Posted in Buildings, Business, Downtown

Money-Back Smith

Originally called “The Famous Clothing Company.” Later it was renamed “Smith’s Money-Back Store and Money-Back Smith.”  You probably knew it as Smith’s Department Store.

William Smith founded the first store in Oakland in 1885 (according to the Oakland Tribune)

Unique Nickname

“Money Refunded If Goods Are Not Satisfactory.”

Oakland Tribune

Willam “Money-Back” Smith

His friends, relatives, neighbors, and patrons were so used to the policy of ‘money-back” being associated with William Smith that became his nickname.

First Store

The first store was on Broadway, between 7th and 8th Street, later moving one block to 9th Street.

Brilliant Opening 

Oakland Tribune

The Famous Clothing Company proprietors held a grand opening reception on March 16, 1892, at 909 and 911 Broadway.

The Berkeley Gazette March 18, 1904

In 1896, Smith chose a new location at 10th and Washington, where the firm remained until 1912.

They then moved to 12th and Washington, which was enlarged and modernized several times.

1935-Blake Estate Co. building (the Blake Block) W. F. Woolworth, Money Back Smith inM.L. Cohen Co., photographers, for Downtown Property Owners Association, Inc. :Permission to use this image must be obtained from the Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.

Another New Location

Circa 1933 – M. K. Blake building (the Blake Block), southwest corner of 12th Street and Washington Money Back Smith in view. M.L. Cohen Co., photographers, for Downtown Property Owners Association, Inc. Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.

By 1912 the store was located at 12th and Washington Streets, and it was called “Money-Back Smith.”

Circa 1935 -M. K. Blake building (the Blake Block),.12th and Washington Money Back Smith in view. Downtown Property Owner’s Association. Volume 4. . M.L. Cohen Co., photographers, for Downtown Property Owners Association, Inc.

“Charge It” Plan

Oakland Tribune 1940

Breaking all precedents, Money-Back Smiths had for 54 years had a “cash only” policy offered a liberal 90-day charge plan. The plan had no downpayment, no interest, and no carrying charge.

More than 10,000 Eastbay residents opened accounts in the first six months. 

Charge it!”

They made the term “Charge it” a common word in the vocabulary. Smith declared September 27, 1940

55th Anniversary 

“Founded back in 1886 – literally the horse and buggy days of the city, the store has grown with Oakland.”

Oakland Tribune September 27, 1940

“We Couldn’t possibly cut a birthday cake large enough for all the of our customers, and so were cutting prices instead.”

Expansion

Blake Block [ SW corner of 12th and Washington.
Creator/Contributor:Cohen, Moses L., 1884-1975.
Downtown Property Owners Association (Oakland, Calif.).
Date:1944

In 1941 the store embarked on a program of remodeling and expansion that doubled its size. Two additional floors were added, which gave them three floors for selling merchandise.

Oakland Tribune Dec 1951

In 1945, the store acquired 30,000 Sq.Ft. of additional space in the Blake Building on Washington Street.

M. K. Blake Estate Co. building (the Blake Block), southwest corner of 12th and Washington Streets. Smith’s in view. – 1949, Jun. 27 . Camera Corner, photographers, for Downtown Property Owners Association, Inc. RIGHTS:Permission to use this image must be obtained from the Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.

First Western Bank Building

Oakland Tribune 1955

In 1955 the old Henshaw Building at 14th and Broadway, built-in 1891, was demolished. The Henshaw building housed the MacDonough Theatre, one of Oakland’s first legitimate showhouses.

The First Western Bank Building was completed in 1958.

Image
Smith’s Downtown Oakland 1965 -https://twitter.com/christreadway

Location : 1330 Broadway Oakland CA

Smith’s Clothiers

Smith’s opened 24 stores throughout Northern California and Nevada.  

In 1988 after 102 years in business, closed its doors.

Press Democrat 1988

More Info:

There is some confusion as to when the store was located where. I tried my best.

The End

Posted in Buildings, East Oakland, Fruitvale, Homes, Lake Merritt

More Mansions

More on the mansions that once graced the streets of Oakland

Koa Hall – Bailey Mansion

W. H. Bailey, who owned plantations in Hawaii, hired W.J. Mathews to designed his home and cost $70,000 to build circa 1889.

Bailey Mansion on Jackson Street – 1898 Oliver Family Photograph Collections Bancroft Library http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/kt0n39q1p1

The woodwork of the main hall was the beautiful koa from the Hawaiian Islands. By the main staircase, there were carvings of koa. The woodwork in the reception-room on one side of the hall was bird’s- eye maple. Antique oak was used in the library and the dining room.

Oakland Tribune May 31, 1891
Oakland Tribune May 31, 1891

It was converted into a rooming or boarding house’

Oakland Tribune March 11, 1916

Sometime in the late 1920s the old mansion was razed and the Hotel Lakehurst was built.

Oakland Tribune Feb 02, 1930

It is now called Lakehurst Hall.

Location: 1369 Jackson St now 1569 Jackson Street at the corner of 17th Street.

More Info:

The Old Brown Home

The three-story, five-bedroom home was built in 1872 by Dr. Samuel Merritt.

In 1874 Roland Geir Brown purchased the home.

Mr. Brown sold sewing machines for Grover and Baker. The Oakland Tribune reports that Brown was one of the wealthiest men in 19th Century Oakland.

 Roland G. Brown, with two other adults, in carriage. – Courtesy of UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library – http://www.oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/kt409nc89b/?order=1

The Brown home was less than a block from Lake Merritt. This was before the lake shore was filled in.

Brown House

When President William McKinley was in the Bay Area for a week in May 1901, he visited the Brown home.

Oakland Tribune July 25, 1956

The old Brown home at 1889 Jackson Street was demolished in 1956 to make room for a parking lot.

Location: 1889 Jackson – between 17th and 19th Streets

More Info:

The Other Brown Mansion

Albert Brown came to Oakland in 1887 from New Jersey. He was an undertaker and a prominent lodge man.

