Structure Type: built works - dwellings - houses

Designers: Ballantine, John Knox, Jr., Architect (firm); John Knox Ballantine Jr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1931

2 stories, total floor area: 2,675 sq. ft.

1555 La Vereda Road
Berkeley Hills, Berkeley, CA 94708

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Building History

Well-known University of Calfiornia, Berkeley (UCB), geologist Andrew Cowper Lawson (1861-1952) erected this house for his second wife, Isabel, who did not like his previous "Pompeiian villa" designed by the Berkeley architect, Bernard Maybeck (1862-1957). While in his 70s, Lawson worked on the construction of this 3-bedroom, 2.5-bath house. It contained 2,125 square feet.

Isabel Lawson was 30 in 1940, while Andrew was 78. She was the daughter of a Canadian colleague who lived in Ottawa.

Lawson asked a neighbor, architect John Knox Ballantine, Jr., to design this residence. Aside from the specific technical specifications probably supplied by the professor, the architect produced a romantic English Country or French Provincial design, exemplified by the tower topped with a candle-snuffer roof and the jerkinhead gable covering the main portion of the house.

Building Notes

The exterior of the house exposed the concrete framing supporting the house. Red-brown glazed tiles were used for wall infill, largely for their fire-resistant qualities. Lawson wanted his house resistant to earthquakes and capable of withstanding hillside fires, like the devastating one of 1923, that plagued the Berkeley Hills.

The Lawson House #3 also cotained a rear cottage set amidst a pond and landscaped grounds. The lot contained 12, 934-square feet.

In 2014, the Lawson House #3 had an asking price of $1,095,000.


Isabel Lawson requested the addition of a "picture room," located off the living room. It may have been constructed in 1939. (A large-scale renovation or addition occurred in that year.) The original terra cotta-colored tile walls, have, in some rooms, been covered over in later years.

Alameda County Assessor Number: 58-2242-103

PCAD id: 19888