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

Then & Now – Oakland Schools Part 13

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.

John Swett Elementary School

John Swett Elementary School was constructed in 1926 and opened in January 1927 and closed in 2004.

Oakland Tribune 1926

The school was named after John Swett (1830–1913), who is considered to be the “Father of the California public school” system. He served as the 4th California State Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1863-1867.

Boys Build Amphitheater

Oakland Tribune May 09,1928

John Swett Today

School Sign – OUSD

John Sweet Today

The school is now a K-8 community school called Roses in Concrete.

Our mission is to develop youth committed to lives characterized by self-discipline, integrity, love, and hope in the pursuit of justice and equity for all communities.

Roses in Concrete – Website

More Info:

Located at 4551 Steele St, Oakland, CA, 94619

Parker Elementary School

Bids for a new two-story school at the corner of Ney Avenue and Ritchie Street in April of 1948. Parker School was to be the first permanent building to be constructed from the 1945 school bond.

Dedication ceremonies were held in November of 1949

Oakland Tribune Nov 7, 1949

Parker Today

Parker School 7929 Ney – today

Roosevelt High School

Groundbreaking for a new school at 19th Avenue and E. 19th Street took place on November 11, 1922. The cornerstone was placed on March 24, 1923. The school cost $917,452.43 to build. The school was named after Theodore Roosevelt.

Roosevelt in 1923

The school was built to accommodate 1500 students. The dedication took place in September 1924.

From 1923

In 1934 the main school building was closed (I assume due to it being unsafe).

Roosevelt Today

Roosevelt is now a middle school.

More Info

1926 19th Avenue


Tompkins School

Oakland Tribune 1877

Tompkins School opened on January 07, 1878, at 5th and Linden Streets in West Oakland, named after State Senator Edward Tompkins. There were 231 students enrolled.

Sanborn Map

C.H Clement was the first Principal from 1877 to 1881.

Edwin Markham was the principal from 1891-1900.

Observation School

Oakland Tribune October 1894

In October of 1894, Tompkins became an observation school under the supervision of the University of California Department of Pedagogy.

Many Firsts

Tompkins school was known for its many “firsts.”

  • First Kindergarten – in Oakland
  • First American Flag to fly – in Oakland
  • First Scientific Child Study Club
  • First Health Study Club
  • First Observation School
  • First Parents and Mothers Club
  • First of the Experimental playgrounds

The first American Flag to fly over an Oakland School was raised over Tompkins in 1890.

Experimental Playground

In 1909 the first two experimental playgrounds were set up at Tompkins and Prescott Schools.

Fire Destroys Tompkins

In August of 1914, the school was destroyed by a fire. Arson was suspected. There were seven school fires in four weeks during July and August.

Plans for a new school were put in place at once. The new school opened on October 11, 1915. There was a $96,000 six-room addition added in 1924. In 1954 another addition costing $148,000 was added.

No More Schooldays

In 1965 the school was razed to make room for the Acorn Projects.

Oakland Tribune Sep 1965

More Info:

Woodland Elementary School

Woodland Elementary School started out being called the Lockwood-Highland School. It was built to relieve the overcrowding in Lockwood and the Highland Schools.

On January 4, 1960, the school opened with 540 students. The one-story school with 14 classrooms, a kindergarten, a library, an administration office, and a teacher’s lunchroom. It was the 29th of 51 school projects proposed in the 1956 school bond election. The school costs $432, 296 to build.


Oakland Tribune Apr 26, 1960

A new multi-purpose building was dedicated in November of 1961. Then Municipal Judge Lionel Wilson spoke on “The Role of the Parent in the Eyes of the Judge.”

Oakland Tribune Nov 22, 1961

Woodland Today

Today the school is called Acorn Woodland Elementary (AWE)- At ACORN Woodland Elementary (AWE), we employ a variety of strategies to ensure that a solid base of grade-level skills is mastered, while fostering creative and critical thinking among our students.

Woodland Today – OUSD
Woodland Today – OUSD

Acorn Woodland Website – OUSD

More Info:

1025-81st Avenue Oakland

The End


I grew up in the Montclair District of Oakland, CA. I attended Thornhill Elementary School, Montera Junior High, Skyline High School, and spent some time at Merritt College.

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