Albert Brown Home on Alice Street

Boarding Home

Sometime after Brown’s’ death, the mansion was converted into a boarding house. The Alice-Lake Apartments are now located in the spot.

Location: 1387 Alice Street

More Info:

Alexander Mansion

“Aloha, nui,” or “Love be unto you.”  Is carved above one of the entrances

Samuel T. Alexander came to Oakland from Hawaii in the early 1880s. He was one of the founders of Alexander & Baldwin, an American company that cultivated sugar cane. 

Oakland Tribune

In 1882 Alexander purchased a lot on the northwest corner of Sixteenth and Filbert for $6,000.

Artistic Homes of California
Artistic Homes of California

The three-story Queen Anne style home was designed by Clinton Day was completed in 1883 at the cost of $20.000

Move to Piedmont 

The family lived there until 1912 when Mrs. Alexander moved to Piedmont to be closer to her son, Wallace Alexander. 

Rooming House

Sometime after 1912, the mansion was converted to a rooming house renting out rooms until the mid -1960s.

Oakland Tribune 1919
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Oakland, Alameda County, CaliforniaVol 1 1903

New Life for Old Mansion

In 1967 the once venerable mansion stood deserted and in despair, its windows boarded or broken was scheduled to be demolished.

Members of the Oak Center Neighborhood Association decided the old mansion could receive a face lift and become a community “Neighborhood House.” The demolition was halted.

Oakland Tribune 1967

The visualized the rehabilted building comprising of office space for the Oak Center Association, a children’s library and study hall, an adult library and reading room, a large all-purpose room for meetings and socials and room for individual and group counseling.

Vandals Strike

The group succeeded in saving the old mansion from the wreckers only to have it nearly demolished anyway –by vandals. The house was broken into and ruined beyond repair and was finally demolished in 1968.

Quinn Home

To make room for Highway 980 the William H. Quinn Home at 1425 Castro Street was moved to 1004-06 16th Street.

William H. Quinn House, 1425 Castro Street, Oakland, Alameda County, CA – Library of Congress – https://www.loc.gov/item/ca0017/

Location: 1006 – 16th Street

More Info:

Hush Mansion – Etnemere

It was built in 1865, the 14-room house of rococo architecture. The barn had room for ten horses and room for 20 tons of hay.

Oakland Tribune

The house had 14 rooms made of redwood. The barn had room for 10 horses

Oakland Tribune

The mansion had a wood and coal furnace, and the radiators are believed to have been the earliest models of that kind in the country. The rooms were paneled with massives doors 9 feet high. Beautiful mirrors adorned the wall.

Oakland Tribune

It was reported that Susan B. Anthony once slept there.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Oakland, Alameda County, CaliforniaVol 2 1903

The house and barn property was purchase by Marston Campbell, Jr, as an investment. It was torn down in 1948.

The Hush Mansion Today – google maps

Location: 1401 28th Avenue on East 14th.

More Info:

Once owned by Merritt

In 1877 Dr. Samuel Merritt built a three-story home on Jackson Street. The house had bay windows, a front porch, and cone-shaped peaked.

The lot is part of the 45-acre parcel, which Merritt paid $4,000 in 1852.

Oakland Tribune 1963

The house was purchased from Dr. Merritt in 1880 for $12,050 by John A. Stanley as a wedding gift for his daughter and her husband, Thomas Coghill.

The Coghill family lived there until 1920 when they sold it to John C. Money. After Mr. Money died in 1944, it served as a rooming house.

By 1963 it was the last of the old mansions on the block and was demolished to make room for a 32-unit apartment building.

Oakland Tribune Jan 05, 1964

Location: 1514 Jackson Street

More Info:

Orange Street Mansion

Edward P. Flint, a land developer, and San Francisco businessman, moved to Oakland in 1860. He lived at 13th and Clay before moving to this house.

Oakland Tribune 1964

The site where he built the house at 447 Orange Street was a part of a larger parcel he subdivided in Adams Point.

After Flint died, Admiral Thomas S. Phelps purchased the property. Phelps was a veteran of the Spanish American War.   In 1939 the property was purchased by M.A. Marquard, and lived in the house until 1964.

The house was demolished in 1964 and replaced with a “modern 28-unit apartment building.

The new structure has 15 two-bedroom and 12 one-bedroom apartments, plus a penthouse. The building was designed by Al Colossi. and is located at 447 Orange Street.

 Mr. and Mrs. Marquard lived in the penthouse of the new apartment.

More Info:

The End

Posted in Buildings, Early Montclair, Montclair

Members Build Clubhouse

“We are building this clubhouse beyond our immediate requirement but with an eye to the future”   

Mrs. E.T. Jepson Nov 08, 1925

A New Clubhouse

Press release

“A very handsome $10,000 structure is planned for the Montclair Clubhouse. It will be 109 by 40 feet and will contain a large auditorium, stage, dressing room, dining room, kitchen, check room, restroom, and basement space, which will be utilized as billiard room.”

Oakland Tribune

Construction Started

The groundbreaking celebration was held in March of 1925 at the junction of Thorn Road (now Thornhill Drive) and Mountain Blvd.

Members of the Montclair Improvement Club in November of 1925 and began constructing the new clubhouse. 

New Clubhouse Opens

In March of 1926, the Montclair Improvement Club held the $ 20,000 Montclair Community clubhouse formal dedication.

The structure is one-story and is of Spanish architecture. Features included an auditorium with stage and fireplace, dining and reception rooms, an electrically equipped kitchen.

Montclarion

John Perona was the builder who donated his services. Contributions of labor from club members reduced the cost of construction.

They also planned to have tennis and handball courts, a playground for children, and a golf course.

In March of 1926, the Montclair Improvement Club held their first dance at the new clubhouse.

A Bit of History

The beginnings of the Montclair Improvement Club can be traced back to as early as 1923. 

