The Turner-Matthews Home

A Timeless Journey Through the Historic Turner-Matthews Home

Nestled among the lush trees lining Codornices Creek in Berkeley, the Turner-Matthews historic home stands as a testament to a bygone era, its walls echoing with the whispers of time and artistic ingenuity. It is not surprising that musicians, artists, and intellectuals have all felt its muse. Hollywood writer, Robert Shaw owned the house for several decades from the 1920s to 1950s, and his guests included novelist D.H. Lawrence and later housed Oppenheimer’s graduate students. The first president of the Hungarian Republic, Count Michael Karolyi, came for dinner and was enticed to stay for a month. The current proprietors, American historians and one a cellist, have found acclaim while writing within these walls. Chamber musicians have performed periodically ensuring music continues to resonate within its walls.

Designed in 1917 by Shirley Turner (an artist and teacher at Anna Head School—now Head Royce) and her brother Steven Matthews, the house encapsulates the spirit of a community where artistic souls often took on the task of designing and constructing their own residences, assisted by the advice of prominent architects who were their fellow members of the Hillside Club. Turner was influenced by the Arts and Crafts aesthetic of the Club’s founders and especially by Bernard Maybeck. The result is a unique dwelling where every room is a testament to creativity. The living room curves gracefully to mirror the topography of the land, skylights and clerestory windows take in the surrounding trees, and storage benches and built-in furnishings create custom vignettes. The carving over the dining room fireplace is believed to be Shirley Turner’s own work. Standing at the heart of the main house, a 15-foot-tall fireplace of local stone (one of four fireplaces on the property) commands attention, surrounded by full-height French windows that open onto a curved balcony. The absence of rectilinear rooms adds to the allure, creating an organic flow that mirrors the landscape. It's a visual spectacle that transcends the boundaries of traditional architecture.

Akin to a magical treehouse, the property comprises two distinct structures—the main house and the cottage (1919)—both adorned with redwood details that weave a rich tapestry in harmony with its surroundings. With three bedrooms and three baths in the main house and two of each in the cottage, the property offers a unique blend of historic charm and modern comfort. Additional bonus rooms, including a hidden library beneath the cottage and a common room on the third floor, add layers to the home's narrative. Thoughtful updates blend seamlessly with the original architecture. Newer tile in the bathrooms repeats the original color palette, and the William Morris-inspired tile above the range was chosen to reflect Ms. Turner’s appreciation for the celebrated 19th-century designer. The upper bedrooms boast unique windows framing breathtaking views, and much of the built-in furniture remains original, preserving the essence of the home's inception. 

Situated across from a protected greenbelt, the home enjoys a harmonious symphony of birdsong and the soothing year-round melodies of Codornices Creek. Stepping onto the grounds a wide pathway paved in river stone leads past established roses, three heritage apple trees, two orange trees, and a Eureka lemon and under the arbor of a stately Live Oak. The mature garden was designed by the well-known Berkeley landscape architect David Bingham in 1996. Decks offer views of the tree canopy and well-kept gardens, inviting residents and guests to immerse themselves in the serenity of nature. Positioned high on a hill, the Turner-Matthews home not only stands as a focal point from the street below but also basks in the embrace of natural light throughout the day.

Floor Plans


North of Downtown and west of the University of California, Berkeley is North Berkeley. This neighborhood is popular among UC students due to the proximity to campus and the vast amenities the location offers. The neighborhood of North Berkeley is the home to two popular parks in the city of Berkeley. The first one is Berkeley Rose Garden. This park features a huge garden with amazing views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay. The other park is Live Oak Park, a wooded area that features recreational fields, playgrounds, and walking trails.

North Berkeley is known for its wide variety of food and drink choices. In town, there are plenty of restaurants and bars to visit, many of them highly rated. Restaurants include Chez Panisse, Grégoire Restaurant, and Revival Bar and Restaurant. 


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Brokers Tour:
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Additional Showings by Appointment:
Contact Mykah Larkins
(510) 520-6692
[email protected]


Mykah Larkins

Realtor® AssociateBerkeley Hills RealtyDRE# 01380576510.524.9888 office510.520.6692

Tracy Sichterman

Berkeley Hills RealtyDRE# 01205767510.520.0076

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