Posted in Early Montclair, History, Montclair Tracts

Smith Reserve

Smith Reserve Ad
Smith Reserve Oakland Tribune Yearbook 1926


The Smith Reserve is a subdivision in Montclair and is now known as Piedmont Pines.   It open for sale in May of 1926.  The history of Smith Reserve dates back much longer.

The area is located at the top of  Park Blvd with borders on Shepherd Canyon and Joaquin Miller Park and up to Skyline Blvd.

“Selected years ago By F.M. “Borax” Smith as a private estate”.  Oakland Tribune May 22, 1926.   Smith set this land and another piece of further down on Park Blvd aside for his own private estate.  The land at the top of Dimond Canyon and included two creeks where Smith could hunt and have picnics.  He chose to build his home “Arbor Villa” on land located at Park Blvd between E 22nd and E 28th. Arbor Villa – Oakland Local WIki

In 1919, 25 acres of Smith Reserve was sold to the Oakland-Piedmont Council of the Boy Scouts of America, to be used as a camp for the scouts.  It was called Camp Dimond (more on that later) was in use from 1919-1948.  In 1948 the Oakland Public School district took over the land and built Joaquin Miller Elementary and Montera Junior High Schools.

In May 0f 1926 the Realty Syndicate put the rest of the Smith Reserve on sale.  In that same edition of the Oakland Tribune, it stated by company officials that the  “Smith reserve is the most beautiful tract of land opened by the Syndicate Company”  and is located “east of Sheapard (Shepherd) Canyon, and extends from Smith Lake (Ascot Ct?) near the Boy Scout  Camp to Skyline Blvd”.

Smith Reserve Goes on Sale May 1926

In July of 1926, two months after the subdivision was open the Realty Syndicate reported nearly $250,000 dollars in sales.  It was also reported that a bus transportation system will be put into operation, connecting with both local and San Francisco electric lines. -Oakland Tribune July 18, 1928.

Bus Service to Smith Reserve

Admiring Smith Reserve

In an October 1928 edition of the Oakland Tribune noted actress, Miss Grace Valentine acclaims “Smith Reserve the most beautiful home-park that she had ever seen in the Eastbay”. Miss Valentine was staring at the Fulton Theatre.  In leaving Miss Valentine said  If I were a permanent resident of the Eastbay I would certainly wish to make my home in this beautiful park”  Oakland Tribune October 21, 1928.

 More clippings about Smith Reserve



Please see: Casa Altadena 

Please see:Casa Maria Luisa


I have been an Oakland history buff since going on an Oakland Heritage Alliance Tour of the Fernwood Neighborhood in the Montclair District of Oakland, in the mid-80's. On that tour, I learned that there use to be a train (Sacramento Northern) that ran through Montclair, in the early 1900's and that people lived the area as early as 1860's. I have been hooked ever since. Since then I have spent a lot of time looking into the history of Montclair and I have learned a lot. I feel this will be the best way to get it out of my head and onto paper.

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