The development of Greenwood Common began in 1903 with the construction of a summerhouse by John Galen Howard for the prominent San Francisco attorney Warren Gregory and his wife Sadie. After World War II, the area became home to a growing number of professionals, particularly those associated with the University. Among these new residents were the architect William Wurster, newly appointed dean of the UC, Berkeley, School of Architecture, and his wife Catherine Bauer Wurster, city planner, educator, and author.
In 1951, Wurster began negotiations with Sadie Gregory for the purchase of her lot on Greenwood Terrace. His intent was to subdivide and develop this parcel of land and to design a house on one of the lots for his family. Wurster envisioned a development that would combine an idealistic sense of community with a modernist design aesthetic and an awareness of regional traditions. He wanted a property that could be subdivided and developed as a community that reflected his and Catherine’s philosophy of socially engaged architecture -- that “a community defined by a group of homes could influence the way their owners lived.”
Greenwood Common is a large open green space that borders on Greenwood Terrace and provides a glorious view of the bay and the golden gate in the distance. Initially the shared space was to be only the biomorphic oval on the west end between numbers 10 and 7, but the center lot that was expected to have two homes was never developed. Given the slop of the site, the houses on the north side are two stories, and those on the south are single stories.
Text by Waverly Lowell