Berkeley’s Bungalow Church
Tucked away in the famed gourmet ghetto of Berkeley, the church on the corner of Walnut and Cedar, for nearly 100 years, has been affectionately called “Berkeley’s Bungalow Church.” In 1912, the architect, James Plachek, moved from San Francisco to open his own office in Berkeley, at the age of 27. That year, he was commissioned for this work, his first in Berkeley, by The North Berkeley Congregational Church. The church was designed in 1912 and construction was completed in 1913, months before World War I would begin. His first church design would put this young architect on the map. Later, in 1931, Plachek would design Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco.
In 1919, the church was featured in The Architect and Engineer. Here, it is said: “The Berkeley Bungalow Church has been extensively copied by other churches in the State. The structure attracts attention because of its symmetry and the simplicity of its surroundings. With its graceful pergola and entrance, the edifice presents a restful, home-like appearance that is at once appealing both to the passer-by and the church attendant. The rigid churchly atmosphere generally prevalent in the more formal structures is noticeably absent.”
This structure has been deemed “classically simple.” The style is derivative of early California missions, but is also influenced by the Berkeley Arts and Crafts movement: “Its modest style of construction exemplifies repose and simplicity rather than splendor…. By not dominating the street scene it settles more graciously into the townscape in a homey way that befits its mission as a neighborhood church ministering to the local community in which it is set.”
As the steps off Walnut Street are climbed, one experiences the entrance as Triune in form. Entering into the Narthex (or atrium), one is met by the beauty of rich, almost majestic, redwood walls. Continuing into the sanctuary, one observes:
The sanctuary is rectilinear (not cruciform) in the New England Congregational tradition, light and open in appearance, and roofed by a truss-beamed, pitched roof with a clerestory. The beams, rafters and truss members together with the window frames, wainscoting and wall panels are polished redwood and create and ambiance of warmth. Six trusses span the interior, matching the six bays outside…. The Church is bilaterally symmetrical and the trussed roof accentuates a feeling of lightness. This lifts the eye skyward to the open beams above as if we stood in a shady stand of California redwoods, peering at the falling shafts of sunlight.
Dr. Francis Violich, Professor emeritus of Landscape Architecture at Berkeley, once said, “Environments transform themselves through human use and activity into places carrying deep, lasting meaning.” This beautiful Berkeley Bungalow Church has housed worshippers for almost 100 years. Under its canopy-like, redwood ceiling, prayers have been offered, songs have been sung, sermons have been preached, baptisms have been received, communion has been dispensed, and God has been met. A sacred space such as this one carries within it a rich history of a God of grace that redeems a people, who then, with grateful hearts, serve one another and their surrounding community.
Host your next event in downtown Berkeley
For rental inquiries please contact Jerry Cambra email@example.com
2138 Cedar Street
Berkeley, CA 94709
Tell a Friend
Do you know someone who might like to visit Christ Church? Use our online tool to automatically send them an email invitation!
Tell a friend