Wells Fargo Bank


2144 Shattuck Avenue map it


designated in 1984

Chamber of Commerce/Wells Fargo Bank

Walter H. Ratcliff, Jr., Architect, 1925–1927
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places

For nearly a half century, this steel frame and concrete structure, clad in brick and terra cotta, was Berkeley’s only “skyscraper.” Walter Ratcliff, highly respected for his fine residences and public buildings throughout Berkeley, designed this Classical Revival commercial tower at the peak of his career. Six ground floor arches were added soon after construction to replace original storefronts. The west wing was designed to accommodate additional stories at a later time, a plan derailed by the Depression.

In 1930, the contested Stanford Axe, on its return to the bank’s vault for safekeeping, was stolen outside the Center Street doors by Stanford students disguised as news reporters and Cal students.

Berkeley Historical Plaque Project

  • Early Wells Fargo branch office, West Berkeley (c.1885), Berkeley Public Library.

  • Wells Fargo Bank under construction (1926), photo Louis L. Stein Collection BAHA Archives.

  • Shattuck Avenue (ca.1940), postcard, BAHA Archives.

  • Center Street (ca. 1928), courtesy Wells Fargo Bank.

More information:
BAHA Chamber of Commerce

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