Posted in East Oakland, History, Oakland, West Oakland

Backyard Fence War

In June of 1965 the Oakland Housing Authority (OHA) began what was called a “Beautification Program”.

Under the housing authority’s plan, fenced in yards were to be removed and replaced with turfed areas in the following projects:

According to the tenants of the Peralta Villa housing projects in West Oakland, they first heard about the program when the a group of boys from the Alameda County Central Labor Council (funded by a grant from the War on Poverty) started demolishing the backyard fences and flower gardens.

The fences were removed, Housing Authority officials say, as the first step in a program of “beautification”

The tenants were really angry because some had paid the OHA for the fences and planted their gardens. No advance notice was given – the workers just started tearing everything up.

They Organize

The War on Poverty ran into a major obstacle this week – the War on Poverty

Oakland Tribune June 30, 1965

As a part of the War on Poverty‘s a work-study program was funded to provide the salaries of University of California students to work with the tenants .

The students worked with the residents of Lockwood Gardens to help them develop a sense of community identity and to learn how to help themselves.

It was these students that encouraged the tenants to form the Lockwood Improvement League .

The program funded by the War on Poverty the same people funding the “Beautification Program” and removing their fences.

The tenants of Peralta Villas met at Cole school and formed the Peralta Improvement League. Thirty tenants volunteered to form their own “human fence” they wrote up a list of demands and began their fight to save their gardens.

  1. Stop tearing down the remaining fences
  2. Rebuild the fences already taken down
  3. Reimburse the tenants whose private property was destroyed
  4. Consult the tenants first before doing any further work
Oakland Tribune July 1965

The labor for the “Beautification Program” was provided by the Alameda County Labor Council through a grant from the War of Poverty.

Lockwood Gardens

The OHA decided to on June 25, 1965 to “beautify” the projects. They started with Lockwood Gardens.

The people of Lockwood Gardens newfound sense of community identity was outraged.

Each of the thirty- plus dwelling units in Lockwood Gardens had its own yard and most had fences. Some had lawns and some had shrubs and flowers.

The enclosed yards gave the tenants a sense of individuality, security, and pride.

All backyard fences would come out, the lawns, shrubs and flowers would be dug out. A common turf area without fences would replace individual yards.

Oakland Tribune June 30, 1965

They had been using my yard as adverstiment for years.

Jim Sorenson 1137 65th Ave – Oakland Tribune
Oakland Tribune June 30, 1965

They were also upset by the lack of advance warning. They got 200 signature in favor of keeping the fences.

The Lockwood Gardens tenants were all for beautification but not at the expense of their backyards. One tenant was upset because he had just rebuilt his fence. Not all the tenants of the tenants took care of yards or kept their fences in repair. But they felt the OHA could work it out with those tenants.

The Protests

The tenants of both Peralta Villa and Lockwood Gardens protested and managed to halt or limited the amount of work that could be done at either of the projects.

Oakland Tribune July 13, 1965

The OHA laid out a new backyard fence policy Residents must keep their backyards neat and in repair; no new fences could be installed; no satisfactory fence will be torn down now, but eventual elimination of all fenced areas can be expected”

In August of 1965 the OHA board voted to poll each family of Campbell Village, Lockwood Gardens and Peralta Villa if they want a fence. Everyone was to be asked even the people who lived in the 2nd floor. There was a total of 916 total units in the three projects.

The tenants were given 2 choices in the questions asked :

Oakland Tribune Sep 01, 1965

It appears to be a lower-the-cost- maintenance program

The Pro-Fence group leader

In July 1966 all the fences had been removed and the place looked like a dump reported one tenant. The lawn was dead in most places as it wasn’t being watered.

More on the Beautification Program

The End

Posted in East Oakland, Fruitvale, Montclair

1933 – Oakland Hills Fire

The fire started in the Redwood Road area and raced through to Sequoia Park (Joaquin Miller Park) and down Dimond Canyon and also spread some into Shepard Canyon. 

Oakland Tribune Nov 13, 1933

The fire which began around 7 am on November 13, 1933, swept through the East Oakland Hills, burning a man to death, injuring two others and destroying at least a dozen homes.  It was under control by 2 pm.

The municipal zoo in Sequoia Park (now Joaquin Miller Park) was surrounded by a ring of flames as the fire approached the animal cages. The zookeeper’s we preparing to shoot the animals, the fire stopped just 100 yards from the cages.

‘The Abbey’ is Spared

The flames spread through the homestead of the late Joaquin Miller and destroyed the home of Miller’s late mother, which was occupied his widow who was 83.  Many of her treasures were lost, but she escaped. The historic Abbey was saved!

Oakland Tribune Nov 13, 1933

Shift in Wind

AT 9:20 am the fire was fast approaching the Sequoia Riding Club at 2923 Mountain Blvd. The stable grooms led the frightened horses through the smoke to safely. A shift in wind saves the stables.

