Plaque

Berkeley Community Theatre

DOWNTOWN

1930 Allston Way map it

CITY OF BERKELEY LANDMARK

designated in 1992

FLORENCE SCHWIMLEY LITTLE THEATER, 1948
BERKELEY HIGH SCHOOL COMMUNITY THEATER, 1939-1950

Henry H. Gutterson and William Corlett, Sr., Architects
Jacques Schnier and Robert Howard, Sculptors

This theater complex, together with the Industrial Arts Building and the Science Building, is a part of Berkeley High School’s outstanding Art Deco ensemble of structures that was designed in the late 1930s. World War II halted the Community Theater. Its exposed steel frame, nicknamed “the bird cage,” stood unfinished for over a decade. The 3500-seat Community Theater was the largest and most modern performing arts facility west of the Rockies.

Huge bas-reliefs accentuate the spare geometric architecture. Six allegorical figures representing the arts flank the theater’s main entrance in the courtyard. Two heralds and a deeply carved relief several stories high adorn the Allston Way facade. Over the years, many notable speakers and performing artists have appeared in these theaters.

Berkeley Historical Plaque Project
2000


  • Community Theater (2010), photo R. Kehlmann.

  • Drama, Dance, Music bas-relief (2010), photo R. Kehlmann.

  • Poetry, Sculpture, Painting bas-relief (2010), photo R. Kehlmann.

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