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.
New School Building
In 1959 the wooden three-story school building was demolished to make room for a new school building.
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.
Laurel School Now
3750 BROWN AVE, OAKLAND, CA, 94619,
Laurel Elementary School website – OUSD
- Laurel School Opens – Oakland Tribune Feb 05, 1910
- Earth Turned for New School – Oakland Tribune Jan 07, 1928
- The ground was broken for new school – Oakland Tribune Jan 09, 1928
- Laurel School Completed – Oakland Tribune Aug 26, 1928
- School Dedicated – Oakland Tribune Nov 07, 1928
- Contract to Remove Old School – Oakland Tribune Jul 08, 1959
- Old Bell Stays On – Oakland Tribune June 12, 1960
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
- multipurpose room
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
- New Sobrante Park School – Oakland Tribune Jul 05, 1956
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
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.”
Small or Not!
“The logical site is south of the tracks,” said M.D. Sherwood.
“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.
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
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.
“The scene in the Stonehurst School grocery, where second- grade pupils are learning how to make play dollars go far.”
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.
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
Esperanza Elementary is a dual language school that prepares students to be college and career ready. Esperanza website – OUSD
- Demand School – Oakland Tribune Aug 03, 1915
- Stonehurst and Elmhurst Argue for Schools – Oakland Tribune Aug 03, 1915
- Portable School Building – Oakland Tribune Apr 16, 1916
- School Report – Oakland Tribune Apr 28, 1916
- Stonehurst to Get School – Oakland Tribune Apr 07, 1921
- Bids for new School – Oakland Tribune Apr 19, 1921
- Work to Start on New School – Oakland Tribune May 04, 1921
- School Dedication – Oakland Tribune Apr 06, 1922
- Land Granted as Playground – Oakland Tribune Jul 02, 1942
- $1 Million Stonehurst School Plea – Oakland Tribune Jan 05, 1972
- New $1.2 million School – Oakland Tribune May 17, 1972
- Oakland School Gets Turned Down – Oakland Tribune Dec 05, 1973
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.
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.
Whittier School Today
Whittier school closed in 2012. It reopened as Greenleaf Elementary school in
6328 E 17th St, Oakland, CA 94621
- New Whittier School Dedicated – Oakland Tribune Nov 07, 1928
- District Funds Used – Oakland Tribune Jul 06, 1956
- New Reconstructed Whittier to Open – Oakland Tribune Apr 04, 1957
- Greenleaf Celebrates Opening – OUSD