Davis House, Berkeley
Davis House Cooperative sits at 2833 Bancroft Steps in Berkeley, California. In its 102-year history, it has hardly changed despite that its role in the community is radically different from what it once was.
It was originally commissioned by Richard Clark, cousin of Phoebe Hearst and manager of the George Hearst estate. It was designed by the female architect Julia Morgan, famous for her design of Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California. When construction finished in 1913, the Clark house was in a fairly quiet hillside neighborhood. In less than ten years, the neighborhood would radically change with the construction of Memorial Stadium only a few hundred feet from the Clarks’ backdoor. They moved out and by the middle of the 1920s, the house had been purchased by the Omicron chapter of the Alpha Xi Delta sorority. The surrounding houses were mostly owned by other sororities and fraternities.
In the late 1960’s, the popularity of sororities and fraternities at UC Berkeley had declined, and Alpha Xi Delta closed their Berkeley chapter. Meanwhile, the Berkeley Student Cooperative was trying to decide how to make up for a shortage of student housing. The Berkeley Student Cooperative purchased the old Alpha Xi Delta house for $75,000 in the Summer of 1969. Davis House formally opened as a co-op in early 1970 and has remained a part of the student co-op housing system ever since.
With a history stretching back more than a century, Davis House speaks to a large number of people. Current and former residents, either from the sorority or the co-op, have a personal stake in this site as a notable part of their lives. So too can the general public appreciate this site for its architectural, historical, and cultural significance. Our goal is therefore to engage all of these groups while still respecting the fact that this is a private residence.
Meet the team
Nick is a Junior transfer student studying anthropology, with a focus on historical archaeology and archival research. He is originally from Maryland, but his roots are here in Berkeley.
Sachi is a senior at the University of California, Berkeley majoring in media studies. She is from Japan. She enjoys traveling and eating local foods.
Samantha is Jr. transfer student at the University of California, Berkeley majoring in Cultural Anthropology with an emphasis in ethnographic film work. She enjoys going on adventures, yoga and mindfulness.
Sarah is a fourth year media studies major at UC Berkeley who enjoys cooperative living, pizza, and comedy.