Real estate

Berkeley’s biggest estate, mansion up for sale

If you’re peering at the photo above and thinking Beverly Hills, or perhaps the Cote d’Azur, think again. This imposing Beaux Arts property on three-plus acres is right here in Berkeley. And it’s for sale.

The John Hopkins Spring Estate, commonly known as the Spring Mansion, is so big it boasts three addresses — 1960 San Antonio Avenue, 1984 San Antonio Avenue, and 639 Arlington Avenue — and, as well as the principal mansion which comes in at 12,000 square feet, includes a three-bedroom home. The estate is owned by  investment group Monument Properties 5 LLC which has divided it into four parcels but is hoping to sell the whole shebang for $6,495,000. Monument bought the estate in August 2005 for $6.3 million.

The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Assocation describes the property as one of the largest residential parcels in the city and it was modeled after Empress Elisabeth of Austria’s Achillion Palace in Corfu. The mansion was designed by John Hudson Thomas with interiors showing a mix of influences, such as Vienna Secessionist, Arts & Crafts and Egyptian style.

The house was built in 1912 for entrepreneur John Hopkins Spring who wore many professional hats. His achievements include creating San Francisco’s first department store, City of Paris in Union Square; and laying out the subdivisions that would become the city of Albany, Thousand Oaks and the  Solano Avenue shopping district. Spring was also an early investor in the Claremont Hotel.

As BAHA reports, the  estate was sold in late 1917 to the educator Cora L. Williams, who established what would later be named Williams College, a tony elementary and secondary school known for its focus on languages, poetry, music, and literature. In 1975, the property was bought by real-estate investor Larry Leon as his personal home and it next changed hands in 2005. It was designated a City of Berkeley Landmark in 2000.

Listing agent Robin Gaskins said: “The owners are selling  because they have other, faster-paced projects they need to focus on.”  She added that, should the entire property not sell within about a month, it will be offered as four separate parcels. The principal one with the mansion would list for $4.95m; a lot that includes a three-bedroom home “in need of work” would have an asking price of $675,000; and two further vacant lots would list for $450,000 each. One of these includes a small dwelling but it is effectively derelict, Gaskins said.

The Spring estate, which will have its first open house on Sunday July 11, will be the most expensive property on the market in Berkeley. Number two in that ranking is the $4.2 million home at 1530 Grizzly Peak Boulevard which came on the market two months ago.

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  • EBGuy

    Paging Mitch Kapor…

  • Diane

    Good lord that’s hideous. Imposing it might be, but taste it has not.

  • Name Withheld

    @ Diane – I wonder how you feel about the mansions in Newport? Just because something isn’t your style doesn’t make it tasteless.

    http://www.newportmansions.org/