Hillside Elementary School

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Hillside School
Hillside School (Berkeley, CA).JPG
Buena Vista Way entrance, Hillside School
Hillside Elementary School is located in Oakland, California
Hillside Elementary School
Hillside Elementary School is located in California
Hillside Elementary School
Hillside Elementary School is located in the US
Hillside Elementary School
Location1581 Le Roy Ave., Berkeley, California
Coordinates37°52′51″N 122°15′32″W / 37.8809°N 122.2589°W / 37.8809; -122.2589Coordinates: 37°52′51″N 122°15′32″W / 37.8809°N 122.2589°W / 37.8809; -122.2589
Area0.2 acres (0.081 ha)
ArchitectWalter H. Ratcliff
Architectural styleTudor Revival
NRHP reference #82000961[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPOctober 29, 1982
Designated BERKLJune 21, 1982[2]
Hillside School Aerial from south
Hillside School hallway 2nd floor
Detail from original blueprints
Hillside School water fountain
Hillside School Auditorium Windows

Hillside Elementary School is a former public elementary school in the hills of Berkeley, California, at 1581 Le Roy Avenue, bordered by Le Roy Avenue, Buena Vista Way and La Loma Avenue.

In 2012, the Berkeley Unified School District sold it to the German International School of Silicon Valley (GISSV), which used it for their Berkeley campus until 2017—then vacating it because of earthquake safety concerns, and selling it to a private individual in 2018. Hillside School is registered as a local historic landmark. In 1982 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places (#82000961).[3]


Hillside first opened in the Fall of 1901 on the nearby southwest corner of Le Roy Avenue and Virginia Street.[4][5] This first Hillside, constructed under the auspices of the newly formed Hillside Club,[6] for the Berkeley Public Schools, was one of the hundreds of structures that was destroyed by the 1923 Berkeley fire. The school was temporarily relocated, from late 1923 until August 1926, to the University School (1414 Walnut Street) while a new school building was constructed.

The Berkeley School District built the present structure in 1925 on the site of several homes that were destroyed by the same fire that destroyed the original Hillside. It was designed by prominent Berkeley architect Walter H. Ratcliff.

A major seismic retrofit was made in the 1930s and an additional wing added in 1964-65. The 1930s work included upgrades pursuant to the Field Act which resulted from the 1933 Long Beach earthquake. The building is landmarked for the degree to which it is intact, along with the quality of both architectural design and construction.

In the early 1970s, Hillside became a primary school (K-3) as part of a district-wide re-organization.

In 1983, the school district closed Hillside[7] because of a declining school age population, and because it sits near or on the Hayward Fault. The Berkeley Montessori School (since renamed The Berkeley School) and the Berkeley Chess School leased part of the site. In 2012, the German International School (GISSV) purchased the site from the Berkeley Unified School district and operated classes.

In December 2016, the GISSV closed the building, due to unmet seismic retrofit needs.[8] Diggings nearby show the fault may be braided in the area, and an active fault trace below the building cannot be ruled out.

Throughout, area residents have used Hillside's playground as a de facto neighborhood park since it was constructed.

BUSD Principals[edit]

  • Clara. G. Potwin, 1901-1907 (d.1907)
  • Jeannette Barrows, 1907-1937 (d.1945)
  • Eugenie E. Jackson, 1937-1943
  • Helen B. Maslin, 1943-1959 (d.1963)
  • Theodore F. Blitz, 1959-1973 (d.1993)
  • Frank L. Fisher, 1973-1978
  • Kathryne L. Favors, 1978-1981 (d.2008)
  • Marian K. Altman, 1981-1983

Some recent dates[edit]

  • In 2009, with sale of the site to a housing developer pending, local residents proposed a special assessment district to fund purchase of the playground section of the site.[9]
  • In June 2011 the District signed a preliminary purchase agreement with the non-profit German International School of Silicon Valley[10]
  • In July 2012, work began on the restoration of Hillside. The old concrete walkway, which had buckled and cracked was, removed and new concrete laid down. The brick steps of the old Kindergarten entrance were replaced with concrete. A deteriorated temporary building, which had been situated on the old Kindergarten playground since the early 1970s, was removed.
  • The German International School held its first classes at Hillside August 13, 2012.
  • In early 2016, the original slate shingles were replaced by new slate shingles, and the original copper gutters which had been vandalized and stolen were also replaced.
  • In early 2016 a new historically accurate slate roof was completed, along with new gutters and downspouts.
  • in December 2016 the building was vacated because of safety concerns.[11]
  • In 2018, the German School sold the property to Samuli Seppälä who plans to use it for a residence, makerspace and artist studios.

Movie Set[edit]

Hillside stood in as an English mansion in the 2012 movie The Master. Filming took place during June 2011.[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ "Berkeley Landmarks". Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association. Retrieved 2013-03-04.
  3. ^ berkeleyheritage.com
  4. ^ History of the Berkeley Public Schools, Cowan, 1918, Internet Archives
  5. ^ National Landmark Application
  6. ^ The shrinking legacy of Volney D. Moody and his heirs, Daniella Thompson, BAHA, 2008
  7. ^ Minutes, School Board Meeting, May 4, 1983
  8. ^ Taylor, Tracey (2016-12-07). "Future uncertain for Berkeley school due to unsafe building". Berkeleyside. Retrieved 2017-02-16.
  9. ^ City Manager's Office (2009-03-24). "Findings for Acquisition of 1581 Leroy (Hillside School)" (PDF). City Council Packet. City of Berkeley. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
  10. ^ School Board Agenda (PDF) http://www.berkeley.net/uploads/school_board/2011spring/06-29-11_packet.pdf. Missing or empty |title= (help).
  11. ^ Taylor, Tracey (2016-12-07). "Future uncertain for Berkeley school due to unsafe building". Berkeleyside. Retrieved 2017-02-16.
  12. ^ Taylor, Tracey (June 27, 2011). "Paul Thomas Anderson shoots new movie in Berkeley". BerkeleySide.com. Retrieved July 3, 2011.
  13. ^ "Finding filming sites in Bay Area is just the beginning of this job", Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle, July 17, 2013

External links[edit]