National Register of Historic Places in Alameda County
This Tudor Revival building was designed by architect Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr., one of several influential architects, including Julia Morgan and Bernard Maybeck, who gave Berkeley its distinctive look.
Mr. Ratcliff (1881-1973) designed schools, firehouses, churches, commercial buildings and several hundred houses in the East Bay from 1901 to 1940. His buildings show eclectic influences: First Bay Tradition, Arts and Crafts, Spanish Mission Revival, and various vernacular styles. A consistent theme in his designs was the blending of indoors and outdoors.
The Berkeley Day Nursery has many details typical of the Ratcliff style: half-timbered Tudor construction, a roof gabled to suggest thatch, a row of dormer windows, a central mullioned window in a front gable, brick steps leading to a brick porch topped by a gabled roof.
When designing a building, Mr. Ratcliff consulted books on European architecture to copy details from different countries and different periods into a single building. This sounds surprisingly similar to the way MacMansions and Frankenhouses are designed today - some Palladio here, some French Empire there, and lots and lots of columns everywhere. Somehow, Mr. Ratcliff had the wit and taste and restraint to create charming buildings with this mix and match approach.
Ratcliff also designed National Register Listing 85001916: The Chamber of Commerce Building in Berkeley.