Oakland Tribune March 1923

After a few years, it became the Montclair Bussiness Assoc.

Montclarion

Membership was made up of residents of Montclair, Merriewood, and Forest Park.

Copy of Newsletter

The Women’s Auxiliary to the Montclair Improvement Club was also formed in 1923. The name was changed to Montclair Women’s Club in 1925 when it became affiliated with the California Federation of Women’s Clubs

Montclair Women’s Clubhouse

In May of 1928, the women’s club purchased the clubhouse from Montclair Improvement Club.

Oakland Tribune 1928

They held their first dance in August of 1928.

Clubhouse Damaged in Fire

In November of 1928, a fire damaged the interior of the clubhouse. 

Oakland Tribune November 10, 1928

Clubhouse is Sold

In 1996 the Montclair Women’s Club was sold. From 1996 until 2015, it was an events center called the Montclair Women’s Cultural Arts Club.

Stunning Montclair Facility For Sale – website

It is now the KSS Immersion Preschool of Oakland.

The Clubhouse today

Google Maps
Google Maps

More Info:

Location: 1650 Mountain Blvd Oakland

Posted in Buildings, Districts/Neighborhoods, East Oakland, Public Housing, Schools, Urban Renewal

Clinton Park Urban Renewal Project

The nation’s first federally assisted rehabilitation project.

Oakland Tribune

Federal Housing Act of 1954

In 1955 a 125 block area bounded by E. 21st Street, 14th Avenue, E. 12th Street, and Lake Merritt was chosen as the “study area” for urban renewal.

Clinton Park urban renewal plan (project no. Calif. R-2), City of Oakland, California -November 1957-HathiTrust

In October of 1955, Oakland applied to the Federal Government to formally designate an 80 block area of East Oakland bordering Lake Merritt as its first urban renewal project.

First in the West

The area was Oakland’s first concentrated action against blight and substandard housing.  

Clinton Park was a conservation project, the first of this type in the Western United States. 

When the project began in July 1958, the area covered 282 acres contained approximately 1,358 structures and 4,750 dwelling units. Clinton Park Project is bounded by Lake Merritt, 14th Avenue, East 21st. and East 14th Streets

The field office for the project was located at 1626 6th Avenue. The field office, an example of urban renewal in action –was a 50-year old house that was located at 1535 10th Avenue.

Oakland Gets U.S. Grant

In December of 1955, the Federal Government earmarked $1 210,000 for Oakland’s Clinton Park Urban Renewal Program. This amount was two-thirds of the anticipated total cost.

New School – Recreation Center

“heart of the Clinton Park urban renewal area.”

The new Franklin School served as an educational and recreational facility and the nucleus of the project. The revised plans for the site called for the additional area and a recreation center to be added. The school replaced the old school building condemned as an earthquake hazard.

Oakland acquired property to double the playgrounds of Franklin School.

The new school opened in September of 1956.

Oakland Tribune September 1956
Franklin School Today – 2020 by Littledots

Due to many problems in acquiring property for the expanded facility, the Recreation Center and Playground area’s completion was delayed until the summer of l 961.

Oakland Tribune October 1960
1010 East 15th – today

Our City Oakland

In 1956 the Oakland Junior Chamber Committee of the Chamber of Commerce produced a movie on Oakland’s urban renewal program.
The movie, entitled ” Our City Oakland.”

Our City Oakland – American City 
Dedicated to Oakland Urban Renewal program for the elevation of human and property values of its neighborhoods .

The film (in color with sound)shows examples of Oakland’s slum dwellings, and census figures at the time showed Oakland more than 15,000 such structures (Wow!)

The film also tells of the work in Clinton Park.

Project Launched

In July of 1957, a wrecking crew started the demolition of eight houses near the new Franklin School. This would be the location of the new recreation center.

Oakland Tribune July 1957
Oakland Tribune June 30, 1957

Older Home Gets New Life

In 1956, the Greater Eastbay Associated Homebuilders purchased a 50-year-old home at 1535 10th Avenue.

Oakland Tribune April 1956
Oakland Tribune April 1956

Home and Garden Show

The house was moved from its lot to become an exhibit at the Home and Garden Show.

Oakland Tribune April 1956

It was completely remodeled as a part of Oakland’s Operation Home Improvement Campaign.

Oakland Tribune April 1956

 Following the show, the home was moved to and used as the Clinton Park Project field office.

The office was located at 1621 6th Avenue.

Oakland Tribune 1963

Looks like the house was moved sometime in the mid 1960s. A church is there now.

A Rehab Project

The homes at 624 and 630 Foothill Blvd

Many New Apartment Buildings

From 1956 to 1962, 57 new apartment buildings were constructed. By 1960 $4,000,000 had been spent on new apartment construction.

First Project

The ground was broken in May of 1956 for the first significant construction project for Clinton Park.  

Robert A. Vandenbosch designed the 32-unit apartment building at 1844 7th Avenue and East 19th Street.

 The three-story structure was built around an inner court that has balconies overlooking the court from every apartment.

Now called Casa Simone –

New Apartment Project

Looking from East 18th towards 12th Avenue Photo by Cheney Photo Advertising 1919

A new 12-unit apartment building replaced a “dilapidated” single-family dwelling at 12th Avenue and East 18th Street.

Oakland Tribune

The old structure was located at 1755 12th Avenue, was built in 1900. It had been converted illegally to an eight-unit apartment.

The structure costs $75.000 to build.

1133 East 18th Street

Garden Type Apartment

In 1958 a new $400,000 apartment was built at 1125 East 18th Street.

Oakland Tribune 1958

Two old homes and their outbuildings were razed to make room for the 40-unit two-story building with parking for the 24 cars on the ground floor.

1125 East 18th – Google Maps

An eight-unit apartment building at 645 Foothill Blvd was under construction at the same time.

Clinton Park Manor

Clinton Park Manor, a 144-unit complex, was built in 1958 at the cost of $1,400,000.  

