Montclair East is a shopping center with business offices located at 2220 Mountain Blvd. It is now called Village Square.
James Fernhoff, a local real estate broker, was the initial developer.
Sidney Chown owned the 2 1/2 acre plot before the building of Montclair East.
Sidney Chown was one of Northern California’s best-known horsemen when he died in 1961. He owned and operated grocery stores in Oakland and Berkeley.
The Chown’s purchased the land in approximately 1920. They were considered some of the founding residents in Montclair.
Chown and his friends organized Piedmont Trails Club. He built up his ranch to include 12 stalls and an arena for horses.
After his death, his wife Lucille sold the property.
During an Oakland City Planning Commission public hearing where Lucille A. Chown was asking for her property at 2220 Andrews St (the site) to be rezoned as commercial.
Fernhoff stated “the project would include parking for 110 cars, rustic architecture with shake roofs and no bowling alleys, drive-ins, car washed or super markets.” He said only ‘high class” businesses would be permitted.
Opponents, including several business owners, complained it would “spilt the business district” and isn’t needed. Apartments would be better, some said.
In August 1963, the city council approved the $750,000 project after the planning commission spilt 3-3 on its recommendation.
Montclair East Fought
In October 1963, a group of twelve property owners near the site brought a suit against the City of Oakland.
They charged that a new shopping center was unnecessary, would create traffic problems, and damage residential property values.
James Fernhoff contended that the site is unsuitable for residential development because it was the site of the future interchange of the Warren and Shepherd Canyon(unbuilt) Freeways.
The groundbreaking was held in February of 1965. A gold-plated shovel was used to break the hard old ground.
Construction and Design
Construction for Montclair East, a 1.2 million dollar shopping center, began in May of 1965.
The plans called for a 28,000 square foot building with 20,000 feet on the ground floor devoted to a restaurant and 12 shops and 7,600 feet on the second floor to eight offices. The parking lot would accommodate 111 cars.
The center was designed by Robert B. Liles, an architect from San Francisco.
First Store to Open
Jim Fox opened his fourth supermarket located in Montclair East on September 21, 1966.
The new store featuring wall-to-wall carpeting was the first to open at the shopping center. The store occupied 6,000 square feet
Captain Satellite made an appearance at the formal ceremony held the following weekend.
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
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 Homeand 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.
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.
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.
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.
Linden Street Site
In 1928, having outgrown its original location they moved to a new one on Linden Street.
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.
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.”
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
Under Siege: Construction and Care at the Fannie Wall Children’s Home and Day Nursery – Marta Gutman – Researchgate.net
A news cinema or newsreel theatre is a cinema specializing in short films, shown continuously. They also occasionally show feature films.
Newsreel Theatre on Broadway
It was announced in July of 1941 that Oakland was to have a Newsreel Theater, a sister to the one in San Francisco.
The 300 seat theater had spacious lounge rooms which provided accommodations for writing a letter, holding a business conference, reading the latest newspapers, magazines, etc.
Was Regent Theater
The building first housed the Regent Theater later the Regent Photo Theater.
In the mid-1950s, the Regent was renamed the Peerlex. The Peerlex offered three action hits for 50 cents.
By 1972 the Regent was rechristened the Pussycat Theater showing XXX adult movies.
The city of Oakland acquired the theater by eminent domain in 1987.
The theater located at 1518 Franklin opened as the Bishop Theater in 1916 and then became the Fulton Playhouse in 1918. The building was designed by Edward T. Foulkes
In 1935 the Fulton reopened as the Franklin, taking its name from the previous Franklin Theater which had closed.
The Franklin Theater closed and was reopened as the Newsreel Theater in October of 1939.
Telenews Theater at the Franklin Theater
The Newsreel Theater closed and transformed into the Telenews Theatre at Franklin and 15th opened July 18, 1941
The theatre was the first to include local newsreel stories as part of the regular week’s program. Each program or show comprised some fifty news events, including the “Ringside Seat to World War Two” series with Regan McCrary.
