American Photoplayer Co., Cooper Woodworking Buildings
CITY OF BERKELEY LANDMARKdesignated in 1986
COOPER WOODWORKING BUILDINGS
Over the years this complex housed Cooper Woodworking, the Sperry Flour Company, the American Photoplayer Company, and other industrial and manufacturing enterprises. American Photoplayer manufactured a musical instrument that produced mechanical music “like an orchestra” for use in movie theaters. The company went out of business in the late 1902s when “talkies” were introduced. An elevated sawdust hopper (removed in 1995) and brick kilns were part of the complex. Lumber was once milled and kiln-dried on the site. Scrap wood was recycled as fuel to fire the kilns and heat the complex.
These industrial buildings are among the few that were constructed in Berkeley along the spur line of the Santa Fe Railroad that was laid in 1903. Most industry was concentrated west of San Pablo Avenue, closer to Berkeley’s waterfront and the transcontinental Southern Pacific Railroad. In 1987 the complex was renovated and adapted for reuse as the Strawberry Creek Design Center, providing studios and offices for designers, artists, and creative ventures.
Berkeley Historical Plaque Project