Posted in Buildings, Rockridge, Schools, Then and Now, West Oakland

Then & Now – Oakland School Part 11

  In this series of posts, I hope to show Then and Now images Oakland Schools.  Along with a bit of history of each school, I highlight. Some of the photos are in the form of drawings or postcards, or from the pages of history books. 

Not all schools will be included in this series, and sometimes I might post a picture of the school.’

Note: Piecing together the history of some of the older schools is sometimes tricky. I do this all at home and online — a work in progress for some. I have been updating my posts when I find something new. Let me know of any mistakes or additions.

Chabot Elementary School

Bungalow Annex

The Board of Education in May of 1926 approved the plans for a new school to relieve the overcrowding at  Claremont School.  

The new school was on Chabot Road at Patton Street. The was to have seven rooms and coat $50,000 and was called The Annex. 

The “Claremont” Annex was dedicated was on April 21, 1927. The school cost approx. $89,000.  

The article below is about the dedication of The Annex or Chabot School .

New Addition

In 1937 an addition was added funded by the Living New Deal.

Chabot School – New Living Deal

Chabot Today

Chabot is located at 6686 Chabot Road

Google Maps
Google Maps
Google Maps

More Info:

School Dedicated – Oakland Tribune April 21, 1927

Storied school marks its 80th anniversary; Oakland Tribune, The (CA); October 21, 2007

Claremont Middle School

The new school at the corner of College Avenue and Birch Street was to be named Claremont School, and it opened in August of 1913 as an elementary school. The school was designed by John J. Donovan and Walter D Reed.

By 1916 the school was so crowded that they were using the teacher’s lunchroom and the auditorium as classrooms. Portables were added.

List of Graduates 1921

Oakland Tribune 1921
Oakland Tribune Dec 08 1922

In 1925 7th and 8th grades were added. The elementary grades were transferred to The Annex (Chabot School) when it opened in 1927. Claremont soon after 1927 became Claremont Junior High.

Oakland Tribune August 18, 1933

In the 1950s 28 classrooms were added to the Claremont campus, plus a cafeteria and gymnasium.

SF Examiner May 13, 1951

50th Anniversary

Oakland Tribune 1963

Claremont Today

The Photo By Dorothy Londagin

The historic gates are all that remain of the original school building that was demolished in 1976. The gates were moved to the corner of Birch and College Avenue.

OUSD Photo
5750 College Avenue 
5750 College Avenue 
Google Maps

More Info:

Members of the Vernon-Rockridge Improvement Club had hoped that the school would be named Vernon-Rockridge.

Centennial Celebration 2013

Letters to the Editor

  1. Claremont Middle the need historical accuracy – Apr 04, 2013
  2. Claremont Middle Centennial will be Accurate- Apr 112013  

Crocker Highlands School

In 1922 the board of education authorized the purchase of land for a new school named Crocker Highlands School.

Oakland Tribune 1925

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held in April 1925.

The six-room structure costing $40,000 was built as part of the 1924 bond issue.  The school was designed by Wythe,Blaine & Olson.

Oakland Tribune 1925

The school was dedicated in September of 1925.

Miss Bernice Baxter was the first principal of the school. There were 61 students enrolled that first year and by 1929 there were 485 students enrolled.

In 1929 plans were approved a new $95,000 addition of 11 classrooms and an auditorium. Blaine & Olson were the architects.

Oakland Tribune 1929

In 1937 another addition was added.

In 1971 the original building from 1924 was declared unsafe in an earthquake and was to be replaced.

Oakland Tribune Apr 22, 1971

In 1976 when the school was upgraded for earthquake safety. They added a two-story with a basement, 10 classrooms, 2 special education rooms, a multipurpose room, a library/resource center, music room, teachers’ lounge, computer lab, kitchen, storage, and custodial rooms. 

Crocker Highlands Today

Crocker Highlands Today
Crocker Highlands Today

More Info:

Grass Valley School

Oakland Tribune Nov 04, 1953

In 1953 Oakland’s newest school was officially known as Grass Valley School. The name was chosen by parents of the children attending the school after it temporarily known as the Toler Heights Annex. Meadow View and Rancho Benito came in 2nd and 3rd.

On December 11, 1952 the school was dedicated. For the first 3 or 4 years the school consisted of three portables and 100 students.

