Posted in Claremont, Estates, People, Rockridge, Tract or Subdivisions

The Pines

The Pines “ was the beautiful home and the surrounding gardens of Mr. & Mrs. Philip E. Bowles. The home was built in 1910 and it stood at what is now No. 2 Bowling Drive.  

Oakland Tribune Apr 04, 1910

Mr. and Mrs P.E. Bowles on a garden path at The Pines

Views of “The Pines”Estate by Gabriel Moulin, ca. 1927
Location of The Pines

Land Purchased

In 1909, Philip E. Bowles purchased 51 (58 acres in some publications) acres of land in “Claremont hills” adjoining the Horatio P Livermore Homestead. Bowles was the president of the First National Bank of Oakland and a Regent of the University of California from 1911-22.

The house and grounds had an entrancing view of the bay and all of the surrounding country. 

The view from “The Pines”

The Golden Gate in The Distance c 1927
Photo By Cheney Photo Advertising
Where the Setting Sun Meets the Golden Gate c 1927
Photo By Cheney Photo Advertising

The Bowles Home

 He signed a contract for the erection of a residence to cost  $31,000.  The Architect was L.B. Dutton. He engaged an expert landscaper. who designed the grounds of the estate in accordance with Bowles own plans.

Oakland Tribune March 1909
Photo c 1928 Cheney Photo Advertising
Photo By Cheney Photo Advertising

The home was built in the Italian Villa style with twenty-two rooms and a full basement.  It had six master bedrooms, dressing rooms, five bathrooms, three sleeping porches, a library, a drawing room and a conservatory .

Inside the home

Views of “The Pines”Estate by Gabriel Moulin, ca. 1927

A Bedroom

Views of “The Pines”Estate by Gabriel Moulin, ca. 1927


The home was surrounded a veritable forest filed with quail and dotted with miniature lakes stocked with large rainbow trout and a well stocked bass pond. There was a Japanese Tea garden, with pools containing rare goldfish, golden carp and unusual aquatic plants. There was also a tennis court, a swimming pool, large garage, and a horse stable with a trotting park. 

Mr. Bowles purchased from all of the world, he bought the best. The Rhododendrons were especially lovely.

SF Chronicle July 28, 1913
Views of “The Pines”Estate by Gabriel Moulin, ca. 1927

The swimming pool and bathhouse.

Views of “The Pines”Estate by Gabriel Moulin, ca. 1927

A garden path

Photo By Cheney Photo Advertising
Claremont Pines was housing development built around 1927
Photo By Cheney Photo Advertising

Architecture & Engineer

In 1911 the home was featured in January issue of Architecture & Engineer of California Magazine.  It states the architect was L.B. Dutton.  Architecture & Engineer of California Jan 1911 pg. 204

Jan 1911 – Architecture & Engineer

High Society at The Pines

Many dances and social events were held at The Pines.

Oakland Tribune June 17, 1910

In 1912 the Bowles daughter Amy married Hiram Johnson Jr. the son of Governor Hiram W. Johnson. The wedding was held at The Pines

The extension grounds surrounding the Bowles mansion were transformed into a fairyland

Oakland Tribune May 30, 1912
Oakland Tribune May 30, 1912
Oakland Tribune Sep 20, 1923

Death of P.E. Bowles

On January 20,1926 Philip Bowles died at the age of 67.

Oakland Tribune Jan 21, 1926

Possible Park

The city of Oakland Park board was urged by Mayor Davie to purchase land and home for $700,000for a public playground or park.  That fell through.

Oakland Tribune Oct 15, 1926

Claremont Pines

In  May of 1927, a year after Philip Bowles died,  Mrs. Bowles sold the entire estate to a group of men from southern California and they hired the York Company, Inc. of Oakland to handle to development and the sales.

The York company subdivided the land and called it Claremont Pines.  The name Claremont Pines came from the nearby district called Claremont and the name of the Bowles Estate .

Claremont Pines Placed on the Market

New Owner

In about 1927 or 1928  Andrew Williams of the Andrew Williams Store, local grocery chain purchase the home which was located at No. 2 Bowling Drive.    

Oakland Tribune Feb 26, 1928

After spending two years remodeling and adding new furniture including expensive Persian rugs, Williams put the home up for sale in 1932

Ad for No. 2 Bowling Drive 1931
Oakland Tribune Sept 05, 1932

Bowles Hall – UC Berkeley

In 1928 in memory of her husband Mrs Bowles donated $250,000 to the University of California to be used to build a dormitory for men, appropriately and completely furnished, on or near the University campus, in Berkeley. The dormitory is known as Bowles Hall.

The Wrecking Ball

In 1938 the main house was destroyed by the wrecking and sold off piece by piece. A sad ending to a home that was just 28 years old.

Oakland Tribune Fev 1938

Caretaker House

The was a caretaker house located at front gates of estate. It stood at the portal through the high metal-spiked fence around the estate. The five room bungalow which formally served as the guardian of the estate was used as the tract office from 1928- 1948.

It was at this little cottage where the street car once stopped.

In 1948 the cottage was sold to Charles Ray Jr. of 1028 85th Avenue and he will be placing it on lot next to his.

More on The Pines:


The End


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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