Julia Morgan building to be moved across Berkeley

Girton Hall

Girton Hall, designed by Julia Morgan and built in 1911, is being relocated from the Cal campus to the UC Botanical Garden. Photo: Kemi Amin

On Saturday and Sunday a beautiful, landmarked UC Berkeley-owned building will move across town, inching its way slowly from campus on a flat-bed rig up Centennial Drive to its new home at the UC Botanical Garden in Strawberry Canyon.

One part of Girton Hall, designed by famed architect and Cal alumna Julia Morgan and built in 1911, has already made the carefully executed journey. (See video footage and photos of that move.)

The complex relocation will conclude this weekend, with one large oversized section of the structure being transported on Saturday, and the other starting at around 6:00 a.m. on Sunday Jan. 12. The final piece, currently resting on Maxwell Field, will be moved around noon on Sunday. 

Girton interior looking to deck 8-8-2013 12-55-25 PM

Features of Girton Hall include built-in window benches crafted in native redwood. Photo: Kemi Amin

The two-story Girton Hall was built after the Associated Women Students at UC Berkeley asked Morgan to design a small building for their activities. It was sited on a wooded knoll just north of Strawberry Creek, east of what was then College Avenue, and about 500 feet south of the Greek Theatre, whose design Morgan was also intimately involved with. At the time, women were not allowed access to the Senior Men’s Hall or most of the other men’s facilities on campus. The young women staged programs and wrote letters to solicit funds to secure the space.

The building, with its open, vaulted ceiling with wood trusses, built-in benches, monumental brick fireplace, and native materials, was named Girton Hall after the first women’s college at Cambridge University, but by the time it was completed, it was officially known as Senior Women’s Hall. In 1946, the building was moved about 160 feet west, to make room for the Gayley Road extension of Piedmont Avenue. Its name reverted to Girton Hall in 1969 when it was given over to childcare. It has served as a childcare facility since that time but must now be moved to accommodate new space needs on campus, according to UC Berkeley.


The brick fireplace at Girton Hall. Photo: Kemi Amin

Once the different sections of the building are safely deposited, just east of the UC Botanical Garden’s main gate, they will be stitched back together and will reopen as a venue for conferences, exhibits, alumni events, and weddings.

Sunday’s move will start at 6:00 a.m. The garden opens to the public at 9 a.m. and will be accessible via Grizzly Peak Road during the move. Centennial Drive between the garden and near the stadium will be closed to regular traffic. The building is being moved from the southeast corner of the intersection of Gayley Road and Stadium Rimway and will be assembled just south of the garden’s main gate.

In its new location, and returned to public use, Girton Hall will overlook the garden’s native California plant collection, which is in keeping with the original plans for the building which included a large outdoor gathering space, lost when it moved in 1946. Also in this spirit, a 15 ft. wide deck will be added to the newly sited building.

Details of the move are online and will be tweeted over the weekend. Also online is a report that includes historic photos of Girton Hall.

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  • NAParish

    Can you clarify the timing of the move? The third paragraph says the Sunday portion of the move starts at 6 am, but the article says later that the move will occur between 8 and 10:30 on Sunday. Is it the Saturday portion of the move that will occur between 8 and 10:30?

    Also, this doesn’t really count as being moved “across town” — since it’s starting on the east side of the Cal campus and going to the UC Botanical garden.

  • emraguso

    I believe Tracey meant 8 a.m. Sunday (8-10:30). I will check though.

  • Hi NAParish: The original information put out by UC Berkeley was that the Sunday move would happen between 8-10:30 am. That was amended to 6 am. To be sure to have the most up to date info, check the details on the UC Botanical Garden website. http://botanicalgarden.berkeley.edu/whatsnew/GirtonHall/GH.shtml

  • Jonathan Goodrich

    Hi. The movers begin preparation at 6am tomorrow (Sunday, 1/12). However, the move doesn’t happen until around 7:30, with the 3rd (of 4) parts will arriving at the main gate of the Garden as early as 8am (maybe 8:30). The 4th and final part of the building arrives around Noon the same day.