New School Building

Oakland Tribune Oct 1957

In October of 1957 plans were submitted to build a new school with eight classrooms. a kindergarten, a special education room, a library, multipurpose room and admin. offices. The new school was to house 362 students, cost about $350,000 and was expected to be completed by August of 1958.

First Day of School 1958

Oakland Tribune Sept 08 1958
Oakland Tribune Sept 08 1958

Grass Valley Today

The is located at 4720 Dunkirk Avenue

Google Maps
Google Maps

More Info:

Grass Valley Website – OUSD

Hillcrest School

Note: I wasn’t able to find any earlier photos of the school. Will update if I do.

Construction on the new Rockridge Highlands school began in 1950.

Oakland Tribune Jan 12 1950

The new school housed 210 children in six classrooms, a kindergarten and a library.

It was designed by Anderson and Simonds and cost $218,697.

The school was dedicated on January 19, 1951, and was the 27th school building to be built as the result of the $15 million bond issue voted in 1945.

Oakland Jan 19, 1951

Name Changed to Hillcrest

In May of 1951 Rockridge Highlands School name was changed to Hillcrest School.

Oakland Tribune May 31, 1951

1991 Fire

Hillcrest was spared during the 1991 Oakland Hills fire.

SF Examiner Oct 26, 1991

Forty-six Hillcrest families , including 59 of the school’s 236 students, lost their homes in the fire.

The playground in 1993
SF Examiner
SF Examiner Nov 1991

Hillcrest Today

The school is located at 30 Marguerite Drive

Hillcrest Today – Google Maps

More Info:

Rockridge School

Note: I could not locate any pictures of the first school. I will update if I find some.

Oakland Tribune Dec 08, 1922

The school opened in February 1922. It cost $75,000.

They built a Spanish colonial renaissance style two-story structure with cement stucco and a tile roof. The exterior was painted coral with windows green-blue and tiles bright red.

They built it on a triangle piece of property on Broadway Terrace adjoining the Claremont Country club facing Broadway. The school was strictly elementary, teaching only the first six grades.

Triangle piece of land – Apple maps

Large Play Space

“The kindergarten is one of the best in the west.”  

Oakland Tribune

The kindergarten contained ample play space, a fireplace and various nooks with a glass porch.

The rooms of all the grades opened upon a terrace which sloped down to a garden.
Ventilation in the new building was by windows and not by a fan, and there was a warm bench for drying wet shoes.

New addition planned in 1927.

Plans were approved for a new addition consisting of an assembly hall and 3 classrooms .

Oakland Tribune March 1927

From Aunt Elsie’s Column in 1938

Condemned Building 1953 and 1971

In 1953 the auditorium was condemned and closed. Preliminary plans for a new one were drawn up in 1957.

Oakland Tribune 1953
Oakland Tribune Apr 29, 1959
Oakland Tribune Apr 29, 1959

The old building from 1922 was deemed unsafe in an earthquake in 1971.

Oakland Tribune April 15, 1971

In 1978-1979, the school building was torn down and portable classrooms were placed on the grounds.

SF Examiner 1978

 The school closed after the 1988-89 school year, and later became Far West High School, which closed in 2011. 

Rockridge Today

Apple Maps

The school is located at 5263 Broadway Terrace.

More Info:

The End

Posted in Claremont, Estates, People, Rockridge, Tract or Subdivisions

The Pines

The Pines” was the beautiful home and the surrounding gardens of Mr. & Mrs. Philip E. Bowles. The house was built in 1910, and it stood at what is now No. 2 Bowling Drive.  

Oakland Tribune Apr 04, 1910

Mr. and Mrs. P.E. Bowles on a garden path at The Pines


Views of “The Pines “Estate by Gabriel Moulin, ca. 1927


Location of The Pines

Land Purchased

In 1909, Philip E. Bowles purchased 51 (58 acres in some publications) acres of land in “Claremont Hills,” adjoining the Horatio P Livermore Homestead. Bowles was the president of the First National Bank of Oakland and a Regent of the University of California from 1911-22.

The house and grounds had an entrancing view of the bay and all of the surrounding country.

The view from “The Pines.”


The Golden Gate in The Distance c 1927
Photo By Cheney Photo Advertising


Where the Setting Sun Meets the Golden Gate c 1927
Photo By Cheney Photo Advertising

The Bowles Home

 He signed a contract for the erection of a residence to cost  $31,000.  The Architect was L.B. Dutton. He engaged an expert landscaper. Who designed the grounds of the estate by following Bowles’s own plans.


