"Bill's Trading Post"/Cianciaruto Building

BERKELEY e-PLAQUE

“Bill’s Trading Post”/Cianciaruto Building

W. Smith, Architect / Builder, 1923
2945 College Ave: B. Cianciaruto Building/“Bill’s Trading Post”

Bill Gulley started “Bill’s Model Shoe Shop” here after his previous business enterprise—illicit liquor bootlegging—ended with the repeal of Prohibition in 1934. Penniless and unemployed, Gulley borrowed money from his aunt to launch the new business. When he died in 1966 his daughter, Mary Jane (“Peggy”) Casey, and her daughters created Bill’s Trading Post, as well as the adjacent Gem Gallery. The business became nationally known for its handcrafted Native American jewelry and art as well as its support of Native American causes, including the protest occupation of Alcatraz Island in 1969. Mary Jane Casey (1925-2017) was a leading Berkeley businesswoman and a President of the Elmwood Merchants Association.

Louisiana-born Alfred William Smith was a prolific builder of residential and commercial properties in early Oakland and Berkeley. This one-story building follows the pattern of the two-block long Elmwood commercial district, with three traditional inset storefronts and clerestory windows above. The unusual and original white brick and tile exterior is glazed, not painted.

 

Berkeley Historical Plaque Project, 2017


  • Paul and Peggy Casey, 1979.

  • College Ave, 1975 Street Fair.

  • Elmwood Street Fair, 2013, photo courtesy Casey Family

  • Peggy’s father, Bill Gulley, when the store was “Bill’s Model Shoe Store “. Circa 1940’s

  • Bill’s Trading Post & Gem Gallery “2015” 2

Photo credit abbreviations:
BAHA: Berkeley Architectural Heritage Assn.
BHS: Berkeley Historical Society