Posted in Buildings, East Oakland, Schools, Then and Now

Then & Now – Oakland Schools Part 2

This is the third in a series of posts on Oakland Schools. I intend to show Then and Now pictures of the schools, along with a bit of history of each school if. Some of the pictures are in the form of drawings, postcards or from pages in historical books.

Not all schools will be included in this series. Sometimes I might just post a picture of the school.

Campbell School

The school was built in 1869 as the Grove Street School. The name was changed in 1906 to Campbell School when it was named after Fred Campbell superintendent of Oakland schools from 1870-1870 and 1886-1890. He was state superintendent of schools 1880-1883.

Oakland Tribune Jun 09, 1926

Campbell’s daughter Mary was the principal of the school from 1898-1926.

In 1907 a new school was built . The Mission Style school was designed by Architect F.E. Voorhees. It contained seven classroom and office for the principal. It cost about $38,000 to build.

Oakland Tribune Mar 1907

In 1954 due the the school not being earthquake safe it was closed and the students were sent to Tompkins School. The school was sold and demolished in 1954. A commercial building was in built on the site.

The school was located at 416 Grove Street.

Cleveland School

The first drawing – Oakland Tribune Jul 09, 1912

In 1912 the first drawing for a new Peralta Heights school was submitted to the school board. John J. Donovan was the architect. Donovan designed many schools for the district.

Peralta Heights is a small neighborhood in what is now known as Cleveland Heights.

Bids to build the school were submitted in 1912, based on the below photo. They held a formal opening of the school in Jan of 1914.

Sometime during the late 50s or early 60s the old school was removed and a new replaced it.

Cleveland School Today – Google Maps

Cleveland Elementary School is located at 745 Cleveland Street.

Cole Grammar School

Cole Grammar School was opened in 1885 in West Oakland on 10th Street between Union and Poplar Streets.

Oakland and Surroundings 1885
Oakland Local wiki

 It was named for Rector E. Cole an early Oakland dentist and member of the city council, and member and then president of the Oakland Board of Education.

Jack London attended Cole starting in 1887. He graduated 8th grade in 1891

Cole School was located at 1011 Union Street.

As of 2013 Cole School is the headquarters of the Chief of Police.

Cole School Today – Google Maps

Piedmont Avenue School

The Piedmont Avenue School as seen below was built in 1891. It was located on Piedmont Avenue at John Street and across the street from where the school is now located.

Oakland Tribune Feb 13, 1892

Prior to that there was a two room schoolhouse up closer to the Mountain View Cemetery. Classes we held for a time at the home of G.W. Hume who lived in large estate where the school is located now.

The school at that time was used by both children from Piedmont and Oakland. The building was designed by William Kirk and cost about $10,000 to build. The school had bell tower with a 350 pound bell. There was a large assembly room, a library, a hothouse for plants, classrooms on both floors and a large lighted basement where the children could play during wet weather.

Oakland Tribune Feb 20, 1892

The school was dedicated on Washington’s Birthday in 1892.

Engraving of the Piedmont District School at Webster Avenue in Oakland, Alameda County, California, from the book “Illustrated album of Alameda County, California” by Jos, 1893. Alex Colquhoun. Courtesy Internet Archive. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

In July of 1938 while the students were on summer break the school was destroyed by fire that was considered arson. Ten fireman were injured four of them seriously.

Oakland Tribune July 25, 1938
Oakland Tribune July 25, 1938
Oakland Tribune July 25, 1938

The new school was dedicated in March of 1941.

Piedmont Avenue School – Google Maps

Prescott School

Prescott School started in 1866 as a one room primary school. It was located at Ninth and Campbell Streets which was dirt roads surrounded by woods. In 1869 a new two-story building with four classrooms on each floor opened the largest and it was the most up to date school in Oakland.

Exterior Prescott Grammar School
Oakland History Room
Prescott School with damage from 1906 earthquake
UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library
Permalink: https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030/hb1m3nb284/
Prescott School, 9th & Campbell 1906
Owning Institution: UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library
Permalink: https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030/hb6d5nb5w4/
Exterior of Prescott School circa 1918
Towns (Royal E.) Papers
Oakland Public Library, African American Museum

Ida Louise Jackson, Oakland’s first African-American teacher, taught there starting in 1925 — 13 years before any other school hired a black teacher.

New School

Prescott Primary school was constructed in record time of 187 work days by Lawton & Vezey, a local contractor.

Oakland Tribune Oct 24, 1926

The new school was a two-story Spanish style steel framed building with a basement and seventeen classrooms.

accepted by the school board, who considered it one of the best in the recent school buildings”

Oakland School Board – October 05, 1926

Unsafe and Condemned

In 1954 Prescott Junior High (somewhere in time it was changed?) was condemned for being unsafe and a hazard to the students. At that time there was no money in the budget to replaced it.

Prescott is located at 920 Campbell St.

Prescott School Today – Google Maps

The school has been operating under the name PLACE @ Prescott (Preparatory Literary Academy of Cultural Excellence @ Prescott) since 2006, serving Kindergarten through 5th grade children

  • 150 Years of Prescott OUSD
  • Prescott website- OUSD
  • Place@Prescott website – OUSD

Swett Grammar School

Swett School was located at 12th Avenue and East 19th Street.

Views of Oakland 1893
Swett School – 1906 earthquake damage
Owning Institution: UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library
Permalink: https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030/hb9199p3sm/

Woodrow Wilson Junior High

Woodrow Wilson Junior High started out as Mosswood Junior High in August of 1923. It was located at the corner of 48th and Webster Streets. In 1924 the schools name was changed.

In 1926 they laid the cornerstone for a new school.

Oakland Tribune October 26, 1926
Oakland Tribune Oakland Tribune Nov 14, 1926
Woodrow Wilson Junior circa 1970s

In the early 1970s Woodrow Wilson Junior High School was demolished and a new school was built. Sometime in the mid 1970s the school was renamed the Verdese Carter Middle School.

Demolition of Woodrow Wilson School in the 1970s
from Adrienne Broach
Demolition of Woodrow Wilson School in the 1970s
from Adrienne Broach
The School Today – Google Maps

In 2007 the Oakland Unified school district opened its first school that enrolls only immigrant students. Called the Oakland International High School, it is modeled after international high schools in New York City for newcomers to the United States. The school is still open in 2019.

The school is located at 4521 Webster St.

  • Oakland International High School – OUSD
  • West Coast District Uses East Coast Model – August 2007

The End

Updated October 27, 2019

Author:

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s