Then & Now – Oakland Schools Part 15

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.

I didn’t have a whole lot of luck with this group of schools. I figured I better share it now, as I was spending too much time on it.

Laurel Elementary School

The Laurel School opened in February of 1910. The school was a part of the Allendale School district.

Laurel School
Photo By Cheney Photo Advertising
Laurel School – 1915
Photo By Cheney Photo Advertising
Laurel School – 1937

Unique School

Oakland Tribune 1928

The Unique School building today- google maps

New School Building

In 1959 the wooden three-story school building was demolished to make room for a new school building.

Oakland Tribune Oct 31, 1957
Oakland Tribune Oct 30, 1958
The new school was the building on the bottom right side.
Google Maps

School Bell

For almost 50 years, the ringing of the bell in the wooden three-story building played an essential part in the neighborhood around the school.

Residents were determined to save the bell as a local shrine. It was the last public school bell used in the city.

The bell is mounted and on display in the hallway by school offices.

Oakland Tribune Jun 12, 1960
The Bell Today – Laurel School Website

Laurel School Now

3750 BROWN AVE, OAKLAND, CA, 94619,

Laurel Elementary School website – OUSD

More Info:

James Madison Junior High School

Sobrante Park Junior High as it was first called opened February 1, 1960. The school was the 27th project to be completed paid for money from the 1958 bond issue.

The $1,425,525 school would eventually house 900 students. The school s campus 14 acres and has the following. The school was designed by Mitchel Van Bourg & Associates.

  • 8 General classrooms
  • 2 Science Rooms
  • 2 homemaking rooms
  • 2 arts & crafts rooms
  • 2 music rooms
  • 3 shops
  • 2 special ed rooms
  • a library
  • gymnasium
  • multipurpose room
  • offices

In May of 1960, the Board of Education approved James Madison Junior high school as the permanent name of the new Sobrante Park Junior High.

Oakland Tribune Jun 1960
The plaque on the school
Oakland Tribune Jun 1960

For fun

Oakland, CA December 11, 1977 – Madison Junior High School performs a “Sleighs and Toboggans” dance in the Christmas Pageant at the Oakland Auditorium. (By Prentice Brooks / Oakland Tribune) Published December 12, 1977 (Photo by MediaNews Group/Oakland Tribune via Getty Images)

Madison Today

Madison Today OUSD

400 Capistrano Drive, Oakland, CA 94603

Today it is called Madison Park Academy of Engineering and Graphic Design. It has approximately 800 students in grades 6-12.

Madison Park Business & Art Academy Campus Expansion

400 Capistrano Dr.,
Architect Byrnes Kim Design Works

The new 30,464-square-foot classroom building will feature:

  • 14 classrooms equipped with modern classroom furniture
  • 2 science laboratories
  • 4 student restrooms will feature low water flow fixtures
  • 6 administrative offices and increased staff workspace, including a break room, conference room, workroom, and staff restrooms
  • Exterior assembly area for student activities
  • Renovation of kitchen shared by MPA and James Madison Middle School
  • Restoration of the parking lot
  • Madison Park Expansion – OUSD
  • Madison Park Academy Website – OUSD

Sobrante Park Elementary School

In 1956 a new school was proposed for the site on El Paseo drive that was occupied by a group of portable buildings.

Oakland Tribune Jul 05, 1956

The new school was designed by Ralph N. Kerr and Robert E. Riggs.

  • 13 general classrooms
  • Special Ed classroom
  • A kindergarten
  • A library
  • A multi-purpose room
  • Offices

Sobrante Park Today

The school is located at 470 El Paseo Drive

Today the school is called Madison Park Academy (MPA Primary). MPA Primary serves students in grades TK-5. Our vision at MPA Primary is to educate, challenge, and nurture our students to succeed in secondary school and beyond.

Madison Park Academy – website

More Info:

Stonehurst Elementary School

This school has a very complicated history.

Stonehurst School opened 1915 as one portable school.

