It was a year ago last week that we learned of the death of Deward Hastings, a man whose name was not widely known but whose property has been visited by thousands of in-the-know East Bay residents for nearly 50 years.
Hastings was mostly just known as "the hot tub guy," and in the backyard of his house on Essex Street in Berkeley was a semi-public, extra-hot hot tub where nudity, total silence, and respect for women were the strict rules. That hand-built wooden hot tub still stands at 2133 Essex Street, and the house has now hit the market for $899,000, as Berkeleyside first reported.
"Welcome to the Berkeley Hot Tub house," the Corcoran listing reads. "It was a silent retreat sanctuary space, made freely available to women who respected the space and the men they invited as guests. It was an oasis of peace and calm that made city life bearable for so many, for so long."
So long, indeed. As Hastings told the Chronicle over two decades ago, he first installed the hot tub in 1975 after falling in love with hot springs while backpacking around the world. And for 47 years he kept it clean, and very hot, installing a passcode entry system based on phone numbers at his property's side gate in the 80s — after, he said, too many incidents with drunken frat bros and the homeless coming in at all hours.
Then, in mid-September 2022, a hot tub patron arrived to find Hastings dead at age 78, doing the thing he loved most, soaking.
The two-bedroom, one-bath home has now been cleaned out and put on the market, and the listing photos show it both empty and "staged" — apparently through the use of software — with computer-generated furnishings. Asking price: $899,000.
The 1906-constructed homes has plenty of original built-ins and wood-paneling, and as the listing notes, it's just two blocks from the Ashby BART station.
And, as you can see, the hot tub still stands, under an overhang in the rear yard, awaiting its next caretaker.