1857 – 1888: Ellis A Haines purchased the property from the Peralta’s
In 1888, Frederick C. Talbot of the San Francisco lumber firm of Pope & Talbot purchased 133- acres from Ellis A. Haines in Elmhurst near San Leandro and adjacent to the Souhter Farm ( now the Dunsmuir Home) for $15,000.
Depending on who wrote it or what you read, the total acreage seems to change. Above you will see in one clipping has the entire area as “133- acres “and, in the other, it as “153 -acres.” It has been as high as 453 acres. I have always understood it to be the same land that both the Oakland Zoo and Knowland Park, but who really knows?
Nestled in the hills surrounded by the choicest fruits and flowers, “Edenvale,” as the name suggests, is a veritable paradise.
The estate was 140-acres (different acreage) of fertile land used for farming and orchards. 60 acres were planted with almonds, cherries, oranges, walnuts, lemons, prunes, apricots, peaches, and olives. 80 acres of choice farming land.
The garden was laid out with rare trees and a variety of plants and lighted pathways. There was a large pond with a bridge the crossed it. The pond was large enough for a small rowboat.
The main house was a modern elegant colonial structure of 12 rooms, with 4 baths running water and gas throughout. It Burned down in 1921.
There was a large modern stable, a greenhouse, servants quarters. There was a home for the caretaker, which is still standing today. A brooder for chickens and pen for pigs. Oakland Tribune Mar 22, 1902
Barn Burns –
Talbot Farm for Sale
R.C. “Cliff” Durant Purchases Estate
Durant purchases the Talbot estate “Edenvale.” The estate comprised of 470-acres (different acreage) and sold for $200,000.
The above says “478-acres” and below says “200-acres”.
A Map showing the location of R.C Durants/F.C. Talbots Mansion
The Estate Becomes A Park
In 1929 the city of Oakland council voted to purchase the former country estate of the late F.C. Talbot from the Park Commission. The 350-acres ( different acreage) would cost the city approximately $662,000. That deal fell through. The whole story is confusing. Durant Park opened to the public in 1932.
In 1935 Sidney Snow took possession of the 475-acre (different acreage) Durant Park and started building the zoo. He ran it with some help from the city of Oakland. – From A History as Told by the Founder’s Daughter”
In 1937 Durant Park is now called the Zoological Gardens and Arboretum of Metropolitan Oakland.
In 1950 Durant park is dedicated as the “East Bay State Park” under the California park system. In a dedication speech, it was noted the there were many trees and plants from F.C Talbot estate, and they were included in the Historical Arboretum, which is a separate park from the Oakland Zoo.
A row of mature Canary Island Date Palms marks the part entry. Stately Mexican Fan Palms, Chilean Palms, and exotic Bunya Bunya trees from Australia dot the formal meadows of the existing picnic grounds. These Arboretum’s specimens were planted at the turn of the last century (I bet before that) as part of the Talbot Estate grounds. There is also a collection of 8 species of palms, native and exotic oaks, redwoods, and many other specimens from North Africa, the Himalayas, Chile, and the Canary Islands. – From the Zoo Master Plan 1996
In 1962 a fire destroyed the building that had been home to Effie, the elephant until 1959. The building had been marked unsafe. The building was built in 1890, was part of the Talbot Estate.
The Estate Today
On the map below, the sizeable red square shows where most of the estate was. The smaller green box shows the location of the caretaker home that was apart of the Talbot Estate. When Sidney Snow ran the zoo, he and his family lived there. Now is it used by zoo employees. The meadow by the main gate still has some of the trees planted by Talbot over 100 years ago. They are part of the Knowland State Arboretum and Park. I need to check this out.
- Ellis A. Haines – Bio – The Bay of San Francisco Volume 2
- Souther Farm – Oakland Tribune March 24, 1963
- He Saved his Chickens – F.C. Talbot – S F Chronicle Dec 15, 1901
- F.C. Talbots Big Battle with Cook – Oakland Tribune Jan 31, 1902
- Talbots Banish the Hired Help – San Francisco Call Feb 01, 1902
- Talbots Sale a Big Success – Oakland Tribune Mar 31, 1902
- F.C Talbot Passes Away – S F Examiner Mar 11, 1919
- Durant Flies over Property Closes Deal – S F Examiner Dec 06, 1919
- Oakland Zoo – A History as Told by the Founder’s Daughter – Alive Magazine
A couple of things:
I am working on getting copies of the real photos as opposed to copies from a report.
I am also checking on what’s up with the Knowland State Arboretum and Park. Does it still exist?
I know on real crowded days they allow parking on the meadow, where some of the historic trees still stand.