1857 – 1888: Ellis A Haines purchased the property from the Peralta’s
In 1888, Frederick C. Talbot of the San Francisco lumber firm of Pope & Talbot purchased 133- acres from Ellis A. Haines in Elmhurst near San Leandro and adjacent to the Souhter Farm ( now the Dunsmuir Home) for $15,000.
Depending on who wrote it or what you read the total acreage seems to change. Above you will see in one clipping has the total acreage as 133- acres and in the other it as 153 -acres. It has been as high as 453 acres. I have always understood it to be the same land that both the Oakland Zoo and Knowland Park, but who really knows?
Nestled in the hills surrounded by the choicest fruits and flowers, “Edenvale” as the name suggests is a veritable paradise.
The estate was 140-acres (different acreage) of rich land used for farming and orchards. 60 acres were planted with almonds, cherries, oranges, walnuts, lemons, prunes, apricots, peaches and olives. 80 acres of choice farming land.
The garden was laid out with rare trees and a variety of plants and lighted pathways. There was a large pond with a bridge the crossed it. The pond was large enough for a small rowboat.
The main house was a modern elegant colonial structure of 12 rooms, with 4 baths running water and gas throughout. It Burned down in 1921.
There was a large modern stable, a greenhouse, servants quarters. There was a home for the caretaker which is still standing today. A brooder for chickens and pen for pigs. Oakland Tribune Mar 22, 1902
Barn Burns –
Talbot Farm for Sale
R.C. “Cliff” Durant Purchases Estate
Durant purchases the Talbot estate “Edenvale” . The estate comprises of 470-acres (different acreage) and sold for $200,000.
The above says 478-acres and below says 200-acres. They are dated a year apart.
A Map showing the location of R.C Durants/F.C. Talbots Mansion
The Estate Becomes A Park
In 1929 the city of Oakland council voted to purchase the the former country estate of the late F.C. Talbot from the Park Commission. The 350-acres ( different acreage) would cost the city approximately $662,000. That deal fell through. The whole story is confusing . Durant Park opens to the public in 1932.
In 1935 Sidney Snow took possession of the 475-acre (different acreage) Durant Park and started building the zoo. He ran it with a some help from the city of Oakland. – From A History as Told by the Founder’s Daughter”
In 1937 Durant Park is now called the Zoological Gardens and Arboretumof Metropolitan Oakland. I bet they still call it Durant Park.
In 1950 Durant park is dedicated as the “East Bay State Park” under the California park system. In a dedication speech it was noted the there were many trees and plants from F.C Talbot estate and they were included in the Historical Arboretum which is separate park from the Oakland Zoo.
A row of mature Canary Island Date Palms mark the part entry. Stately Mexican Fan Palms, Chilean Palms and exotic Bunya Bunya frees from Australia dot the formal meadows of the existing picnic grounds. These Arboretum’s specimens were planted at the turn of last century (I bet before that) as part of the Talbot Estate grounds. There is also collection of 8 species of palms, native and exotic oaks, redwoods and many other specimens from North Africa, the Himalayas, Chile and the Canary Islands. – From the Zoo Master Plan 1996
In 1962 a fire destroyed building that had been home to Effie the elephant until 1959. The building had been marked unsafe. The building was built in 1890, was part of the Talbot Estate.
The Estate Today
On the below map the large red square shows where most of the estate was . The smaller green box shows the location of caretaker home that was apart of the Talbot Estate. When Sidney Snow ran the zoo he and his family lived there. Now is it used by zoo employees . The meadow by the main gate still has some of trees planted by Talbot over 100 years ago. They are part of theKnowland State Arboretum and Park. I need to check this out.
I am working on getting copies of the real photos as opposed to copies of copies. I am also checking on the what’s up with the Knowland State Arboretum and Park. Does it still exist. I know on real crowded days they allow parking on the meadow, where some of the historic trees are.
Again while researching something else I came across this and I had to share it. I was looking into the Haines Ranch and found this article about Mountain George.