  • 24 efficiency units
  • 50 one-bedroom units
  • 46 two-bedroom units
  • 24 three-bedroom units

Architect Cecil S. Moyer designed the four three-story structures with a landscaped courtyard in the middle.

It is now called Oakbrook Manor – 1229 East 19th Street

The complex is bounded by 12th and 13th Avenues and East 19th and East 20th Streets.

Google Maps

One of Oakland’s first schools, Brooklyn Grammar School, was built on the site in 1863. It was renamed Swett School in 1874, and in 1882 a new school Bella Vista was built there. Bella Vista School was razed in 1951.

The Valhalla Apartments

In March of 1960, a three-story 48-unit apartment building was built on the northeast corner of 12th Avenue and East 17th Street at the cost of $556,000.

Architect Cecil Moyer also designed this building. The new building contained (it might still have the same layout):

  • 3- bachelor apartments
  • 24- one-bedroom apartments
  • 11- two-bedroom apartments
  • 10- three-bedroom apartments

The courtyard had a swimming pool.

1720 12th Ave Google Maps

Six old homes, some dating back to the 1890s, were demolished to clear the site.

Today it is call Cambridge Terrace Apartments

Apartments

A partial list of the new apartment buildings

  • 2225-7th Avenue – 1957
  • 1618-6th Avenue – 1957
  • 1640 -6th Avenue -1957
  • 602 Foothill – remodeled
  • 1925-35 10th Avenue – 1960

New Supermarket

In 1960 Safeway Stores Inc. built a new 20,000 square foot building and a parking lot on 14th Avenue.

The Architects were Wurster, Bernardi, and Emmons of San Francisco.

1711 14th Avenue – Today – Google Maps

Loops’ for Traffic

To meet the problem of through traffic on a residential street, which caused neighborhood deterioration. Forty-seven intersections were marked to be altered, either to divert automobiles to through streets by way of traffic “loops.” or slow them down with curb extensions.

The traffic-diverting “loops” will be landscaped areas extending diagonally across intersections.

The result of these intersections was that through traffic in the project area is limited to 5th, 8th Avenues, north and south, East 21st Street, Foothill Blvd, and East 15th Street, east-west.

The Diverters -Google Maps

Diverters were placed at East 19th Street and 6th and 11th Avenues and East 20th Street at 7th and 10th Avenues. Also at East 20th Street and 12th Avenue.

Discouragers were also placed at East 20th Street and 13th Avenue and East 19th Street and 13th Avenue.

New Mercury Lights and Traffic Signals

Excerpts of articles from the Oakland Tribune 1960

Other features of the program included:

  • New Recreation Center
  • Widening of several streets and the installation of curbs and sewers.
  • Planting of 1,600 trees about 20 per block.
  • Construction of pedestrian overpasses over Foothill Blvd and East 15th Street for safe access to Franklin School.
  • Installation of new street lighting, street signs, and traffic signs.

Beautiful Homes of Clinton Park

Project Report

By March of 1962, 1,081 structures, containing 3,056 dwelling units have been repaired to eliminate all code. Violation. There have been ll7 structures demolished during the same period.   

Final report of Oakland Renewal Foundation, Inc. on Clinton Park Project, Oakland, California. – @HathiTrust

During this same period, 57 new apartment buildings were constructed within the project area, adding l,l08 new units to the existing housing supply. 

More Info:

Oakland (Calif.). Housing Division. (, 1962). Clinton Park: a historical report on neighborhood rehabilitation in Oakland, California. Oakland, Calif.: The Dept.

Clinton – Oakland Local Wiki

The End

Posted in Buildings, Montclair, Then and Now, Uncategorized

A Storybook Firehouse

In the beginning

 There was temporary station at the corner of Moraga and Hampton (now La Salle). Local builder Cos Williams a local builder donated the use of the land. 

An average day

Report at 9 am – They would report for duty at the station and 13th and Hopkins (now MacArthur), and drive the hook and ladder up to Montclair. They did all their cooking on an outdoor camp stove

Off at 7 pm – At the end of they would pile onto the truck again and drive down the hill.

Lieutenant F.H. Waldron was the commanding officer. 

  • L.W. Parks – driver
  • E.E. Terrell – driver
  • F.W. Cochran – hoseman
  • C.A Stone 

They fought two fires on their first day.

Engine Company No. 24

In June of 1926, $11,000 was appropriated for a new firehouse in Montclair. The city purchased the land from the school department in December of 1926 for $4,500. The final construction cost was $18,900.

Original Blueprints – Eldred E. Edwards 1927

Construction of the new firehouse got underway in early 1927.  Fire Commissioner Colburn officially accepted the firehouse in August of 1927.

The land that the firehouse is on was once the Hays Canyon School.

Plans were drawn up by Eldred E. Edwards of the Oakland Public Works Department.

The style of architecture is primarily Old English. The construction method was unique among firehouses at that time, being pre-cast of cement, molded on the ground. All the plumbing fixtures and water pipes, conduits for electrical wires were cast in cement.

Storybook-style fire house in the Montclair district of Oakland, California. 1928 ohrphoto.firedept.006.


The roof consisted of 100 curved slabs of concrete set in grooved beams and held in place with slotted bolts.


Doubled copper strips run along the ridges and form decorative motifs at the gable peaks. These decorations simulate fire, which follows along the peaked roofline and leaps into flames and gable corners. The copper has been painted white.

Work was done in 1934 as part of the WPA. Oakland Tribune 1934
A firetruck for fighting hills fires on view in the foreground. 1934, ohrphoto.districts.031.

Fire Captain Killed in the Line of Duty

Fire Captain Joseph F. Pimentel was killed, and three firemen were injured when their fire truck skidded out of control at the corner of Taurus and Broadway Terrace. Pimentel was pinned against a tree.

The fire truck was headed to a small blaze at the home of Otto R. Johnson at 6356 Crown Avenue.

January 22, 1942

Oakland Tribune Jan 22, 1942

The injured firemen were Patrick S. Doyle, John Baratini, and Ray O. Wells.