Oakland Tribune March 1909


Photo c 1928 Cheney Photo Advertising


Photo By Cheney Photo Advertising

The home was built in the Italian Villa style with twenty-two rooms and a full basement.  It had six master bedrooms, dressing rooms, five bathrooms, three sleeping porches, a library, a drawing-room, and a conservatory.

Inside the home


Views of “The Pines “Estate by Gabriel Moulin, ca. 1927

A Bedroom


Views of “The Pines “Estate by Gabriel Moulin, ca. 1927


The home was surrounded by a veritable forest filed with quail and dotted with miniature lakes stocked with large rainbow trout and a well-stocked bass pond. There was a Japanese Tea garden with pools containing rare goldfish, golden carp, and unusual aquatic plants. There was also a tennis court, a swimming pool, a large garage, and a horse stable with a trotting park.

AMANDA McNEAR BOWLES – ‘THE PINES’ Cheney Photo Advertising

Mr. Bowles purchased from all of the worlds, he bought the best. The Rhododendrons were especially lovely.


SF Chronicle Jul 28, 1913


Views of “The Pines “Estate by Gabriel Moulin, ca. 1927

The swimming pool and bathhouse.


Views of “The Pines “Estate by Gabriel Moulin, ca. 1927

A garden path


Photo By Cheney Photo Advertising


Claremont Pines was housing development built around 1927
Photo By Cheney Photo Advertising

Architecture & Engineer

In 1911 the home was featured in January issue of Architecture & Engineer of California Magazine.  It states the architect was L.B. Dutton.  Architecture & Engineer of California Jan 1911, pg. 204


Jan 1911 – Architecture & Engineer

High Society at The Pines

Many dances and social events were held at The Pines.


Oakland Tribune Jun 17, 1910

In 1912 the Bowles daughter Amy married Hiram Johnson Jr., the son of Governor Hiram W. Johnson. The wedding was held at The Pines.

The extension grounds surrounding the Bowles mansion were transformed into a fairyland

Oakland Tribune May 30, 1912


Oakland Tribune May 30, 1912


Oakland Tribune Sept 20, 1923

Death of P.E. Bowles

On January 20,1926, Philip Bowles died at the age of 67.


Oakland Tribune Jan 21, 1926

Possible Park

The city of Oakland Park board was urged by Mayor Davie to purchase land and home for $700,000for a public playground or park.  That fell through.


Oakland Tribune Oct 15, 1926

Claremont Pines

In  May of 1927, a year after Philip Bowles died,  Mrs. Bowles sold the entire estate to a group of men from southern California, and they hired the York Company, Inc. of Oakland to handle to development and the sales.

The York company subdivided the land and called it Claremont Pines.  The name Claremont Pines came from the nearby district called Claremont and the name of the Bowles Estate.

Claremont Pines Placed on the Market

New Owner

In about 1927 or 1928, Andrew Williams of the Andrew Williams Store, a local grocery chain, purchase the home, which was located at No. 2 Bowling Drive.


Oakland Tribune Feb 26, 1928

After spending two years remodeling and adding new furniture including expensive Persian rugs, Williams put the home up for sale in 1932


Ad for No. 2 Bowling Drive 1931


Oakland Tribune Sept 05, 1932

Bowles Hall – UC Berkeley

In 1928 in memory of her husband, Mrs. Bowles donated $250,000 to the University of California to be used to build a dormitory for men, wholly and appropriately furnished, on or near the University campus, in Berkeley. It is known as Bowles Hall.

  • Announcement of Mary Bowles’ Gift: Mar 19, 1927

The Wrecking Ball

In 1938 the main house was destroyed by the wrecking and sold off piece by piece. A sad ending to a home that was just 28 years old.


Oakland Tribune Feb 1938

Caretaker House

The was a caretaker house located at the front gates of the estate. It stood at the portal through the high metal-spiked fence around the estate. The five-room bungalow, which formally served as the guardian of the estate, was used as the tract office from 1928- 1948.

It was at this little cottage where the streetcar once stopped.

In 1948 the cottage was sold to Charles Ray Jr. of 1028 85th Avenue, and he will be placing it on the lot next to his.

More on The Pines:


The End