During the opening week, they showed a “Salute to Oakland,” a film on Oakland’s industrial, civic, and community life. The film showed the new Woodminster Amphitheater, Lake Merritt, Mills College, Oakland’s High Schools, and City Hall.
The lobby included a large “Progressive War Map,” which was updated daily. Twelve clocks, showing the current time in cities throughout Europe, American, and Asia, and a teletype machine was also in the lobby.
Franklin Theater Once Again
When Telenews took over the Fox News Theater’s operation on Broadway in 1943, this theater became the Franklin once again and showed first-run movies.
Closed and Demolished
The theater went dark in 1951.
Fox News Theater on Broadway
Located at 1906 Broadway, the 552-seat Fox News Theatre opened on July 3, 1942.
Fox Offers Timely Topics in Modern Show House.” – Oakland Tribune July 5, 1942
The Fox News Theater had a broadcasting studio in the downstairs lounge. Vital news programs, topics of the day were broadcasted on the KQW CBS outlet.
Telenews took over the operation on April 30, 1943. The theater was renamed The Broadway Telenews Theater.
On April 16, 1954, it was renamed Globe Theater and went over to screening feature films, with Dinah Sheridan in “Genevieve.” The latest newsreels were also shown.
Ostrich farming was promoted as a sound investment over a century ago. The farms, well documented on postcards, and were tourist attractions.
Ostriches were brought to the United States in the early 1880s from Africa. In the wild, they lived in warm, dry climates. Southern California seemed to have conditions similar to their natural African environment. By the late 1890s, there were eight locations in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Deigo counties.
The popularity of feathers in women’s fashion made raising the birds an attractive investment.
Farm in Oakland
In the fall of 1907, San Francisco newspapers ran an ad campaign for stock investment in an ostrich farm in Oakland.
In July of 1908, W.H.” Harvey” Bentley of the Bentley Ostrich Farm in San Diego County announced the opening of a branch in the Elmhurst District (sometimes Fruitvale) of Oakland at East 14th and High Street.
It opened on August 30th of 1908. It featured birds named Mr. and Mrs “George Dewey” (Admiral at the battle of Manila Bay) and the other Spanish American War hero from the Cuba campaign, “Fighting Bob” Evans commander of the Great White Fleet.
Forty-six birds compromised the original herd.
In 1910 it was announced that the addition of a factory to their local salesroom and yards. Which meant the hats were made in Oakland and not San Diego. For the years 1907 to 1911, ostrich plumage on women’s hats was at its peak and all the rage.
In January of 1912, the owner of the Bently Ostrich Farm, was killed in an auto accident near the San Diego farm.
His son sold the farm to a group of Oakland investors.
The name was changed to Golden State Ostrich Farm in 1913.
The farm had spacious ground floor offices and salesroom. In the sales there was a magnificent display of plumes in all sizes, prices and colors.
With the coming of World War I, as American and European women entered the workforce, utilitarian clothing replaced the flamboyant fashions of the early 1900s. Broader hats were pinned up with a broach or artificial flower.
Plucking is Painless”
Oakland Tribune May 01, 1952
The bird is shoved into a corner by several men. A hood is placed over the birds head. The plume is cut leaving about an inch of quill in the flesh. The quill would soon fall out.
Golden State Ostrich Farm in Oakland filed for bankruptcy in early 1915.
“Whole Ostrich for the Price of a Feather”
The press announcement said it was now cheaper to buy the entire ostrich than the amount once paid for the feathers to adorn a hat.
The ostrich farms in northern California had all but failed by 1915. The “industry” had a brief heyday, and in the end, defeat by war and a significant fashion change in hats.
The world’s largest and fully mechanized mail handling facility designed to serve central California and the Pacific ocean area
Postmaster General – Aug 1959
It was announced the facility would be built on a 12-block site in West Oakland bounded by Peralta, 7th and Wood Streets, and the Southern Pacific railroad yards.