The citizens of both the Elmhurst and Stonehurst districts attended a school board meeting in August of 1915. They demanded that each area get a portable school, one north and the other south of the Southern Pacific and Western Pacific tracks.

“We have working men down in South Elmhurst, workmen have children! said J.A. Halpruner

August 1915

The Stonehurst people based their claim on growth and the Elmhurst people their claims on the more significant number of children.

The rich people in Stonehurst don’t have any.”

August 1915

August 1915

Small or Not!

“The logical site is south of the tracks,” said M.D. Sherwood.

August 1915

“Stonehurst is a small insignificant burg, but we have a big district and many children,” continued Sherwood.

At the time, there were 78 students and 89 not yet in school in South Elmhurst and only 41 Stonehurst.
The meeting was adjourned!

The South Elmhurst school was located on Edes and Douglass Avenues.

Oakland Tribune 1915

New School

Oakland Tribune 1917

In 1916 it was reported in the “School Building Report” that they intended to purchase another site to be used for a new Stonehurst school building to replace the portable one. The district was leasing the land the school was on.


After demanding a new school as promised in 1916, the residents were guaranteed by the school board that the first money received from the sale of school bonds

 “shall be used in the construction of the Stonehurst school.” Oakland Tribune 1921

Stonehurst School in 1926 –
showing the 1922 school building with a proposed addition
Oakland Tribune Nov 07, 1926

Work began on the new school in late May of 1921. The new school consisted of 8 classrooms and an assembly hall at the cost of about $50,000. An addition was added to the school in 1927, costing $60,000.

Grocery Store.

Oakland Tribune 1926

“The scene in the Stonehurst School grocery, where second- grade pupils are learning how to make play dollars go far.”

Unsafe School

In 1972 a $1.2 million project to replace the 50-year-old Stonehurst school building because it is an earthquake hazard was approved by the Board of Education.

Built before 1933, when California’s Field Act established new construction standards for earthquake safety, the building is surrounded by a cluster of 29 portables -10 of which were built before 1933. The school was built to house 380 students who had 973 enrolled in 1972.

The firm of Ratcliff, Slama, and Cadwalader architects designed the new $1.2 million school.

No Name Change

Both Madison Junior High and Stonehurst (at different times) requested to their school be renamed for Dr. Marcus A. Foster. Both were turned down.

Stonehurst Today

10315 E Street, Oakland, CA, 94603

Fred T. Korematsu Discovery Academy, a public community K-5 elementary school in East Oakland with an integrated focus on academics, youth development, family support, health, and social services. KDA website – OUSD

Stonehurst Today – OUSD

Esperanza Elementary is a dual language school that prepares students to be college and career ready. Esperanza website – OUSD

Stonehurst Today – OUSD

More Info:

Whittier Elementary School

Whittier School opened in 1928. The school was named after John Greenleaf Whittier, an American Quaker poet, and advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States.

Oakland Tribune November 1928
Whittier Auditorium – OUSD
Oakland Tribune Apr 04, 1957

In 1953 Whittier was closed after being declared an earthquake hazard.

The school reopened in 1956 after a $376,722 reconstruction project. 11,000 square feet of added space in the basement was converted to a cafeteria and a special education classroom.

Oakland Tribune Jul 06, 1956

Whittier School Today

Whittier school closed in 2012. It reopened as Greenleaf Elementary school in

Whittier School – OUSD
Whittier School – OUSD

More Info:

6328 E 17th St, Oakland, CA 94621

The End

One thought on “Then & Now – Oakland Schools Part 15

Add yours

  1. I love Oakland’s Rich history. I would love to see more history about Jefferson elementary school in the 70s about the staff teachers, students , princibles,etc. and also Jefferson child care after school center down the street just 1 block over, a lot of us kids would go there when school let out until our parents got off from work to pick us up it was a great program with a lot of great history.oh yeah nba star Gary Payton was my school mate at both schools. I would love to see pictures and stories of that exciting time in Oakland CA!!! Thanks for reading my comment

    Liked by 1 person

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