Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center – Berkeley CA

Description

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Building was originally constructed for the federal Farm Credit Administration, an agency created by the early New Deal to provide credit to farmers in difficulty and to stimulate investment in the farm sector.

It was built between 1938 and 194o, hence started by the Procurement Division of the Treasury Department (which handled federal buildings at the time) and completed by the Public Buildings Administration in the reorganized Federal Works Administration (most of the same staff transferred over to the new administration in the 1939 federal reorganization).

The six-story Moderne-style building was designed by noted Berkeley architect, James Plachek.  The building consists of two towers, with a middle section. There are steps and a concrete archway leading to the main entrance of the building on the east side. An entrance was also built on the west side in anticipation of the creation of a Berkeley Civic Center park.

The building housed other federal financial agencies when it opened, such as the western regional Federal Land Bank. The California Farm Bureau also had an office there, demonstrating the close relationship between the Farm Bureau and New Deal farm policy (for better or worse).

The City of Berkeley acquired the building in 1977 for its city hall, which was later renamed the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center.  It was completely renovated in 1999 and is a designated Berkeley landmark. 

 

 

Source notes

Smith, Harvey. Berkeley and the New Deal. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Books. 2014.

Historic marker on the building

 

Project originally submitted by Shaina Potts on April 23, 2010.
Additional contributions by Richard A Walker.

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Location Info


2180 Milvia Street
Berkeley, CA 94704

Coordinates: 37.869471, -122.270776

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