National Register of Historic Places in Alameda County
Garfield Intermediate School was part of a 1915 building program initiated by the City of Berkeley. Five prominent bay area architects designed five schools, to be built on a limited budget.
Garfield Intermediate School is a one-story rectangular building in the Spanish Colonial Revival style designed by Ernest Coxhead. The simple façade belies the serene beauty of its interior. Classrooms around the periphery open onto wide arcaded corridors with vaulted ceilings. Two sunny enclosed courtyards designed to serve as outdoor classrooms are located beyond the corridors. The courtyards are separated by a 400-seat auditorium which opens onto them through large French windows. Friezes of bundled laurel leaves and smiling cherubic faces ornament the classical entrances to the building.
Garfield Intermediate School is a fine early example of the California outdoor school. Many Californians felt that the state's benevolent climate called for a more open school plan than was traditionally accepted. The sunny sheltered courtyards and cool arched walkways of Garfield School provide a tranquil atmosphere conducive to thought and study, to California weather, openness and pleasant sun protection. The light and airy auditorium opens onto the courtyards through large French windows and the classroom windows can be opened wide to let the outdoors in.
Garfield School has been called the most sophisticated version of the outdoor school in Northern California at the time of its construction.
In 1981 the Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center moved into the building and purchased it from the Berkeley Unified School District in 1987.