“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Berkeley in Alameda County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

The Kelsey Ranch

Berkeley History

The Kelsey Ranch Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, April 19, 2012
1. The Kelsey Ranch Marker
[Photo caption:]
Stuart Street, around 1892, looking east from College Avenue. The Kelsey property and orchard are on the right.
Inscription.  On a once rural site now bordered by Russell Street, College Avenue, and Stuart Street, the Kelsey family planted orchards and grew ornamental plants on land they purchased in 1860. The 24-acre Kelsey Ranch supplied trees and plants for the grounds of the new University of California campus as well as the elms which later gave the Elmwood neighborhood its name.

The land was subdivided after John Kelsey’s death in 1880 and new streets, including Cherry, Kelsey, and Hazel (now a part of Piedmont Avenue) were laid out. The construction of a streetcar line on College Avenue in 1903, and Berkeley’s rapid growth following the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, spurred Kelsey Tract development. In 1906 a cluster of brown shingle houses on Palm Court was connected with a public path and stairway to what is now Avalon Court, where a private water company had built a reservoir on the hilltop.

By the 1920s the neighborhood was largely developed. Some out-buildings and portions of structures from the original ranch were reused as parts of small homes. Larger and grander new homes were designed by prominent architects.
Erected 2000 by Berkeley Historical Plaque Project.
Topics. This historical marker
The Kelsey Ranch Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Barry Swackhamer, April 19, 2012
2. The Kelsey Ranch Marker
The marker is visible to the right of the roadway.
Click or scan to see
this page online
is listed in these topic lists: Horticulture & ForestryNotable Places. A significant historical year for this entry is 1860.
Location. 37° 51.52′ N, 122° 15.059′ W. Marker is in Berkeley, California, in Alameda County. Marker is at the intersection of Russell Street and Piedmont Avenue on Russell Street. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2801 Russell Street, Berkeley CA 94705, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Bill's Trading Post and Gem Gallery (about 700 feet away, measured in a direct line); Strand (Elmwood) Theater (approx. 0.2 miles away); Berkeley Repertory Theatre: Original Location (1968) (approx. 0.2 miles away); Star Grocery (approx. 0.3 miles away); Claremont Court Gate and Street Markers (approx. 0.3 miles away); Claremont Public Improvements (approx. 0.3 miles away); John Muir School (approx. 0.3 miles away); Clark Kerr Campus (approx. 0.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Berkeley.
Additional commentary.
1. The Kelseys
Near the turn of the century the Stein Block was constructed at the southwest corner of Walnut and Vine. Built by North Berkeley's first butcher, it has since been metamorphosed into "Walnut Square". Another block up the street, at the SW corner of Vine and Oxford, was the home and offices of Dr John Edson Kelsey. Kelsey was the
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son of John T. Kelsey who had come to the area in 1852. The elder Kelsey was an orchardist and nurseryman of wide repute, and had furnished many of the shrubs and trees with which the trustees of the College of California had planted to adorn its intended site. He is also credited with having introduced raspberries into the state of California. John T. married Harriet Carmichael and built a house in Berkeley in 1860 on what is now Kelsey Street. Kelsey served on the Oakland City Council in 1853, making him a Carpentier appointee, and was one of the founding fathers of the Berkeley Presbyterian Church, in 1878. The Kelseys had five children, the youngest of which was John E. Another son, Harry, was a pharmacist in Berkeley, the man who has been credited with starting Berkeley's public library. Harry was also superintendent of streets for a time. It was Doctor John E., at his Vine Street clinic, who supervised the birth of the son of the builder of the Stein Block, the yet to be venerable Louis Stein.
Source: A History of Berkeley, Chapter 9.
    — Submitted April 26, 2012.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on April 21, 2012, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 678 times since then and 39 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on April 21, 2012, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 29, 2022