Discovering Great Mormon Buildings

Claremont Ward Lobby

2334 Stuart Street
Berkeley, CA
Architect: Possibly Leslie Dean Price (He designed the Overlook chapel in Walnut Creek – a similar looking building)
Dedicated 1955. Renamed Oakland 5th Ward in 1965. Ward dissolved in 1970 and sold to a Christian church – possibly the Unification Church (Moonies). Sold to Hare Krishna’s several years after this.
Now the New Jagannatha Puri (ISKCON Berkeley Hare Krishna Temple)
Click for Map Location of Building

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4 responses

  1. Jim W.

    I’m not sure I can confirm everything, but here’s what I know. Although this has a Berkeley address, this is the old Oakland Fifth Ward of the Oakland-Berkeley Stake (now Oakland California Stake), previously known as the Diamond Ward. The Diamond Ward goes back to the 1930s, if not earlier, so this must have been a replacement building for that ward. I remember attending a youth event in the early 1970s here. Urbanization and suburban flight led to declining ward membership and the Oakland Fifth Ward was dissolved in the early 1970s, its members split between the Berkeley and Oakland First Wards.

    The building may have been empty for a couple of years after the ward was dissolved. As I recall, the first sale was to the Unification Church (the “Moonies”). As noted, the building later became a Hare Krishna temple.

    May 3, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    • Fabulous! Thanks for the great info, Jim. I’ll change the names for these posts to Diamond Ward since I’m trying to match the ward name with when the building was built. You don’t happen to remember much about the building layout do you? I can’t seem to figure out which large space was the Cultural Hall and which was the Chapel. There are currently two doors directly from the main entry lobby into a large room that looks and feels like the Cultural Hall, but typically the lobby has a more direct link to the Chapel, so I’m unsure.

      May 4, 2011 at 7:41 pm

      • Jim W.

        I don’t remember a thing about the layout. Sorry. But I do have some additional information from an informed friend: “Looking at the historical materials I have, the building was dedicated in 1955 and the original ward it housed was the Claremont Ward. In 1965, the Claremont Ward was renamed to be the Oakland Fifth Ward, which was then dissolved in 1970. The facade of the building is similar to the Overlook chapel [in Walnut Creek], so I am guessing that they were designed by the same architect.”

        Please use Claremont Ward for the caption, as this was the name when the building was built. The Diamond Ward is an even older name I must have heard from old-timers.

        May 4, 2011 at 7:56 pm

      • Sounds good. I wasn’t able to get pictures of the Overlook chapel when I was last visiting the area, but I know that the architect for that building was Leslie Dean Price. I agree that the entry is quite similar between the two, so it is quite possible he may have done both buildings. Thanks again for your assistance.

        May 4, 2011 at 8:50 pm

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