When Piedmont homeowners drive by Piedmont City Hall during their daily family activities, they may not realize the source of this very unique, and handsome building with its lovely fountain, and appealing and gracious Spanish Mission style influence. Designed by famous architect Albert Farr, it's original design was a combined city hall and fire department with a bell tower (which cleverly doubled as a hose drying tower). Built in 1908, it was the beginning of the circle of creativity in the area. One of the most famous downtown landmarks, the Exedra Arch, was designed by Farr in 1916, and has become an iconic symbol of the city.
Just across from the Arch, at 400 Highland Avenue, is the Piedmont Community Church. This was part of the original design of the heart of the early civic center complex, and built in 1916. It carries on the early theme of Spanish Mission architecture that was very popular at the time. It's arches and towers replicate the theme of both the Excedra Arch and the City Hall, and creates a harmony among the buildings.
Mr. Farr's influence carries far beyond downtown Piedmont. Working with junior partner Joseph Francis Ward, he designed homes in Piedmont which varied from French chateaux to English cottage, to American colonial. Many have been included in designer showcase tours over the years because of their imaginative appeal. They can be found on Glen Alpine, Wildwood, Seaview, and Hampton streets. He has also designed Oakland, San Francisco and Belvedere homes, and interestingly, Jack London's Wolf House in Glen Ellen.
So, when driving by these historic buildings, take a moment to appreciate the history and creativity that surrounds them.
Posted by Bruce Wagg on