Berkeley’s 95-year-old Sequoia building is brought down

Demolition began this morning on the Sequoia Building at 2441 Haste Street at the corner of Telegraph Avenue in order to make what remains of the fire-damaged structure safe.

Beginning at the top corner of the five-story building, the brick structure was slowly pulled apart, and bricks, window frames and metal balconies cascaded to the ground (see raw video, by Tracey Taylor, above).

The building, which was built in 1916, will be brought down to a height of 29.5 feet at which point the remaining structure will be reinforced. At that point fire investigators will be able to begin an inspection to try to determine the cause of the November 18th fire, and the currently closed intersection will be re-opened for vehicle and pedestrian traffic. The Berkeley fire marshall has committed the building’s owners, Kenneth and Gregory Ent, to leaving a 25-ft radius intact around the elevator mechanical room, which is where the fire is believed to have originated.

By Tuesday afternoon much of the top level of the building had been demolished — as the photo below shows.

The City of Berkeley expects the “Make Safe” demolition is to be completed by December 5th.

Local Telegraph Avenue merchants have been affected by the disruption and street closures. Councilmember Kriss Worthington told Berkeleyside he plans to bring an item to the City Council asking that parking in the immediate area be free in order to encourage shoppers to patronize local businesses.

Demolition began on the corner of the Sequoia Building. By mid-afternoon Tuesday much of the top of the building was gone. Photo: Ira Serkes

Sequoia: Demolition imminent as tenants meet to complain [11.28.11]
Shop Telegraph: Help area recover from fire say officials [11.25.11]
The Sequoia Building: At heart of Berkeley’s rich heritage [11.23.11]
End of the road for an historic building? [11.22.11]
Friday’s fire “another hit in the face” for Telegraph Avenue [11.21.11]
“Largest fire since 1991″ leaves many locals homeless [11.19.11]
Devastating fire in apartment building, Haste at Telegraph [11.19.11]

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  • Heather W.

    Thanks Ira for taking pictures of the demolition. It makes me very sad, but at least there will be a documentation of it. 

  • GPO

    I’m surprised that no Occupy Sequoia movement, perhaps led by our old agent provocateur, Running-Wolf, did not try to “House Sit” and block the speedy demolition of this historic structure!

  • Completely Serious

    Aided and abetted by his co-enabler, Kriss “All Landlords are Evil” Worthington.  

  • Anonymous

    Thanks, Heather.

    I stopped by the day before to create a 360º view using photosynth (free iPhone App)

    Scroll to the bottom to see my disembodied foot.


  • Babspmalone

    I hope they documented the fire escape complaints. Ladders stopped at the second floor .. This could have been the Triangle shirtwaist fire all over again

  • Voxhumana

    Of course in that tragic fire, I believe the exits were blocked by the employers.