Only three 19th century commercial buildings are still standing on busy University Avenue. 844 and 982 University Avenue are physically intact examples of what was, in the 1880s, a common commercial style. Tall display windows for lighting the interior of the business reflected a technical advance of pane-glass making in the mid-nineteenth century. Surrounding these large windows were carved wood moldings and brackets typical of the Victorian era.
The Suendermann Plumbing Company building is located at the corner of Eighth Street and University Avenue at 921 University Avenue and was built in the early 1880s or late 1870s. The ground floor retail space has been modernized several times and today incorporates additions to the west and north sides of the building. But despite these extensive ground floor alterations, the building still displays its Victorian origins and its Italianate style on the second floor.
The building’s rectangular shape, gabled roof, partial false front pediment, shallow overhanging closed eaves with carved brackets below, and tall windows (now aluminum), paired on the front and single on the side, with molded drip hoods and carved brackets are evidence of its early construction.
These three remaining 19th century commercial buildings were part of a larger 19th century commercial district on lower University Avenue that served Berkeley’s early settlement of Ocean View.
Susan Cerny writes Berkeley Observed in conjunction with the Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association.