The postmaster general officially named the Oakland project “Project Gateway”
City officials were excited that construction will begin in about one year. They expected an Oakland payroll of some 750 workers and the clearing of some 20 acres of sub-standard homes for a significant redevelopment project.
Oakland Mayor Clifford E Rishell noted that the post office project presents some significant problems – chiefly the relocation of some 300 families (about 1000 people) in the project area.
The Oakland Redevelopment Agency was in charge of the relocation. A survey at the time determined that half of the 300 families had moderate incomes that will permit them to rent or purchase a home in other sections of the city. The other half will probably require public housing.
The job we face isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible
Arthur Hoff – Oakland Redevelopment Agency
One of West Oakland’s most revered landmarks was lost with the razing of the New Century Recreation Center and the adjoining school property at Atlantic, Pacific, and Peralta Avenues.
Also lost in the project would be a junkyard, few businesses, and McFeely School, which opened in 1949.
In a March 1960 special meeting of city officials and postal officials were told 34 families had already received eviction notices. The families lived in homes already sold the government by Southern Pacific. 21 families had already found new homes.
August 1, 1960, was when they were to begin clearing the site,
A squadron of bulldozers was set to plow into the 12-block place of buildings. All put 12 parcels of the 187 total had been acquired in negotiation. Commendation orders were entered for the holdouts.
The postal officials were perplexed when building wrecker Aldo S. Allen submitted a low bid of $64,000 to clear the 20-acre site for Project Gateway. He was $10,000 lower than the next lowest bid and $50,000 lower than the highest bid.
“I got an idea” Allen a one time midget car racer explained.
Aldo S. Allen – 81st Ave Oakland CA
His idea consisted of $2,000 purchasing a surplus Sherman Tank of World War II vintage, a 73,000- pound dreadnaught powered by a 500 horsepower engine. The tank would be much more powerful, faster, and safer.
He was Right!
Aldo climbed into the tank, which was in front of a row of six houses. He first practiced on a tree.
SNAP! Down went the tree.
Without pausing, he went towards the first house and bore a tunnel through the house. The second story remained intact. Again he aimed for the home, there was a roar, and the second story came down burying the tank for a moment.
10 Minutes Flat! The time to clear the first house
It took 90 minutes to flatten and remove all 6 houses
Before and After
Post office Site Now A Dump
In 1963 after five year of post office promises the city demanded action. The site had become a 12-block dumping ground. The city was losing money $22,000 in tax dollars and $50, 000 lost in additional school taxes. They were told that construction was set to begin in 1964. By July of 1967 the building was nearly one-third complete. Belated effects of a long wet winter have moved the opening date to March 1969.
The William M Stephens family was a very successful African American family from Oakland. They owned the Stephens Restaurant, and Virginia, their daughter, won acclaim at the age of fourteen when her name “Jewel City” was selected for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition buildings in a competition sponsored by the San Francisco Call-Post. Virginia went on to be the first African American woman to receive a law degree University of California Berkeley’sBoalt School of Law in 1929.
The Stephens Family
William Stephens was born in 1870 in Accomack County, Virginia. He moved out to California while still a child and attended school in Oakland and San Francisco. After graduation, Stephens completed coursework at Heald College before taking a job with the Southern Pacific Railwayin 1886. Beginning as a Sleeping Car Porter, he worked his way up to a clerkship under H.E. Huntington, assistant to the company’s President.
In 1894 he lived at 1132 Linden Street in West Oakland.
In 1898, Stephens resigned from Southern Pacific and took a position with the Crocker family, traveling with them throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Through these travels, Stephens learned about the hotel and restaurant business.
In 1901, he married Pauline Logan (1874-1929) of Tehama, California.
Pauline gave birth to one daughter, Annie Virginia (who went by Virginia), on April 7, 1903. Due to his daughter’s health problems as a young girl, Stephens resigned from his post with the Crockers and began working at an Oakland social club. He moved on from this position in 1915 to manage the clubhouse at the Hotel Del Monte Golf and Country Club in Monterey County.