Oakland Tribune Jan 22, 1946

Oakland’s Best Decorated Firehouse

In 1951 Engine Company No. 24 was awarded the first prize of $500.00 for being Oakland’s best decorated firehouse. The Oakland Tribune also awarded the firehouse a perpetual trophy, which was installed in the house.

The firehouse was an old church scene, with a “Surrey with a Fringe on Top” arriving. Animated choir boys accompanied by an old pump organ, are shown singing Christmas carols.

Christmas Chapel with Choir1951

In 1952 they erected an old-time country store… complete with pot-bellied stove and family photographs and animated figures. Inside a clerk is showing a blushin customer, a lady, a pair of “long john” underwear. Nearby is a blacksmith shop. There was a large holly wreath on front of the firehouse.

Oakland Tribune December 1952

In 1953 the firehouse was decorated as a church with a choir loft and organ. A special merit award was given to the house by the SF Examiner.

Oakland Tribune Dec 18, 1953

Montclair Fires and Such

Montclarion 1955
Oakland Tribune 1953
Montclarion 1957 on the 30th Anniversary

Teddy of Engine No. 24

Oakland Tribune

Earthquake Hazard – 1960s

The Hayward Fault runs right down the middle of Moraga Avenue in front of the firehouse.

Because of that, the firehouse was determined to be an earthquake hazard and could not be repaired. The city hired Anderson, Simonds, Dusel and Campini to provide architectural services for a new firehouse.

Oakland Tribune 1962

The city was prepared to tear down the Montclair firehouse and build a new one for $165,000. After an outside firm determined it was indeed unsafe to that day’s standards.

Oakland Tribune December 27, 1963

City Delays Replacing Firehouse

In October of 1962, Oakland’s City Council held up the money to build a new firehouse and wondered if the money could be used to “repair” it instead.

The firehouse is called ” the country club of the city” and “if it is unsafe so’s my house.”

Councilmember 1962

There was a dispute over the city manager’s report that the firehouse was damaged enough during a recent earthquake (??)to make it a hazard to its occupants. One architect said it could be repaired at little expanse with some structural steel.

“two independent consultants said the building is unsafe and should be replaced.

Oakland City Manager 1962

I can only assume that Oakland had money problems b they were no longer going to build a new firehouse. Instead, the council approved $22,000 for structural reinforcements, waterproof, and more habitable.

Contract Awarded

Oakland Tribune Jan 22, 1964

In January 1964, a contract was awarded to M.W. Garing for $13,975 to repair the firehouse.

Loma Prieta – 1989

The firehouse was damaged in in the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. The house was decommissioned in 1991.

Oakland City Landmark #34

On March 18, 1980, the old fire station was designated as Oakland City Landmark #34 

Address: 6226 Moraga Avenue, Oakland, California

Firehouse Today

  • Fire Station was decommissioned around 1993 due to concerns that a facility for first responders should not be located on an active earthquake fault,” a city report stated.

In 2018 City officials announce that they were seeking development or purchase proposals for two parcels on Moraga Road. One is a vacant property totaling 24,000 square feet and the other totals 16,000 square feet and contains the Montclair Fire Station, also known as Firehouse No. 24.

Firehouse For Sale – Loopnet 
Firehouse For Sale – Loopnet 

More Info:

You can view the set of blueprints here:

Montclair Firehouse Blueprints – Dropbox

The End

Posted in East Oakland, Elmhurst, History, Parks, Uncategorized

Oakland Zoo in Knowland Park

  • Open Daily: Monday – Friday: 10:00am – 4:00pm, Saturday, Sunday, Select Holidays: 10:00am – 4:00pm
  • Address: 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA 94605

Covid-19

In accordance with Alameda County’s order for residents to ‘shelter in place’ for the well-being of public and staff related to COVID-19 precautionary measures, Oakland Zoo will be closed Tuesday, March 17 and remain closed until the order is lifted.

Oakland Zoo Closed — Effective Tuesday, March 17

We need your support more now than ever to care for the animals you know and love. Please help sustain Oakland Zoo – your Zoo – during this difficult time.

The Oakland Zoo Animal Care Fund

Oakland Accepts Zoo

Henry A. Snow, a naturalist, collector, and African big game hunter, established the Oakland Zoo in downtown Oakland. The first Zoo was located at 19th and Harrison. The area is now known as Snow Park.

In February of 1923, the city of Oakland accepted Snow’s collection of wild animals. The collection was valued from $30,000 to $80,000.

“On behalf of the city of Oakland, we are delighted to accept this valuable collection.”

Oakland Tribune Feb 1923

Two lion cubs and a boa-constrictor formed the nucleus, with various monkeys, bobcats, a cinnamon bear, a mountain lion, and a badger completed the menagerie.

We’ve Moved!

After many complaints were filed with the city council and the park board from the neighborhood residents around the Zoo, who said the collection of animals were a nuisance.

Oakland Tribune 1925

The new location was in Sequoia Mountain Park (now a part of Joaquin Miller Park.)

In 1926 Henry Snow had a stroke and died in July of 1927. Snow’s son Sidney Snow continued in father’s footsteps.

In 1936, Snow established the nonprofit organization East Bay Zoological Society, which was incorporated as the  Alameda County Botanical and Zoological Society. 

The new Society was seeking to move the animals to the 500-acre Durant Park.

Durant Park

In 1939 the Zoo moved from Joaquin Miller Park to Durant Park.

Miss Effie with Sidney Snow, March 1952
© Oakland Tribune (archives)

Durant Park was once the home to R.C. Durant, the President of Durant Motors. Before that, the land from owned by F.C. Talbot. The park is located at the top of 98th Avenue.

Rosebud Dancing to Shake, Rattle and Roll 1955
Sid Snow with Baby Tigers circa 1950
Oakland Tribune May 22, 1950

Knowland State Arboretum and Park and Zoo

Visitors enter the Oakland Zoo in Knowland Park through the landscape of the Historical Park and Arboretum. The trees throughout this area are the remnants of the Frederick Talbot estate (see Edenvale.)