Old Mountain George Died Where He wanted to Die
On the 15th day of July 1887 Jonathan Murphy was riding over the ridge close to (or on) the Haines Ranch (now the Oakland Zoo) or Mills Seminary (now Mills College) when he decided to to check on ‘Old George” at his cabin. He found George dead in his bed. His old gun and hound dog lay by his side. There was a letter addressed to his sister along with other papers scattered on a table in the middle of the room.
Everybody in East Oakland knew the tall, gaunt man with long grey bread as “Mountain George”. But few knew him as George Clinton Tisdale, a former resident of New York. He was about 63 years old and had lived in the hills for years, killing whatever game he could find.
He used to occupy a cabin on the E.A. Haines ranch, but recently had lived in a hut on Colonel Simpson’s ranch, about four miles back of Mills Seminary on the old Redwood Road.
It is located where Foothill Blvd meets Trask Street and 55th Avenue. 55th Avenue was formally called Central Avenue and Foothill Blvd was often referred to the Scenic Boulevard. Central Terrace also includes Ruth Avenue, Laverne Avenue, El Camille Avenue and Kingsland Avenue. The area now is considered to be an extension of Maxwell Park or the Fairfax District, depending on who you talk to.
Brochure for Central Terrace
The Mutual Realty Company put the Central Terrace Subdivision on sale in April of 1912. The agent was Fred T. Wood, who later took over the project. Later they added the Central Terrace Extension and Scenic Park Knoll
“Central Terrace is surrounded by modern schools and educational institutions of the very highest standard, the John C. Fremont high erected at the cost of $140,000, the Melrose School, the W.P. Frick School and the Lockwood Grammar School and the famous Mills Seminary for young ladies, all are within short walking distance from any part of Central Terrace”
Growing up in Montclair (for me) Thornhill Drive was always just Thornhill Drive. But come to find out it was once called Thorn Road (sometimes Thorne Road). Thornhill is a nicer sounding name than Thorn. But there is a perfectly good reason as to why it was called Thorn Road.
The name goes back to 1856 when man named Hiram Thorn (Hiram Thorne) built the road at a heavy expense. Thorn’s road brought redwood logs to Oakland out of the vast forest known as the Moraga Redwoods where he ran a lumber mill on Pinehurst Road. Thorn was later given a franchise to run and collect tolls for the road, it was one of 3 toll roads in Oakland. In 1933 Thorn Road officially became Thornhill Drive.
Since I found out about Thornhill Drive I have been very curious about the names of our city streets. If you are interested you can read more at the Oakland Local Wiki page Street Names.
Oakland had lots of streets that seemed to be name for tress. Like Acacia Avenue Beech Street, Birch Street, Holly Street, Linden Street, Locust Street, Palmetto Street, Pine Street, Poplar Street, Plymouth Street, Redwood Road, Sequoyah Road, Spruce Street, Walnut Street and Willow Street. To name a few.
In the Laurel District there are streets named for the states. The streets are Maine, Vermont, Jersey, Montana, Texas, Ohio (now Dakota) Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas. California and Wisconsin Streets. Maine, Vermont and Jersey are no longer due to the construction of the MacArthur Freeway . I happen to live on Georgia Street.
In Sequoyah Hills, which located in the Oakland Hills above 580, off of Keller Avenue, directly below Skyline Blvd. The streets are named Hansom, coach, chariot, phaeton, shay and surrey are varieties of horse-drawn carriages. Better yet, the theme is a pun, considering the wheel-like arrangement of Shay, Phaeton and Coach streets radiating from Hansom.
In Montclair there is group of street possibly named for early explorers. The streets are Balboa Drive, Cabrillo Drive, Cabot Drive, Drake Drive, Gasper Drive, Magellan Drive and Mendoza Drive. Another group of streets seem to be named after WW I Generals. They are Liggett Drive, Pershing Drive, Sims Drive and Wood Drive.
The following is a group of articles by Albert E. Norman from the Oakland Tribune in 1960-1960.
If you have wondered about the name of your street, leave message below and I will check it out.