Oakland Tribune Nov 13, 1933

Oakland Tribune Nov 13, 1933
  • Mrs. Abbie L. Miller widow of Joaquin Miller with her niece
  • Carmela Ward and a couple of the 60 horses she rescued.
  • Juanita Miller helping fight the fire
Oakland Tribune Nov 13, 1933
  • Removing the body of Wm J. La Marr who burned to death
  • All the was left of one hillside home
  • School boys who left class to fight the flames along Mountain Blvd

List of Homes

Oakland Tribune Nov 13, 1933

More on the Fire

The End

Posted in East Oakland, Home Building, Model/Display Homes

Melrose Highlands- Part 2

Oakland Tribune

In 1935 Phil Heraty a local real estate agent and developer took over the sales of Melrose Highlands.

Colonial Village – 1935

A type of English brick was used on the exterior of a few houses built in 1935.

Oakland Tribune June 19357773 Greenly Drive
Oakland Tribune July 1935
Oakland Tribune July 19357765 Greenly Drive
Oakland Tribune July 7, 1935

Both the houses are on Greenly Drive, they are side by side at 7765 and 7775.

Google Maps – 7775 Greenly Drive

Heraty to Build 100 Homes – Jan 1940

Oakland Tribune Jan 14, 1940
Oakland Tribune 1940

Cape Cod Colonial – 7776 Sterling Drive

Six generous size rooms with light filled upstairs bedrooms. Downstairs has the living room, dinette and kitchen. Detached Garage. Price $4150.00.

Oakland Tribune 1940

Present day photo below. I see they made a room out of the garage.

7776 Sterling Drive – Google Maps
Oakland Tribune 1940

7225 Sterling Drive – 1940

Oakland Tribune Mar 1940
Oakland Tribune Mar 1940
7725 Sterling – Google MAPS

Heraty Homes – Greenly Drive

Forty new -home owners have moved into Melrose Highlands since his organization became the selling agents

said Heraty – Oakland Tribune Sept 08, 1940
Oakland Tribune Sept 08, 1940

New Economy Home at 8108 Greenly Drive – 1940

Oakland Tribune Aug 18, 1940
8108 Greenly Drive – REDFIN.Com

Building Progress in Melrose Highlands

Below is about 8032 Fontaine Street which was lost due to the construction of the freeway.

Oakland Tribune Aug 1940
Oakland Tribune May 11, 1941

Beautiful Melrose Highlands – 1941

In May of 1941 a furnished “Model Home’ opened in Melrose Highlands at 8033 Fontaine Street.

8033 Fontaine Street – Google Maps
Oakland Tribune May 11, 1941

Built to Order in Melrose Highlands – 1941

A Garden Showplace on Greenly Drive

The home of R.E. Derby on 7757 Greenly Drive was featured in the garden section on the Oakland Tribune in July of 1939.

their principal concern was, what to do with the “mud hole” in the backyard.

R.E Derby – July 16, 1939
Oakland Tribune July 16, 1939
Oakland Tribune July 16, 1939
Oakland Tribune July 16, 1939

The End

Posted in East Oakland, Elmhurst, Oakland Tracts, Tract or Subdivisions

Toler Heights

Toler Ranch

William Pinkney Toler (1829-1899) and his wife Maria Antonia (1836-1926) owned 330 (349) acres of land in the foothills of Elmhurst. Maria was the daughter of  Hermenegildo “Ignacio” Peralta. William and Maria were married in 1853.

The Ranch was on the foothills road between Elmhurst and San Leandro , later known as Foothill Blvd and is now MacArthur Blvd. The ranch was close to both the Talbot Farm and the Dunsmuir Home.

Oakland Tribune Oct 08, 1888

Toler Ranch Sold

After her husband’s death Mrs. Toler sold the ranch to the Realty Syndicate for $110,000-$120,000. The land was then subdivided and placed on the market.

Oakland Tribune Mar 26, 1906
SF Call July 30, 1906
Oakland Tribune Jan 1906

Map of Toler Heights – 1907

Shows block and lot numbers, measurements, land ownership, etc. Covers area bounded generally by Stanley Rd. [i.e. Ave.], Wise [i.e. 99th] Ave., Foothill [i.e. MacArthur] Blvd., and Hillcrest Ave. [i.e. Seneca St.]. Panel title: Map of Toler Heights, Elmhurst, Oakland. Oriented with north toward left. Cadastral map. http://oskicat.berkeley.edu/record=b11188562~S1 c1907

Opening Day 1907

Toler Heights went on sale in 1907. A group of Investors owned the property and it the Southwest Securities Company was handling the sales for them.