Trees in the Meadow – Knowland Park 1937

A row of Canary Island Palm marks the park entry. There are Mexican Fan Palms, Chilean Palms, and exotic Bunya Bunya Trees from Australia in the meadow and picnic grounds. These trees were all planted early part of the 1900s.

Knowland Park consists of approximately 443 acres, of which 350 acres are in the undeveloped Upper Knowland Park. The Zoo (in 1996) had 56 acres within the Historical Park, and 37 acres are in the Zoological Park.

Oakland Tribune 1948

Under a contract with the City of Oakland, the East Bay Zoological Society (EBZS) has full responsibility for the operation, maintenance, and development of the 37-acre Zoo and the 443 acres of Knowland Park.

Improvements 1957-1966

Miss Effie – new home

The first significant addition was the construction enclosure for Miss Effie, the elephant, at the cost of $15,000. The move from the lower park to the upper area began. Video of Miss Effie in 1965 can be seen here: website

There was a 60-foot cylindrical gibbon tower at the entrance to the Zoo. The baby zoo was located in the lower area of the new Zoo.

Oakland Zoo 1963

“The Zoo, when completed, will be the most modern and beautiful one in the country.”

Oakland Tribune 1960
Oakland Tribune 1964

By 1967 the Zoo had relocated entirely to a canyon rising to a mountain overlooking the entire East Bay Area.

The Skyline Daylight a miniature train complete with a “Vista Dome” coach.

Oakland Zoo Circa 1968

The Baby Zoo was completed in 1965 and totally rebuilt in 2005.

Oakland Tribune 1965

When completed, the Zoo would be 100 acres.

Sidney Snow Dies

SF Examiner August 38, 1959

People Came to See

Zoo Under Fire

In 1983 the Zoo was listed as number six of the “The 10 ‘worst’ zoos.’

The Humane Society of the United States said the conditions at the Zoo were so adverse that the elephants might be better off “serving five to ten years in Leavenworth.”

SF Examiner 1983

The Zoo was “a random collection of animals maintained in amateurish fashion and failed to meet even one criterion of an acceptable zoological garden.

They called the Zoo “concrete oasis.”

SF Examiner 1983

The report noted that there were no signs of cruelty to the animals, and they were generally healthy.

The Zoo’s response was, “it will be a first-class zoo in a few years.”

Since 1988, Oakland Zoo has been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the national organization that sets the highest standards for animal welfare for zoos and aquariums.

New and Improved Zoo

Dr. Joel Parrott – 1983
Oakland Zoo – Youtube Page

In his tenure, Dr. Parrott has turned the Zoo entirely around, making it one of the best in the country.

African Savanna

Many new exhibits have been created, including those for the hamadryas baboons and the chimpanzees. A new, spacious elephant exhibit was built in 1987.

The current sun bear exhibit was finished in 1995 and was featured on Animal Planet “Ultimate Zoos.” The white-handed gibbons now live on a lush island in the heart of the Rainforest. The African Savannah, with camels, lions, elephants, meerkats, hyenas and more, was completed in 1998.

The Zoo Today

In the summer of 2005 the 3-acre Valley Children’s Zoo opened with spacious new animal exhibits along with plenty of interactive play-structures for children. The ring-tailed lemurs, century old Aldabra tortoises, the interactive Goat and Sheep Contact Yard along with the river otters can be found in the Children’s Zoo. The popular American alligators, the bats, the pot-bellied pigs, the Old-World rabbits along with the Bug Room, and the Reptile and Amphibian Discovery Room are also in the Children’s Zoo. 

June 20, 2018 – Almost three years since breaking ground and more than two decades in the making, Oakland Zoo’s highly anticipated California Trail opens. The expansion more than doubles the Zoo’s current size from 45 acres to 100 acres.

Zoo Map – Website
The Zoo is home to two sets of brother grizzly bears, also known as brown bears. At Oakland Zoo the bears are given a wide variety of enrichment, as well as choice. Grizzly Bear Cams

The California Trail also includes the interactive California Conservation Habitarium, Conservation Action Tent, California Wilds! Playground based on California’s diverse eco-zones, and Clorox Overnight Experience ‘safari-style’ campground.

5 Fascinating Facts about the Oakland Zoo Gondola
Oakland Zoo
October 18, 2018
3-story Kaiser Permanente Visitor Center, which houses The Landing Café.
Ring-Tailed Lemur
Children’s Zoo
Our Bats Are Hungry For a Bite…of FRUIT!
Oakland Zoo

November 1, 2019
Enjoy the Sun Bears at Oakland Zoo

Timeline of the Zoo

  •  1936– Snow established the nonprofit organization East Bay Zoological Society, which was incorporated as the  Alameda County Botanical and Zoological Society. 
  • 1939-moved from Joaquin Miller Park to Durant Park.
  • 1948 – Became a State Park
  • 1949: State Park property is leased to the City of Oakland for 50 years, and the City of Oakland subleased the zoo property to the East Bay Zoological Society.
  • 1950: -The zoo property changed its name Joseph Knowland State Arboretum and Park.
  • 1964 –City Parks Dept and Society run zoo
  • 1965 – The baby Zoo opened
  • 1975 Knowland State Park was conveyed to the City of Oakland
  • 1982 –East Bay Zoological Society took over the maintenance, operation, and development of the city-run Zoo. The 10-year lease agreement saved the city almost $315,880 a year. The Society signed a ten-year contract.
  • 1985 – Joel Parrott was appointed the Executive Director. A 20-year renovation plan was put in place,
  • 1994- Renews 10-year lease.

