How Quirky is Berkeley? Kingman Hall’s quirky murals

Quirky Berkeley 05-12-16
The toad mural on the garage door at Kingman Hall. Photo: John Storey

I went to Kingman Co-Op at 1730 La Loma Ave. on graduation weekend to photograph the front door for a post-in-progress about painted doors. On the way to the door, I found this wonderful toad mural on the garage door.

Read more from Tom Dalzell on Berkeleyside.

The door I wanted to photograph, though, was blocked by a chalkboard with the history of Kingman Hall on it.

Daniella Thompson has written a detailed history of Kingman Hall,  The brief history is: built in 1914 for Theta Xi fraternity, fraternity disbands in 1964, functions as “Toad Hall” rooming house 1964-1969, rooming house with new owner 1969-1973, Ken Keyes Jr. and his Berkeley Living Love Center 1973-1977, and since 1977, the Berkeley Student Cooperative.  It’s all on the chalkboard.


Quirky Berkeley 05-12-16
Kingman Hall: The history is on the chalkboard. Photo: John Storey
Quirky Berkeley in Berkeley, Calif., is seen on May 12th, 2016.
Quirky Berkeley paid a visit to Kingman Hall in May. Stephen Whiting, a December grad, was back to attend the graduation of friends. Photo: John Storey

But the chalkboard was in the way of the door. Stephen Whiting, a December graduate back in town for the graduations of friends, was standing at the front door. We asked if we could move the chalkboard. He helped us move it.

Quirky Berkeley 05-12-16
Kingman Hall now houses the Berkeley Student Cooperative, since 1977. Photo: John Storey

And there is the door, with the butterfly that is on Whiting’s shirt.

 Kingman Hall, 1730 La Loma Avenue. Photo: John Storey
The butterfly logo is a recurrent theme at Kingman Hall. Photo: John Storey

And the butterfly on the gate on the north end of the property.

Whiting asked if we wanted to see the murals inside the house. I was hesitant, but he ignored my reluctance and insisted that we go in. We did, and we saw many of the murals inside the house, painted by students living there over the years. Nearby Cloyne Hall is known for its murals, but Kingman has nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to murals.

Kingman Hall, 1730 La Loma Avenue. Photo: John Storey
A mural painted by students at Kingman Hall, 1730 La Loma. Photo: John Storey

This is a tribute to All My Friends Are Dead by Avery Monsen and Jory John, published in 2010.

Kingman Hall, 1730 La Loma Avenue. Photo: John Storey
David Bowie is remembered in these paintings by Maddy Covey at Kingman Hall. Photo: John Storey

Madeyln “Maddy” Covey painted the murals of David Bowie when she lived at Kingman. She is now an artist in Emeryville/Oakland.

Kingman Hall, 1730 La Loma Avenue. Photo: John Storey
Student murals at Kingman Hall. Photo: John Storey
Kingman Hall, 1730 La Loma Avenue. Photo: John Storey
Student murals at Kingman Hall. Photo: John Storey
Kingman Hall, 1730 La Loma Avenue. Photo: John Storey
Artwork at Kingman Hall. Photo: John Storey
Kingman Hall, 1730 La Loma Avenue. Photo: John Storey.
Artwork at Kingman Hall. Photo: John Storey.
Kingman Hall, 1730 La Loma Avenue. Photo: John Storey
Artwork at Kingman Hall. Photo: John Storey
Kingman Hall, 1730 La Loma Avenue. Photo: John Storey
Artwork at Kingman Hall. Photo: John Storey
Kingman Hall, 1730 La Loma Avenue. Photo: John Storey
Pink Floyd album covers are among the murals at Kingman Hall. Photo: John Storey
Kingman Hall, 1730 La Loma Avenue. Photo: John Storey
Artwork at Kingman Hall. Photo: John Storey

The one place that I didn’t see in the house that I wanted to see was the “Guru Room” on the lowest floor.

Kingman Hall, 1730 La Loma Avenue. Photo: John Storey
The door to the “Guru Room” at Kingman Hall. Photo: John Storey

This is the door to the room where (1) perhaps the fraternity did the hazing that got it disbanded, and (2) Ken Keyes Jr. lived when the house was the Living Love Center in the 1970s. The co-op member with the most co-op points gets to live in the room. I didn’t see the inside. Maybe some day? Or – maybe I don’t want to? Scary? Maybe not. Mady Cohen lived in the room, which they called the Guru room. She describes it as “all beautiful carved wood with built in incense burners, Buddhas, green tile, and tall windows.” So maybe not scary.

Walking through Kingman was like drinking from a high-pressure fire hose. The murals, yes, but also the spirit of youth stirring. This was not very different at all from the scenes of my youth, 50 years ago. It seemed a tad chaotic and Oh-My-God-Why-Don’t-They-Clean-the-Bathrooms and all that, but, still, through it all, Youth called, Youth on a path not unlike the paths we chose 50 years ago,

Tom Dalzell, a labor lawyer, created a website, Quirky Berkeley, to share all the whimsical objects he has captured with his iPhone. The site now has more than 8,600 photographs of quirky objects around town as well as posts where the 30-year resident muses on what it all means.

A longer and more idiosyncratic version of this post may be found at Quirky Berkeley.