SF Examine 1907
SF Examiner Oct 27, 1907
S F Examiner Oct 18, 1907

Change of Ownership

In 1910 the Henderson & Tapscotts Company purchased Toler Heights. The made a lot of improvements to the tract. Opening day in was held on May 22, 1910

Looking towards Thermal Street and 90th Avenue
Cheney Photo Advertising Company c1910
Previously sold on eBay

The photo above might be showing the Silva Ranch on Foothill Blvd

Oakland Tribune Oct 31, 1920

Opening day was on of the most successful day in residential property sold. Oakland Tribune May 24, 1910

Oakland Tribune May 24, 1910
Oakland Tribune May 22, 1910
The corner of MacArthur and 90th Avenue
Cheney Photo Advertising Company c1912
Previously sold on eBay

The Piedmont of East Oakland

SF Examiner
SF Examiner Aug 30, 1914
SF Examiner Aug 30, 1914
Oakland Tribune Mar 19, 1916

Another change in ownership

In the 1922 the property is for sale via an auction. Sales way down. Oakland Tribune May 28, 1922

Oakland Tribune May 28, 1922
Along Foothill Blvd
Oakland Tribune June 04, 1922
Oakland Tribune June 08 1922
Oakland Tribune 1923

New School – May 1928 – Now Barack Obama Academy

Oakland Tribune May 23, 1929
Oakland Tribune May 23, 1929
Toler Heights School – Now Barack Obama Academy
9736 Lawlor Street

Location

Toler Heights Google Maps

More Information on Toler Heights


More to come – Toler Heights Homes

The End

Posted in Buildings, East Oakland, History, Oakland, People, Uncategorized

Edenvale – The Talbot Estate

From Eden of the Pacific, Oakland Tribune 1898

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. 

San Francisco Chronicle Jul 28, 1888
Oakland Tribune Jul 30,1888

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?

Oakland Tribune aug 08, 1890
Oakland Tribune Sept 14, 1888

Edenvale –

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.

Talbot Home –
Cheney Photo Advertising
C 1915
View of Edenvale from the hillside
Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History 
OutWest
A Magazine – Of The Old Pacific and The New
Page 125 -July 1907


In the picture you can see the caretakers home in back (the taller one). This house is still standing today.

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

Unknown Talbot Family Members at EdenVale c 189?
Photo by I.W. Taber
Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History 

Barn Burns –

San Francisco Dec 21, 1901
Oakland Tribune May 18,1900

Talbot Farm for Sale

Oakland Tribune March 10, 1902
Town Talk March 22, 1902
Note it is 140 acres

Meanwhile…

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.

Oakland Tribune Nov 25 1919
San Francisco Examiner Feb 08, 1920

The above says 478-acres and below says 200-acres. They are dated a year apart.

Oakland Tribune Nov 23, 1919
Oakland Tribune Dec 21, 1921

A Map showing the location of R.C Durants/F.C. Talbots Mansion

Oakland Tribune 1921

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.

Oakland Tribune April 19, 1929

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 Arboretum of Metropolitan Oakland. I bet they still call it Durant Park.

Oakland Tribune May 22, 1950
To read the entire article go here

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.

Oakland Tribune 1957
The row of Canary Island Palms

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 1951 the park was renamed “Joseph Knowland State Arboretum and Park . Now called Knowland State Arboretum and Park and the Oakland Zoo.

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 the Knowland State Arboretum and Park. I need to check this out.

From the Zoo Master Plan 1996
Sidney Snow’s Home
Circa 1939
Google Map 2019 showing the caretakers home still standing in Knowland Park

Links :

A couple of things:

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.

The End for now..

Posted in East Oakland, History, People

Old Mountain George

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.

First Dentist in Oakland?

I will have to research this.

Note on cabin door “Man shot in the Gulch”

Autopsy on “Mountain George”

San Francisco Examiner July 22, 1887

A “suitable burial” in the Potter’s Field.

San Francisco Examiner July 1887
Oakland Tribune July 22, 1887

More on Mountain George

Oakland Daily Evening Tribune July 16, 1887

Mountain George Arrested before for stealing a Cow

Oakland Tribune May 1879

El Sobrante Ranch – Mountain George – Oakland Daily Evening Tribune Aug 30, 1880

1880 Federal Census he lists himself as a hunter.

I will probably be updating this sometime soon.

The End

Posted in East Oakland, Home Building, Oakland Tracts, Tract or Subdivisions

Central Terrace – 55th and Foothill

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.

Mutual Realty Co.’s Central Terrace office,
Foothill Boulevard at 55th Avenue and Trask Street looking north
Cheney Photo Adv. Co., photographers. C 1912
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.

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

Earth Sciences and Map Library,
University of California, Berkeley -Cadastral map. Historic Maps of Bay Area

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”

See brochure below
Central Terr 1915_side
Earth Sciences and Map Library,
University of California, Berkeley –
Historic Maps of Bay Area
centarl-terrace-brochure-front
Earth Sciences and Map Library,
University of California, Berkeley –
Historic Maps of Bay Area
From the Brochure
Oakland Tribune Apr 1912
Foothill Blvd at 55th Avenue
Photo By Cheney Advertising c 1912
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room
Laverne from 55th Ave
Photo By Cheney Advertising c 1912
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room
Ruth Ave from 55th Ave
Photo By Cheney Advertising c 1912
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room
Photo By Cheney Advertising c 1912
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room
Ruth Ave
Photo By Cheney Advertising c 1912
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room
55th and Ruth Ave – Google Maps
Foothill and 55th today – Google maps

More to come –