In this series of posts, I hope to show Then and Now images Oakland Schools. Along with a bit of history of each school, I highlight. Some of the photos are in the form of drawings or postcards, or from the pages of history books.
Note: Piecing together the history of some of the older schools is sometimes tricky. I do this all at home and online — a work in progress for some. I have been updating my posts when I find something new. Let me know of any mistakes or additions.
UPDATED September 21, 2020
“Fruit vale Public School” – Fruitvale No. 1
The Fruit vale (as it was sometimes spelled) School district was formed in 1889 to build a new schoolhouse.
From what I can tell is the school was in the same general location of where Fruitvale Elementary school is today, at the corner of Boston Street and School Street.
New Life as Church
In 1896 after the Fruitvale No. 1 was built, the old school was moved and remodeled for use as a church. It was re-dedicated as the Higgins Methodist Episcopal Church in Mar of 1896.
Fruitvale No. 1 – Fruitvale School Elementary
In 1894 the Fruitvale School district, the trustees were forced to meet the demand and take steps to build a larger school. The new school replaced the old Fruitvale School building from the 1880s.
The present quarters a ramshackle shanty, will be moved and a new building will be erected in its place.“
SF Examiner Mar 29, 1895SF Examiner Mar 29, 1895
The pastures of the Empire Dairy surrounded the school from 1880-1901
Back in 1885, the site at Boston and School Streets overlooked the city of Oakland and the Bay of San Francisco.
The style of the new building was the Italian Renaissance. The architects were Cunningham Bros. of Oakland.
The plans called for a $13,000 2-story building with a concrete basement. Each floor was to have four large classrooms and lunchrooms for the teachers. The principal’s office was on the first floor, and space was reserved for a library. In the basement, there were separate playrooms for the boys and girls, janitor rooms, and a heating apparatus.
In 1913 Fruitvale School No. 1 was changed to just Fruitvale School.
New School Built
The new Fruitvale School was dedicated on December 1, 1950. The new school has 14 classrooms, a library, a cafeteria, a kindergarten, and an auditorium. The school was designed by Ponsford and Price Architects and cost $497,700. The school has room for 569 students.
The dedication was attended by William Taylor, a long-time resident of the Fruitvale District, he was a student at the “old Fruitvale School “in the 1880s. Oakland Tribune June 1962
- Fruitvale School website – OUSD
More on Fruitvale Elementary
- Bids accepted for New School – SF Examiner Mar 05, 1895
- New Fruitvale School Almost Ready- Oakland Tribune Aug 27, 1895
Fruitvale School No. 2 – Hawthorne School
In 1905 an addition to the school added 9 more rooms.
In 1913 Fruitvale School No. 2 name was changed to Hawthorne School. The school was on Fruitvale at East 17th (Tallant Street)
In 1923 a concrete culvert was built, and Sausal Creek was filled in.
School Destroyed by Fire in 1923
New School Built
The district purchased the property fronting on East 17th Street, adjoining the playground. The new school was built away from the noise and traffic of Fruitvale Ave.
In September of 1924, they laid the cornerstone of the new school building. The school was designed by John J Donovan.
The new school is located at 28th Avenue at East 17th Street across the street from where the old Fruitvale School No 2 was located. The old school building was destroyed by fire the year before.
The following items were put into the sealed cornerstone:
- Minutes of Board of Education May 1924
- Minutes of Board of Education June 1924
- Outline of the school plans
- Program from Cornerstone ceremony
- History of the PTA
- Names of all the pupils enrolled
- Group photos of all the classes.
- School Directory
The new school opened in January of 1925.
The school is located at 1700 28th Ave, Oakland, CA 94601
Today Hawthorne is the home of the Achieve Academy.
Achieve Academy (TK-5) serves students in the Fruitvale neighborhood and is one of the highest performing elementary campuses in Oakland.
- Achieve Academy – website
Fruitvale No. 3 – Allendale School
Fruitvale School No. 3 was built in the Allendale neighborhood in 1904.
Before 1904 children living along High Street had to make the long walk to Fruitvale School No. 1 on School Street in Boston. Allendale was chosen because of its central location to the children from Laurel Grove District (Laurel District) to High Street and down to Foothill Blvd, then known as Old County Road.
The 1904 school building cost $107,437 to build. The first years’ enrollment was 809. A four-room addition in 1910 and another four-rooms costing $49,458 were added in 1928.
Miss Alice V. Baxley was the first principal of Allendale School from 1904-1913.
In 1913 Fruitvale No. 5 was renamed Allendale School.
Dangerous and a Hazard –
The school was deemed unsafe and closed in 1953. At the time, it was one of the oldest school buildings, there were 2 others from the pre-1906 era still standing. The old school building withstood the 1906 earthquake.
17 portables were placed on the site to house the students until the fall of 1959.
The day of reckoning has come for the old Allendale School building which has been razed”
New School Built –
Plans for a new school were drawn up by architects George E. Ellinger and Roland Gibbs to cost $363,250.
Bids for a new school with 13 classrooms, library, multipurpose room, one kindergarten, and administration offices opened in 1958.
The school was completed in the fall of 1959.
- Allendale School Website – OUSD
Fruitvale – Allendale Junior High
A new Fruitvale School to be built in the Rhoda Tract at Hopkins Blvd ( MacArthur Blvd). The school to cost $100,000.”
Oakland Tribune 1909Oakland Tribune 1909
The new school was called the Allendale – Fruitvale Junior High and was constructed at the Hopkins (MacArthur Blvd) and Coolidge Avenue.
The name of the Allendale – Fruitvale Junior High was changed to Bret Harte Junior High at a school board meeting in 1929; the other name under consideration was Dimond Junior High.
The school was named after Bret Harte, who was an American author and poet and best known for his somewhat romanticized accounts of pioneer life in California. He lived in Oakland from about 1854 to 1857 at the home of his stepfather, Colonel Andrew F. Williams, who was later Oakland’s fourth mayor.
The school was the last to the new school to be built out of the 1924 Bond issue. It was constructed at the cost of $120,000.
The building contained 22 classrooms and had 699 pupils enrolled on opening day in 1930. The school took graduates from Fruitvale, Allendale, Sequoia, and Laurel Schools.
The school opened in 1930.
The school’s auditorium gymnasium building was constructed in 1950.
In 1957 the school district opened bids for a new building at Bret Harte.
The new building was built on the campus in 1959, another major expansion took place in 1979.
The 1930 time capsule in a copper box found during the 1979 construction was never opened and was since lost.
The school is located at 3700 Coolidge Avenue Oakland, CA 94602
Bret Harte Middle School – Today
- Bret Harte Middle School – website
- Fruitvale School Name Changes – Oakland Tribune Aug 26, 1913
- 750 Children Marched from Burning School – Oakland Tribune April 30, 1923
- Hawthorne School Burns – Oakland Tribune April 30, 1923
- A Narrow Escape – School burns – Oakland Tribune May 01, 1923
- New Hawthorne School to be Built – Oakland Tribune Sep 04, 1923
- Cornerstone at Hawthorne – Oakland Tribune Sep 23, 1924
- New Hawthorne School Opens – Oakland Tribune Jan 24, 1925
- Hawthorne Soccer Champs for 1927 – Oakland Tribune Dec 19, 1926
- Bret Harte Competition – Oakland Tribune Apr 10, 1932
- New $497,700 Fruitvale School – Oakland Tribune Dec 01, 1950
- Allendale School Razed – Oakland Tribune June 21, 1957