Pauline died in May of 1929
William died on November 21, 1932
Eventually, Stephens opened his own restaurant in Oakland. Known as Stephens’ Restaurant, it grew from small quarters into an ample establishment seating over 200 people, occupying three locations near Lake Merritt.
During the 1920s and 1930s, the restaurant enjoyed great success and was usually filled to capacity. Stephens took great delight in employing African American high school and college students so they could earn money for their education.
In 1936 the restaurant added a cocktail lounge and was under the management of George Devant and Charles Simpson ( Stephens nephew.)
Know to gourmets for years as the
home of real southern cooking”
Stephen’s daughter, Virginia, won acclaim at the age of fourteen when her name “Jewel City” was selected for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition buildings in a competition sponsored by the San Francisco Call-Post.
Virginia attended the University of California at Berkeley and received a bachelor’s degree in science in 1924.
Encouraged by her father to attend law school, she enrolled in Boalt School of Law at UC Berkeley and earned a degree in 1929. At that time, she was only the second woman to receive a law degree from the school and the first African American woman to complete the program. Virginia passed the California Bar in the same year, the first African American female Attorney in California.
While at Berkeley, Virginia and Ida L. Jackson were charter members Rho Chapter in 1921 and Alpha Nu Omega, a graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha. These were among the first Greek sororities for African American women west of the Mississippi.
Virginia married attorney George Coker (1906-1970). The Cokers helped tutor African American students for the State bar exams. They moved to Virginia and maintained a private law practice there for almost a decade.
In 1939 after working in private practice for ten years, they moved back to California, settling in Sacramento. Virginia received an appointment as Attorney in the State Office of the Legislature Council in Sacramento in May 1939. In this capacity, she helped with drafting and amending legislative bills, and worked under four different legislative councils:
Upon her retirement in 1966, Virginia had attained the position of Deputy of the Indexing Section. Virginia died in Sacramento at the age of 83 on February 11, 1986.
In 1924 brothers Paul and Herman Pause formed Montclair Realty Co. Before that, Paul worked for the Realty Syndicate.
The business district of Montclair looked like this when Montclair Realty was formed. Cos. Williams, a builder, was the only other business at that time.
In 1932 they moved into their new offices at6466 Moraga Avenue. The building was occupied by B. Brooks, another real estate agent. The building was still standing in 2019.
6466 Moraga Avenue – 2019
Montclair Highlands “All the World No View Like his”
In 1928 Montclair Realty was the developer and selling agents for a new tract behind the business district of Montclair. One of the first homes was the “Model View Home,” built-in 1928. Please see my page on this – The Highest Home in Oakland
In 1934 Montclair Realty celebrated its 10th anniversary. During this time, they specialized in the development of the Montclair area. Oakland Tribune 1934
In 1937 Paul Pause announced that Montclair Realty Company had a new home. The new two-story building was designed by Harvey Slocombe in an authentic Spanish style, complete with patio and tile roof. Howard Gilkey developed the garden.
Dramatically different the Pent House Model home brings to you “Ideas of 1938” in colorful interior finishes and modern furnishings. – Oakland Tribune 1937
The building was demolished in 1961 to make room for the expansion of the Standard Station next door.
Silver Anniversary – 1949
Paul Pause was a founding member of the Montclair Improvement Club. He was a member of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce residential committee and its highway and transportation committee. He was also a member of the Commonwealth Club.
Death and New Owners
Paul Pause died in 1950. He was an essential figure in the development of Montclair since the beginning.
Lucille Chasnoff purchased the company sometime after Pause died in 1950. John Mallett purchased the company from her.
New Office in 1954-56
In 1954 a new office building was built at 2084 Mountain Blvd. Montclair Realty offices were on the ground floor. It was the only office building that had its own off-street parking. The offices featured gold walls with charcoal woodwork with built-in desks and partitions. In 2019 a brand new building replaced the old and outdated Montclair Realty Office Building.