Posted in Black History, Business, Homes, People, West Oakland

Fanny Wall Children’s Home

Fannie Wall Children’s Home and Day Nursery, an orphanage and daycare center, established in 1918 by African-American clubwomen in West Oakland. Sometimes it is called the Fanny Wall Home.

Charity is the Golden Chain that reaches from heaven to earth.”

from the letterhead

The Beginning

Care for the Orphans

Shelters the Half Orphans

Keeps the Children of Day Workers.”

Oakland Tribune April 1920

In 1914 the Northern Federation of California Colored Women’s Clubs President Fanny Wall and Financial Secretary Hettie Tilghman began working on a children’s home and day nursery to support black working mothers and care for orphaned black children. After years of planning and fundraising, the home opened in 1918 on Peralta Street in West Oakland.

Initially, the home was called the“Northern Federation Home and Day Nursery.” It was subsequently renamed to honor Fannie Wall who was the first woman to run the charity on a daily basis.

The Fannie Wall Children’s Home and Day Nursery was open to children of all races, ethnicities, and religions, it was the first facility in Northern California to provide various services including housing, boarding and daycare for black orphans.

It was located at 1215 Peralta Street in West Oakland from 1918-1928.

Fannie Wall Children’s Home and Day Nursery 1215 Peralta Street – the first site – Courtesy The African American Museum and Library Oakland
Oakland Tribune April 27, 1920

Who was Fannie Wall?

Fannie Wall ( 1860-1944) came to Oakland with her family in the early 1900s.  She was born in Gallatin Tennessee in 1860.  She was married to Archey(Archy) H. Wall (18??-1931), a staff sergeant in the US Army.  They had two daughters, Lillian (Williams) and Florence (Murray) and one son Clifton. Archey was transferred to the Presidio in San Francisco and they ultimately ended up in Oakland.

Wall was an early community activist who participated several organizations that promoted African American economic empowerment.  

Fanny Wall undated- Source: Beasley The Negro Trail Blazers

She served several terms as the president of the California Federation of Colored Women’s Club’s.

She co-founded the Art and Industrial Club of Oakland in 1906.  Under her presidency the club joined the Child Welfare League. Wall also help establish the “Colored Y” of Oakland.

In 1936 Archie Williams her grandson (Lillian)won a gold medal in the 400-meter run in Berlin.

Oakland Tribune Aug 8, 1936

Fannie Wall died on April 14, 1944 in her home on Telegraph Avenue.  She is buried in the same plot as her husband in the San Francisco National Cemetery.

Oakland Tribune Apr 20, 1944

Linden Street Site

In 1928, having outgrown its original location they moved to a new one on Linden Street.

Fannie Wall Children’s Home, 815 Linden – 2nd site -Courtesy The African American Museum and Library Oakland

The handsome house at 815 Linden Street was purchased $5000. The upper middle-class house was designed by Charle Man in the 1880s.  It was one of five buildings built by Frances Reichling a surveyor, who subdivided his property at the corner of Linden Street and Eighth Street.  The largest of the buildings became the family home and the others were rentals.

Linden Street 1948 -African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)

The home could accommodate up to 20 resident children and 8-15 children for day care services and was operated by a professional staff of over ten employees that included social workers and a volunteer psychiatrist. 

The house was considered step up from the one on Peralta Street and was across the street from the “Colored Y.”

Women and children seated around the piano at the Fannie Wall Children’s Home and Day Nursery- undated -African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)

New Look

The Linden Street site was given a face-lift in 1953. The “new look,” a two room addition to be used as the administrative offices, releasing the old offices and reception room for nursery classes and a future library.  The provided room for 47 children.  

In 1962 the Oakland Redevelopment Agency purchased the property at 815 Linden St. in order to demolish the building for the Acorn Project.

Management

Fannie Wall is Calling”

From the annual report

The Northern Federation of Colored Women Clubs operated the Fannie Wall Home until 1941. The home was then incorporated as an independent organization. At that time it was the only home in California that primarily cared for African-American children.

The home was admitted as an agency of the Community Chest-United crusade in 1923

Fannie Wall was elected as the first president and served more than 20 years as the head of the 21 board of directors. She was succeeded by Mrs. Lydia Smith Ward who in turn was followed by Mrs. Chlora Hayes Sledge in the 1940s.

The home was managed by a Board of Directors, which largely consisted of members of the Northern Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, a community advisory committee, and an executive director who oversaw the home’s day-to-day operations.

The Board of Directors of the Fanny Wall Home – Chlora Hays Sledge, President, center-left.Courtesy The African American Museum and Library Oakland

The home was the first Community Chest Children’s Agency in the East Bay to employ a trained social worker.

Girls with fans at the Fannie Wall Home, in the 1940s.Courtesy The African American Museum and Library Oakland

Fundraising

 The home received funding from a variety of sources including rent from an apartment in Berkeley donated by Josephine Sutton, Community Chest, the Dreiser Trust, and through fundraising events coordinated by the home.

Ticket to chicken dinner for Fannie Wall Home Benefit-1944 -African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
Fannie Wall Children’s Home and Day Nursery, Inc. charity ball program – 1946 – African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)- Identifier
MS162_B1_F6_0
01
Oakland Tribune 1958

The third charity ball was held on January 19, 1948 at the Oakland Auditorium.

In 1959 a fashion show was held at Slim Jenkins to raise money for the building fund.  Models showed the latest styles.

A Haven For Children

Rodeo artists Schwartz and Grodin entertain children with finger paints at the Fannie Wall Children’s Home and Day Nursery – circa 1947 -African American Museum & Library at Oakland Photograph Collection
Oakland Tribune 1949

In 1949  the Fannie Wall home had 30 children who received day care while parents worked.  Ranging in age from 3 to 14 years.During the summer months the children took swimming lessons at the de Fremery Park pool: the enjoyed story hours at the West Oakland Branch Library, and they had special excursions to other city parks and playgrounds.

Birthday Party 1946

Monthly parties were held to honor the children whose birthday occurred during the month. They would dress up for special dinner or an afternoon party.

Oakland Tribune Aug 8, 1948
Integrated Playground at the Fanny Wall Home, the 1950s. Courtesy The African American Museum and Library Oakland

The Final Location

In 1964 they purchased a house at 647 55th Street for $19,000. They initially struggled to obtain a license from the Social Welfare Department, and the home was not re-opened until 1967 as part of a placement program for the Alameda County Welfare Department.

Fannie Wall Children’s Home 55th Street – 3rd site Courtesy The African American Museum and Library Oakland

The home was forced to close again in 1970 for remodeling and reopened in 1978 as a child daycare facility and Head Start Center. It is now called Fannie Wall Head Start.

Group photograph of attendees at Fannie Wall Children’s Home and Day Nursery mortgage burning ceremony (first row, left-right): Annie Mae Smith, Albertine Radford, Silvia Parker, Mildred McNeal, Marge Gibson (second row, left-right): Bessie Watson, Euna Tucker, N. Adams, Lela Posey (third row, left-right): Eugene P. Lasartemay, Roy Blackburn, Kermit Scott, Harold Adams – 1981 -African American Museum & Library at Oakland Photograph Collection
Fannie Wall Pre-K Program – 647 55th Street Oakland CA

More Info:

The End

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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