Davis House Cooperative sits at 2833 Bancroft Steps in Berkeley, California. It is a short walk from the University of California’s campus, uphill from the International House and shares a parking lot with Memorial Stadium. In its 102-year history, it has changed little despite its role has changed in the community.
An exterior of brick leads to a second floor of white stucco. A carved wooden trim, painted green, highlights the entire facade. Wrought-iron balustrades sit under the windows and iron lanterns sit by the front door. A gabled roof barely peeks above the neighboring trees and shrubbery; the house is so effectively hidden by its landscaping that it can be difficult to get an impression of the whole building from the outside. Yet the interior reveals a lush reminder of Berkeley’s past: heavy oak doors give way to grand halls with intricately carved wood paneling, mixing natural and classical themes in their scrollwork. Four large fireplaces feature heavy mantelpieces and marble framing. Elaborate neoclassical light fixtures hang from high, vaulted ceilings.
Today, Davis House is a part of the Berkeley Student Cooperative (BSC). This system of cooperative living houses operate on a principle of student self-determination, with the day-to-day operations of co-op houses being implemented and managed by the students who live there. Davis House is therefore managed by a constantly rotating body of residents. The house currently holds 36 residents, and these students are responsible for cooking meals, for cleaning house, and for overseeing the house’s own budget.