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Berkeley abode for sale once housed Dorothea Lange and her darkroom

Inspired first by Maybeck, and then by a long list of celebrity tenants

Anna Marie Erwert

Aug. 25, 2021

If these walls could talk, which illustrious person would they mention first? With a long list of famous owners and guests, this Berkeley home is a Bernard Maybeck-inspired masterpiece and historic gem asking $1.65 million.

Among those influential Americans who have called 2706 Virginia St. home is photographer Dorothea Lange, who lived here with her husband economist Paul Taylor. Lange used what is now an apartment below the main house as a darkroom “where she developed some of her most well-known works,” according to the listing’s official website.

Paul Taylor was a social scientist at UC Berkeley involved in studying and documenting the experiences of migrant farmworkers in the 1930s. He met Lange after seeing her photographs taken of the infamous San Francisco Waterfront Strike of 1934. 

Though both married to other people at the time, Lange and Taylor fell in love. To be together, they divorced and then married each other – a relationship that lasted until Lange’s death in 1965. Their collective passion for documenting the struggles of the Depression era, particularly workers or those who could not find work, is credited for inspiring New Deal policies.

It isn’t difficult to imagine Lange and Taylor living in this home: Its clear Maybeck-inspired Arts and Crafts details echo some of the buildings erected by the Works Progress Administration of the New Deal. “On his way to work in the early years of the last century, architect and UC Berkeley professor Bernard Maybeck would take a path through Berkeley’s rustic Scenic Park tract, often talking to neighbors along the way. In 1906, one of these neighbors, a San Francisco accountant named Herbert Jenness, was building a summer home and would often stop Maybeck and ask for advice. Legend has it that Maybeck, perhaps weary of the questions (or, more likely, excited by the project), looked at the site, took up a paper bag and sketched out the floor plan for this remarkable house,” American Bungalow wrote of the home’s Maybeck inspiration.

Along with Jenness and Lange, other owners include novelist George Stewart and poet and Academy Award winner Jeremy Larner.

The home is a generous 3,150 square feet, set on a private, lush landscape of trees and flowers.
Stephanie Dewey, Reflex Images The home is a generous 3,150 square feet, set on a private, lush landscape of trees and flowers with UC Berkeley very close by. There is a main home and a fully equipped lower level apartment. 
The entry features classic exposed beams.
Elite Studios llc, Stephanie Dewey, Reflex Images The entry features classic exposed beams.
Inside, the Maybeck influence is clear in the Arts and Crafts details, including the wood paneling and stone hearth. 
Elite Studios llc, Stephanie Dewey, Reflex Images Inside, the Maybeck influence is clear in the Arts and Crafts details, including the wood paneling and stone hearth. 
Built-ins create not only clever organization but also the lines and geometry integral to this architectural aesthetic. 
Elite Studios llc, Stephanie Dewey, Reflex Images Built-ins create not only clever organization but also the lines and geometry integral to this architectural aesthetic.