Timeline of Major Developments

  • Hamadryas Baboon Exhibit 1982
  • Chimpanzee Exhibit – 1988
  • African Elephant Exhibit – 1989
  • African Lion Exhibit – 1992
  • Siamang Island Exhibit – 1993
  • Malayan Sun Bear Exhibit – 1996
  • African Savanna – 1998
  • Maddie’s Center – 1999
  • Warthog Exhibit -2000
  • Mahali Pa Tembo – Elephant Exhibit 2004
  • Wayne & Gladys Valley Children Zoo Opened 2005
  • Baboon Cliffs – 2009
  • Wild Australia – 20110
  • Veterinary Hospital – 2012

More Info:

The East Bay Zoological Society has operated and managed the Zoo for the City of Oakland from 1982 until August 2017, when it was renamed the Conservation Society of California to reflect better Zoo’s evolving purpose mission in its commitment to conservation.

  • Open Daily: Monday – Friday: 10:00am – 4:00pm, Saturday, Sunday, Select Holidays: 10:00am – 4:00pmMore 
  • Address: 9777 Golf Links Road, Oakland, CA 94605

Please note this not a complete history of the Oakland Zoo. Please let me know about any errors or additions. Thanks

The End

Posted in Districts/Neighborhoods, Elmhurst, Homes

Sweat-Equity Down Payment

Owner-Built Housing 

SF Examiner April 1980

In 1980 the Mckinley family of Oakland was one of seven Oakland families that were approved for a construction loan of $45,000 to participate in the Owner-Built Housing Program of Oakland Neighborhood Housing Services (ONHS).

The homes are located on 73rd Avenue between International Blvd and Holly Street.

Building Training

SF Examiner

The families were trained in construction techniques and were supervised by professional construction personnel. They took classes at the Owner Builder Center in Berkeley. The highly technical and most finish work was subcontracted out.

SF Examiner

Each family was obligated to provide 40 hours of labor week on the construction of their home.  

SF Examiner

 The couples had to have incomes of between $21,000 and $31,000. They had to be Oakland residents for a year and be first-time homeowners.

Sf Examiner

Project Design

Architects at the University of California, Berkeley, contributed to the beginning design stages of the project and made the model used in the presentation to the City of Oakland.

“Elmhurst Community Design Center,” Environmental Design Archives Exhibitions, accessed June 19, 2020, http://exhibits.ced.berkeley.edu/items/show/3213.

The three-bedroom, two-bath homes were designed by Architect Richard McCarty of Morro Bay.

The project took about a year to develop, arrange for the money, and purchase the lots. 

The City of Oakland purchased the lots for $3000 each.

The first seven homes took about ten months to build. In all I believe there were 14 homes built.

The Families:

  • Charles and Yolanda Bird – 1808 73rd Ave
  • James Davis
  • Jake and Pauline Evans
  • Bariwynn and Mary Jane Howard – 1616 73rd Ave
  • Stanley and Mary Mckinley – 1468 73rd Ave
  • Tony Stevens
  • Willie and Denise Sumtter
Yolanda Bird
1808 73rd Avenue
1606 73rd Avenue

More Info:

Building a Dream – PBS 

Posted in Buildings, East Oakland, Elmhurst

Lockwood Gardens

The name Lockwood has been a part Oakland for a long time. I am still looking into where the name came from. In 1875 the Lockwood School District reported the following. Lockwood was (is) considered a part of the Elmhurst District.

Oakland Tribune June 28, 1875

The site of Lockwood Gardens was once the extensive estate of William Cluff Jr. a wholesale grocer of some prominence in the early days.

The Site

Lockwood Gardens is located between 64th and 66th Avenues on the southside of East 14th Street on 2 1/2 acres of land that was occupied by a golf practice range and one house.

project plans by Carl Warnecke, OHR 

Planning Stages

The proposed housing development that would become Lockwood Gardens was met with protest. The major complaints were as follows.

Oakland Tribune April 10, 1941

One the provisions in the funding of government housing the city was to carry out “equilievant demolition” program. Under the provision for every new housing unit built a substandard dwelling not with in the project area must be demolished. The city had not met the requirements the projects that were built in West Oakland. Lockwood was 372 housing units. Over 500 hundred homes would have to be demolished.

Oakland Tribune Mar 06, 1941
Newly constructed Lockwood Gardens public housing development in the Havenscourt district of Oakland,

The cost of building the projects was about $1,175,525. Lockwood was ready for occupancy in 1942.

The Early Years

Lockwood opened in August of 1942. Originally designed for low-income families regardless of employment, they were converted for the use of families the defense industry only.

this metropolitan area’s answer to Govenment housing officials prayers”

Oakland Tribune 1944

In the 1944 the Lockwood had a population of 1600, which included 372 family units and a total of 800 children. An all volunteer Community Council. A very active Improvement Club, with the purpose to promote unity among the residents and to expand social and sports programs for adults and children.

Oakland Tribune Feb 03, 1944

There were two newspapers, two orchestras which provided music for the semi-monthly adult dances and the weekly teen dances. There was a community victory garden.

Oakland Tribune Feb 03, 1944

Organized girls’ and boys’ clubs carried out a full program of social and sports activities under the direction of volunteers.

There was an auxiliary police force of 40 members who provided their own uniforms served under Chief of Police James Rouse.

Oakland Tribune Feb 03, 1944

Race and Housing

In a letter to the editor of the Oakland Tribune Mrs. Mollie Thorner wrote the following:

Editor: Only recently has our whole neighborhood become fully aware of the shocking policies at Lockwood Gardens Federal Housing Projects. (65th Avenue). The neighborhood surrounding Lockwood Gardens is a fine democratic community where all peoples, regardless of race, creed, or color, live side by side and to the enrichment of all. The policy of Lockwood Gardens, however, is: No admittance to any minority groups. Please note that this is a Federal Housing Project for GI families of low income. All Americans are asked to fight on the battlefield, regardless of race, creed, or color. What do the good people of Oakland think of a policy where, if the GI lives to come home, he finds a Federal Project closed to him because of the color of his skin? These projects are partly paid for by the Federal. Government, but the policy is left in the hands of each city. And since one poison always breeds another, it has now been learned that hundreds of families live in Lockwood Gardens whose income is was above the maximum ser for Federal Housing tenents. We believe that the housing authorities shut their eyes to this to keep up the discrimination policy.
We say with great pride, now that our community did at last find all these things out, it will leave no stone unturned to have these policies changed. The citizens of all Oakland have a duty in this.

