Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pratt Thomas House, 800 Shattuck, Berkeley (1911)

This entire hillside was bare and unpopulated when developer Pratt commissioned JHT to design three houses, that cascade down the hill, on Indian Rock Avenue, beginning with the top house across the street from Indian Rock Park. A more commanding site could not be imagined. With thrilling views down the street to the Marin Circle and vast views across the Bay in all directions, JHT, who'd had the pick of the litter when it comes to lots, had the choicest location at 800 Shattuck.

I've a sneaking suspicion he liked to look at his own work, and designed the two houses below 800 Shattuck - the Pratt-Verber House next door and the Pratt House adjacent to it - at 959-961 Indian Rock so that he could view them from his living room window.

I had a lovely visit with Dorcas Kowalski, owner of the Pratt-Thomas house. She gave me a tour of the property. It was thrilling to sit in what was once Thomas' house and look across the living room to see his other houses, just below.

It's sometimes called his honeymoon house for he moved here in 1911 with his new wife and lived here for two years. The master bedroom has matching his and her walk in closets, each with a window. In the middle, in the master bedroom, is a fireplace.

The Pratt Thomas house has a fireplace centered in a spacious inglenook with a wide arch framing the opening. Mr. Kowalski papered the inglenook ceiling with art works.

The Kowalskis have owned it since 1960.

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