Posted in Buildings, History, Then and Now

Downtown Modernization Program

In the summer of 1931, a group of property owners in the central downtown section formed an association called the Downtown Property Owners Associations.

One of the first projects they took on was the modernization some of the “elderly buildings” in the downtown area. They were losing tenants to the new modern buildings going up in the downtown area.

The association took care of all the details of the program.  

Just try to find a vacancy!”

D. Frost
Oakland Tribune 1933

Jonas Building – 1932 Northwest corner of Broadway and 11th Street in downtown Oakland, California. Abraham Jonas owned the building. He ran a clothing store for men.

The Jones building was the first to be remodeled and modernized.

Jonas building, northwest corner of Broadway and 11th Street in
downtown Oakland, California. Three Star Cafe, Normal Pharmacy, Broadway Theater in view.
1932 Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division (Oakland, Calif.)
Jonas building, northwest corner of Broadway and 11th Street in downtown Oakland, California
1934 – Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division (Oakland, Calif.)

The Abrahamson Building – Southwest corner of 13th and Washington streets. Opened in 1893 as Abrahamson’s Dry Goods. Owned by Jules and Hugo Abrahamson.

Abrahamson Building – circa 1931
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division (Oakland, Calif.)
Oakland Tribune 1931

A five-story structure at the southeast corner of 13th and Washington Streets was the second project in the modernization program.  J.H. King supervised the transformation of the building, and E.T. Foulkes was the architect.

The facelift was complete in March of 1934 with the opening of the Union Furniture Company.  The firm occupied all five floors of the building.

Abrahamson building, southeast corner of Washington and 13th Streets in downtown Oakland, California.
1932 – Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division (Oakland, Calif.)
Oakland Tribune 1934

Over the years, other businesses occupied the building.

Abrahamson building, southeast corner of Washington and 13th Streets in
downtown Oakland, California. Darling Shop in view.
1942 -Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division (Oakland, Calif.)

Delger Building – northwest corner of thirteenth and Broadway

Delger building, northwest corner of 13th Street and Broadway in downtown Oakland, California. 
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division (Oakland, Calif.)
Delger building, northwest corner of 13th Street and Broadway in downtown Oakland, California. 

M.K. Blake Building. – A four-story store and office structure at the southwest corner of 12th and Washington Streets.

The building was stripped of the bay windows, cornices, and other ornamentation removed. New tile was placed on the exterior walls.

M. K. Blake building (the Blake Block), southwest corner of Washington and 12th Streets
in downtown Oakland, California. Money Back Smith in view. 1935
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division (Oakland, Calif.)
M. K. Blake Estate Co. building (the Blake Block), southwest corner of 12th and Washington Streets in downtown Oakland, California. Smith’s in view. 1949
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division (Oakland, Calif.)

Glenn Building – 1308 Broadway

According to the Oakland Tribune, the Glenn Family had owned the building for 50 years.

Glenn building, east side of Broadway between 13th and 14th Streets in
downtown Oakland, California. Margaret Burnham’s Cottage Candies,
Leighton, Kay Jewelry Company in view. 1935
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division (Oakland, Calif.)

In 1937 work began on the Glenn Building at 1308 Broadway as part of a modernization program of the Downtown Property Association.

The improvements to the two-story cost $5,000 and included all new tiles on the front of the building.   Edward T. Foulkes was the architect on the project.

Most people will recognize the building as the home of De lauer’s Newsstand.

Glenn building, east side of Broadway between 13th and 14th Streets in downtown Oakland, California. Margaret Burnham’s Cottage Candies, Leighton, Kay Jewelry Company in view. 1935
Zukor’s, Inc. building, west side of Washington Street between 13th and 14th Streets
in downtown Oakland, California. 1932
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division (Oakland, Calif.)
Zukor’s, Inc. building, west side of Washington Street between 13th and 14th Streets
in downtown Oakland, California. 1934
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division (Oakland, Calif.)

More Buildings

In total, 31 buildings were rebuilt or given a “facelift.” The program was a success, buildings were filled with stores, and the stores were filled with people who were shopping.

  • Plaza Building at 15th and Washington Streets
  • Farmers & Merchants Savings Bank Building at 13th and Franklin
  • S.H. Cress Company on 14th and Broadway.
  • Federal Telegraph Building at 12th and Washington streets
  • Fuller-Sparks Building on 14th Streets.
  • Masonic Temple Building on 12th Street for the new Lerner Store
Oakland Tribune 1939
Oakland Tribune 1939

More Info:

Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division (Oakland, Calif.)

Author:

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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