Painted Rock

The “Painted Rock” is a famous, well-known landmark in Piedmont Pines, often fully painted with birthday or anniversary messages. Painted Rock is located at the ‘Y” where Ascot Drive and Chelton Drive

Google Maps

The area was called Sulphur Springs Park.

Google Maps

Some History

In the 1930s, the Rock was placed in a project under the auspice of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). I believe they created the benches.

In the 1960s, residents began painting messages on the Park. This tradition has continued to the present day.

The Montclarion 1963

Early on, the area residents complained about the “grafitti” that appeared on the Rock. They even called it “grafitti rock.

A Bufano Statue

There was talk of placing a Bufano statue at “the Rock.”

The Montclarion 1966

At the crossroads

“There’s a rock at the intersection of Ascot and Chelton drives and it’s become almost a national monument in Piedmont Pines”

Peggy Stinnett 1966
Undated from Facebook
The Montclarion – October 12, 1966

“People who live in Piedmont Pines drive past the rock twice a day more or less”

Peggy Stinnett 1966

For a while, there was even a “Save the Rock” campaign. They insisted the Rock should stay in its natural state. Others said the Rock should be a “servant to young mankind, a forum for self-expression.” While the groups were going back and forth, city crews came in and sandblasted the Rock. The controversy didn’t happen when the Rock was painted in purple.

“I am a Rock.”

The Rock is Famous

SF Examiner May 1, 1978

The above article was repeated or excerpted in many newspapers across the nation.

Name Change

In 2003, Piedmont Pines residents petitioned the City of Oakland to honor Marjorie Saunders (1909-2009) many contributions by renaming Sulphur Springs Park (“Painted Rock”) to Marjorie Saunders Park

Marjorie Saunders in front of the Rock

On June 26, 2004, more than 100 neighbors and dignitaries turned out for the Park’s dedication in her name. 

From the Piedmont Pines Neighborhood Association
From Google Maps


Oakland sixth-grader Cameron Cox tests the water that runs off the “painted rock” at Marjorie Saunders Park. Cox, 12, found that often people use toxic paint on the Rock, which pollutes the watershed. (Photo courtesy of Cox)

 A middle school student, Cameron Cox, reported on the potential pollution associated with painting the Rock.  

“After passing by the rock nearly every day on her way to school, 12-year-old Cameron Cox, decided to test the water that runs off the rock into a creek for a Bentley School project, and found harmfully high levels of levels of acetone, butanone, benzene and other volatile compounds.”

 East Bay Times April 19, 2018

“The runoff from the paint contains toxins and pollutes the watershed. I believe in honoring tradition, but not at the environment’s expense.”

 East Bay Times April 19, 2018

Photos of Painted Rock

More Info:

Does anyone have photos of painted Rock that they would like to share? Please let me know. Thanks

Marjorie Saunders Park and the Painted RockFact Sheet

This fact sheet addresses recent concerns associated with potential pollution associated with the painting of the Rock at Marjorie Saunders Park.  “For almost 70 years, PPNA has been the voluntary steward of this Park and has recently been in discussions with the city to address the pollution concerns that have been raised.” – website

The city confirmed that painting the Rock is not permitted

The End

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