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Walter H. Ratcliff Jr.’s ‘Cairns House’ in Berkeley hits the market for $3.195M

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115-year-old neoclassical home comes with period details

Facade of home with stucco facade, brick steps and porch, and wood paneled door. There are two trees and a garden in the front. Photos by Open Homes Photography, courtesy of McGuire Real Estate

Brimming with period charm and architectural significance, the home at 2729 Elmwood in Berkeley, designed by architect Walter H. Ratcliff Jr., lands on the market this week.

Originally built for John Jolly Cairns, a Scotland-born farmer who’s considered a pioneer of modern irrigation, the house comes with six bedrooms, five bathrooms, and a whopping 5,342 square feet.

In all, it has 18 rooms.

The two-story, asymmetrical abode features a stucco facade. A diamond-paned window motif runs throughout the entire home, a throwback that pairs beautifully with an abundance of unpainted redwood paneling.

Other dreamy highlights include leaded-glass light sconces; a large glass chandelier in the foyer; high ceilings; and an eight-foot-wide fireplace. There’s also a bas relief panel abide said fireplace, sculpted by father-and-son team Domingo and Jo Mora, depicting a medieval hunting party.

Also of note, famed plagiarist Walter Keane once lived in the Elmwood Street home. Walter made a name for himself after falsely claiming to have painted the “big eye” works of Margaret Keane, his former wife, who successfully sued him for millions of dollars.

According to the listing, “The Keanes’ daughter remembers the house as a mansion and the living room as a ballroom. Barbara, who kept the house until 1976, remarried and subdivided the house. Well into the 1980s, the living room was set off as part of a separate apartment, with a kitchen area located along the wall between the foyer and dining room doors.”

Since then, most of the major alterations that divided the house into apartments have been undone. For the most part, the house stands today as Ratcliff had envisioned it 115 years ago.

Asking is $3,195,000, listed through Jenny Wang of McGuire Real Estate.

Redwood paneling adorns the entire foyer, leading to a staircase with a modern, staggered chandelier with globe lights.
Foyer with redwood paneling.
Diamond paned windows and redwood trim accent the living room, punctuated by a bas relief above the fireplace depicting a hunting scene.
Living room with sculpted bas relief above the fireplace.
A new kitchen with white accents and appliances, as well as a black-and-white tile backsplash. There’s also more redwood trim, as well as an eat-in dining area with windows looking into the back yard.
Renovated kitchen still maintains the home’s redwood theme.
The diamond pane window motif continues in the dining room, with more redwood paneling on the walls and cover yet another fireplace next to the dining table.
Formal dining room with fireplace.
On the second floor, a staggered chandelier with globe lighting highlights the space. More redwood paneling on the walls, as well as a redwood banister and railing.
Staircase landing on the second floor.
This sunroom is drenched in natural light. It’s also painted white and featured high ceilings and exposed beams. Windows cover half of the room.
White sunroom with exposed beams breaks up the redwood monotony.
White walls and a hint of redwood molding grace the master bedroom, which features a bed with white linens and two comfy white chairs near the window overlooking the yard.
Master bedroom.