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Berkeley: Serene Mid-Century Living is Expensive

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1959: Eisenhower and Nixon are in office, Buddy Holly dies, Hawaii becomes a state. And in Berkeley, Gerald McCue builds this lovely 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath house at 89 Southampton Avenue, new to the market and asking $2,500,000. McCue was a product of the Berkeley School of Architecture from the days of William Wurster, went on to be an influential architect and teacher as the head of Harvard's School of Architecture, and built a number of houses like this in Berkeley. Close to the lot line and street, the house looks inward to a courtyard and through the house with views of the bay (floor plan after the jump.) Two stories in the back, with a full and presumably legal apartment downstairs. Fir ceilings, and a beautiful long living/dining area with a pitched ceiling. Perfect if you collect mid-century furniture, with rooms crying out for a little love from George Nakashima and Florence Knoll.

[Update, January 3, 2010: Turns out the house is much less Gerald McCue than we thought. It's been completely reinvented by Joanne Koch of Koch Architects, and was once stucco, just for starters. Although the vaulted ceilings are original, almost the entire rest of the house in not, and five more images have been added to the gallery to give some sense of the amount of work undertaken. McCue visited the house late last year and praised both its evocation of the time and the seamless quality of the renovation, and we couldn't agree more. As for the asking price (more on that after the jump) there's something to be said for buying a perfect Mid-Century house that's already fallen down around someone else's ears.]


Click on the floor plan to enlarge in a new window (lower level not shown)
[Credit: Koch Architects]

It's a great house, and the listing tells us it's had its solar and seismic upgrades. Plus a new master suite. But we're a little wary of the price. At a time when prices are dropping everywhere to pre-2005 levels, we ask "does this house really deserve to fetch almost a million dollars over its 2006 sale of $1,580,618?" Open on Sunday, October 3, 2010 and seriously worth a visit.
· 89 Southampton Avenue, Berkeley [Redfin]
· 89 Southampton Avenue, Berkeley [Norah Brower]
· Gerald McCue [PCAD]
· Koch Architects [Koch Architects]