The Home Place of Romance – Smith Reserve

 Smith Reserve was a subdivision in Montclair and is now called Piedmont Pines.  

Smith Reserve is located at the top of  Park Blvd with borders on Shepherd Canyon and Joaquin Miller Park and up to Skyline Blvd.

Smith Reseve Opens

The Realty Syndicate announced in May of 1926 that they were putting 300 acres in the hills behind Piedmont for sale. The land was once owned by F.M. Smith.

Smith reserve is the most beautiful tract of land opened by the Syndicate Company” 

Oakland Tribune
Oakland Tribune May 23, 1926
Oakland Tribune May 23, 1926

Much of the beauty of Smith Reserve is due to the varied groupings of oaks, ecualyptus and pine trees which cover the entire tract. The different shades of green, together with the variety of sizes and shapes of these trees afford an almost endless variety of choice to people in search of unusualsettings for distinctive homes.”

Oakland Tribune

Huge Sales!

In July of 1926, two months after the subdivision was open, the Realty Syndicate reported nearly $250,000 in sales.  It was also reported that a bus transportation system will be put into operation, connecting with both local and San Francisco electric lines. – Oakland Tribune, July 18, 1928.

“Scenic Beauty”

Oakland Tribune 1926
Oakland Tribune May 30, 1926
SF Examiner Sep 4, 1926
SF Examiner Oct 28, 1928

“The Princely Estate of F.M. “Borax” Smith”


Selected years ago by F.M. “Borax” Smith as a private estate when thousands of acres of the finest residentioal property in the East Bay were owned by him, Smith Reserve was set apart for eleborate development.”

Oakland Tribune
1912Map of Oakland and vicinity published by the Realty Union, compiled from optical and other data by T. J. Allan; T. R. Morcom

Smith built Arbor Villa on the site further down on Park Blvd.

Arbor Villa estate as seen from across Park Boulevard 

Camp Dimond

In 1919, 25 acres of the Smith Reserve was sold to the Oakland-Piedmont Council of the Boy Scouts of America, for camp for the scouts.  It was called Camp Dimond was in use from 1919-1948.

In 1948 the Oakland Public School district took over the land and built Joaquin Miller Elementary and Montera Junior High Schools.

Bus Service

In July of 1928, the Realty Syndicate inaugurated regular bus service into Montclair Highlands and Smith Reserve from the terminal at Moraga Ave and Hampton Road ( now La Salle Ave.) The buses had a regular schedule but alternated their run. would go to Smith Reserve first on one trip and go to Montclair Highlands first on the next trip.

SF Examiner Jul 28, 1928

In Smith Reserve

In September of 1928, ground was broken for two new Spanish-type homes ranging from $10,000 to $15,000 in building costs. Plans for four additional were being completed by architect Hamilton Murdock and was starting plans for three other homes. The homes embraced various types of architecture. Two homes were of the modified Spanish hacienda type with balconies overlooking the Eastbay and the Golden Gate.

S F Examiner Apr 14, 1929

One of the homes that were started in 1928 was the residence of G.O. Thomas. This home was Spanish in style and was to cost $20,000.

SF Examiner Apr 13, 1929

The Harry S. Stockman is a nine-room English-type home that cost $25,000 to build. The house has a panorama view of the hills and the Eastbay and landscaped grounds. It is located at 5640 Castle Drive at Mountain Gate.

Oakland Tribune Sep 1928
5640 Castle Drive Piedmont Pines Realtor.com
Oakland Tribune Sep 23, 1928

Panorama Home

This home is located on Ascot Court.

Oakland Tribune Oct 7, 1928

Hacienda Monterey

the brave days of dashing dons and senoritas live again at “Hacienda Monterey” in Smith Reseve.”

Oakland Tribune
Oakland Tribune May 29, 1929
SF Examiner Apr 6, 1929

Piedmont Pines

In the early 1930s, Smith Reserve was re-subdivided and renamed Piedmont Pines.

Admiring Smith Reserve

In an October 1928 edition of the Oakland Tribune, Miss Grace Valentine, staring at the Fulton Theatre acclaims.

Smith Reserve the most beautiful home-park that she had ever seen in the Eastbay” “If I were a permanent resident of the East Bay I would certainly wish to make my home in this beautiful park” – Grace Valentine

Oakland Tribune Oct 1928

New Light Beacon

Oakland Tribune Jan 27, 1929

More Info:

9 thoughts on “The Home Place of Romance – Smith Reserve

Add yours

  1. Thanks to Amela Marshall, I saw this post which is of special interest to me as my mother was Mary Evelyn Smith Beck, first of Francis and Evelyn Smith, making me their first grandchild. This is by far the most detailed compilation of the development of Oakland’s hillside property lend by The Realty Trust I have seen and will ptint this post to add to the family history collection. I will also forward Amela’s email to the other 5 surviving grandchildren, All but one of which live in CA. One of them is Francis Marion Smith III living in Nevada Co. South of Grass Valley, whose son is name Francis Marion Smith IV who is in his later teens.

    While born in Oakland, ai attended Beach Elementary and Piedmont Jr. and Sr High schools. I have lived outside of Sebastopol since Oct 1993 and am looking forward to exploring Piedmont Pines now that I know here it is.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Piedmont Pines is the pleasant neighborhood mostly downslope from Skyline Boulevard, near Chabot Space and Science Center. It is bounded by the Shepherd Canyon district to the north, and the Woodminster neighborhood and Joaquin Miller Park to the south. (According to this recovering Realtor.)
    Amelia

    Liked by 1 person

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