and is the other (together with this mansion) of the first two structures in Claremont Court.
Claremont homes make a splash on the local real estate market. A 1901 traditional at 24 Plaza Dr. — a quarter the size of this mansion — listed and sold in less than a month early this June for a final price of $2,625,000 (an over-bid of $641,880).
Only three owners in over a century
This Claremont manse presents a time capsule — its preservation due, in part, to the fact that it has changed hands only three times before its current debut on the market. Mr. Tietzen sold to the Ballards: “According to a descendant, Mr. Ballard invented a lubricant that did not break down in salt water just prior to World War II, which was very interesting to the U.S. Navy,” says Hibbard.
In 1968, the Ballards sold to David and Sylvia Tower, who ran the Berkeley Psychotherapy Clinic for many years. And thus ends the ownership records for this property.
Updating vs. preserving
The house sits on almost a half-acre of prime, coveted Berkeley land. There are five bedrooms and three bathrooms on the second level; two bedrooms, a kitchen and a bath in the attic; the original club room, with a bath and still another kitchen in the basement; and a studio unit over the garage, with additional bath and kitchen.
For the most part, the house remains as it was built. The main family kitchen was updated sometime after 1968 by Mrs. Tower; otherwise, it could easily still suit the oil baron and his wife.
New owners, hopefully, will also appreciate the architectural merits of this grand old home, though, fairly, may wish to make a few additional updates. So readers: If you had the $5,450,000 listing price, what would you change (if anything) in this historic home?
Anna Marie Erwert writes from both the renter and new buyer perspective, having (finally) achieved both statuses. She focuses on national real estate trends, specializing in the San Francisco Bay Area and Pacific Northwest. Follow Anna on Twitter: @AnnaMarieErwert