How Quirky is Berkeley? The murals of Cloyne Court

Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey
Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey

Just inside the front door of the Cloyne Court student housing coop is this lovely rendition of Gustav Klimt’s 1907-1908 “The Kiss,” oil and gold leaf on canvas.  Who would not want to come home to this?

BAHA’s Daniella Thompson has written about the history of Cloyne Court. It was designed by John Galen Howard as a hotel and built in 1904. The University Students Cooperative Association purchased the building in 1946, sold it to UC Berkeley in 1970 and has leased it back since then. Thompson’s history, as always, is meticulous and thorough.

Cloyne is a large coop house – 140 residents.  It has been substance-free house since 2014, meaning that the consumption or storage of intoxicating substances is expressly forbidden. It has also been an academic theme house with a Cloyne Academic Theme Charter.  Substance-free and academic theme notwithstanding, there are murals EVERYWHERE.  Even without drugs and without alcohol and with the academic theme, there are murals on almost, not quite all but almost, all walls.

Many are literary, artistic, religious, or popular culture allusions.


Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey
Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey

Toad from Nintendo’s Mario games and franchises.

Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey
Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey

From a manga work by Yumikoko.

Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey
Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey

From The Magic School Bus, a Saturday morning animated children’s television series based on the series of books by Joanna Cole and Bruce Degan.

Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey
Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey

From Frida Kahlo’s “Self Portrait with Necklaces of Thorns.”

Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey
Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey

A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, Act 5, Scene 1.


Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey
Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey

Words attributed to Che Guevara – he may or may not have said them.

Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey
Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey

Matisse, “La Danse,” 1909.

Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey
Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey

Captain Underpants, from a children’s novel series (1997-present) by Dav Pilkey.

Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey
Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey

Maurice Sendak’s 1963 Where the Wild Things Are.

And there are many that are original, or whose allusion I have failed to grasp.


Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey
Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey
Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey
Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey
Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey
Cloyne Court, 2600 Ridge Road. Photo: John Storey

Remember – these are a few of the murals on the first of three floors.   There are many more to photograph at Cloyne, and many more housing coops to visit with murals.  There is no end to quirk on the walls of Cal’s housing coops.

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 8,000 photographs of quirky objects around town as well as posts where the 30-plus-year resident muses on what it all means.

For a fuller version of this post, see Quirky Berkeley.