Neighborhood Tenants Committees
Mrs. Mollie Thorner, Secretary

The Later Years

Oakland Tribune Jul 16, 1968
Oakland Tribune Jul 16, 1968
Oakland Tribune Dec 25, 1970

Even Later

Lockwood is also known as the “6-5 Vill” (Village), and is one half of the “Vill.” The other half of the “Vill” is the recently torn down 69th San Antonio Villas housing project, where infamous drug kingpin Felix Mitchell is from. The 69th San Antonio Villas has since been remodeled into condominiums. Once an extremely unattractive housing project, the Oakland housing authority also remodeled Lockwood Gardens. However, unlike the 69th Vill, whose crime rate dropped after remodeling, these efforts have done little to thwart the crime that still plagues the 65th Vill.

Rappers such as G-Stack, Tuffy, Yukmouth and the late Rap-A-Lot Records artist Seagram Miller all claim The Vill home. World Heritage Encyclopedia

Demolish or Rehabilitation

The Oakland Housing Authority received five federal HOPE VI grants totaling $83 million, enabling it to revitalize four large public housing sites and four small scattered sites. OHA’s first HOPE grant was used to renovate one of OHA’s original “war housing” developments, the 372-unit Lockwood Gardens, constructed in 1943. This was in 1994, 1998, 1999 and 2000

Lockwood Gardens was rehabilitated in the early 2000s.

Lockwood Gardens Today
Lockwood Gardens – Google Maps

More Info:


The End

Posted in Business, Elmhurst, Fruitvale, Uncategorized

Ostrich Farm in Oakland

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.

Bentley Ostrich Farm East 14th (now International Blvd) and High Streets Oakland, California
Photographer: Cheney Photo Advertising Company c 1913

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.

Could this be George or Bob?

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.

Bentley Ostrich Farm East 14th (now International Blvd) and High Streets Oakland, California
Photographer: Cheney Photo Advertising Company c 1911

New Name

In January of 1912, the owner of the Bently Ostrich Farm, was killed in an auto accident near the San Diego farm.

Oakland Tribune Sep 21, 1913

His son sold the farm to a group of Oakland investors.

View of main entrance to the Golden State Ostrich Farm;
Souvenir Publishing Co 1915

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.

Title: Salesroom and office [picture] : Golden State Ostrich Farm, East 14th and High streets 1910
Collection: Selections from the Collections of the Oakland History Room and the Maps Division of the Oakland Public Library
Date of access: May 31 2020 10:32
Permalink: https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030/kt0p3022h1/

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.

Oakland Tribune 1909

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.

Bankruptcy

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 End

Posted in Buildings, Fruitvale, Schools, Uncategorized

Fruitvale Open-Air School

About Open-Air Schools

The schools were a single-story building with integrated gardens, and pavilion-like classrooms increased children’s access to the outdoors, fresh air, and sunlight. They were mostly built in areas away from city centers, sometimes in rural locations, to provide a space free from pollution and overcrowding. 

New School House

School Children Enjoy the Open Air – SF Chronicle July 15, 1910

Free education and fresh air has interested educators from as far away as Paris, France

Oakland Tribune – May 13, 1913

The first open-air school in Oakland was established at the Fruitvale School No. 2 (now Hawthorne School) on Tallent Street (now East 17th). When it opened, there were forty students enrolled, from grades third through seventh. Miss Lulu Beeler was selected as the teacher because she had prior experience working in an open-air school in the East.

 The school designed to help cure ill and tubercular children. The focus was on improving physical health through the infusion of fresh air in the classrooms and into the children’s lungs. The school was established as a medical experiment. The school reserved for children judged to be of “weak” disposition.

The Fruitvale school is decidedly a health school”

Oakland Tribune May 13, 1913

It was constructed at the rear of the playground, one hundred feet from the existing main building.

“Fruitvale School. The fresh air school, 5-18-13.” Negative shows a group of children, boys and girls, posing in front of what looks like an enclosed porch on the back of the building. Two adult women and a man are standing with the children on a set of stairs leading up to this room.
OMCA

The square, the wood-framed building was raised to prevent underfloor dampness.

Fruitvale School. Saluting the flag, 5-18-13.” Negative shows a group of children with their right hands to their foreheads. One girl is standing in front of them holding an American flag on a pole.
OMCA

Each of the sides had a different treatment to reflect the sun. The southern side had tall windows that, when open, didn’t seem to be enclosed. The east side was opened to the elements with only half of a wall. A screen protected them from insects.  In case of storms awnings can be pulled down to protect the students.

Fruitvale School.” Negative shows school children hanging out the windows of the school, posing for the photo. A male teacher is standing on the ground outside the windows looking up at the first floor windows filled with the students.
OMCA

The school was to be the first in a series of open-air schools installed on the grounds of Oakland’s existing city schools.

Objections

Fruitvale School. The outdoors brought indoors 5-18-13.” 
OMCA

There was some objection in opening the school, from the parents of the selected children and the children themselves. The parents did not want their children singled out; the children worried they would be teased as being “sick.” These fears were realized, and the teachers struggled with how to deal with the repeated taunts

Oakland Tribune May 13, 1913

The idea of the open-air classroom was incorporated in many of the new schools built in the 1920s. I don’t know how long the Fruitvale Open Air school was open. I will update if I find more information.

More Info:

Growing Children Out of Doors: California’s Open-Air Schools and Children’s Health, 1907-1917 – Camille Shamble Los Gatos, California – May 2017

Open air school – Wikipedia

Collection of Photos – OMCA 

The End