The Gifford McGrew House

  • 06/9/20

The Gifford McGrew House • $3,199,000
​​​​​​​2601 Derby Street • Berkeley • California

Designed by renowned Bay Area architect Bernard Maybeck, 2601 Derby Street is one of the East Bay’s most architecturally significant brown shingle homes - and coming to the market soon.

​​​​​​​Gifford McGrew commissioned Maybeck to construct his home at the turn of the 20th-century, when he moved his family from Massachusetts to Berkeley to take an assistant librarian position at UC Berkeley. 

The librarian sought input from other prominent Berkeley citizens including author and poet Charles Keeler (Maybeck’s biographer), and Reverend Joseph Worcester - an architectural devotee. Together, they’re considered the most important “apostles” of the architectural—and cultural—movement that brought Berkeley its distinctive brown shingle aesthetic.

Considered one of Berkeley’s most important and historic brown shingle homes—the five-bedroom, three-story Gifford McGrew House embodies the remarkable design history and construction feats that exemplify the character of Berkeley’s early architectural history. 

Prominently Situated on the Corner of Derby and Hillegass, Across From Willard Park, the Gifford Mcgrew House Is on the Market for $3,199,000

In 1895 Maybeck designed the Keeler family home on Highland Place, in a steep-roofed style very similar to the McGrew House. Keeler would publish his influential treatise The Simple Home in 1904, timestamping the McGrew house between Maybeck’s first brown shingle commissions in Berkeley and the popularization of his design philosophy.

​​​​​​​The contractor is said to have been A.H. Broad, who was one of Berkeley’s first elected town trustees, an artist, and a busy builder who left distinctive homes and school buildings across Berkeley, some now designated as City Landmarks.

The McGrew house (and its predecessors) became the examples of the “movement towards a simpler, a truer, a more vital art expression of simplicity,” according to Charles Keeler, who assumed the role of spokesperson for the ‘the simple life.’

There have been several owners and some remodeling and structural upgrades at the house since then, including Jeremy Kidson, of Jeremy’s Department Store fame.

Bernard C. Maybeck, Architect
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