Posted in Early Montclair, Estates, Homes

A Hermits Companion

Updated July 25, 2020

Oakland Tribune

“One month before his death, Charles Kruse was leaving for the county hospital, which he never expected to return.” Kruse gave G.W. Brusseau a package with a few in intimate belongings, the key to his house, and the note.

Oakland, March 15 (?)

“This is my gift of Deed all is in my possession to Mr. G.W. Brusseau after my daet”

“Chas. Kruse”

Only Man He Trusted

Kruse only had one friend whom he trusted, according to Brusseau’s attorney. Kruse helped care for the hermit for 13 years, he never had the money to pay Brusseau for his labor but intended to see that he ultimately receive the his property.

Brusseau saved the 10-acre plot from being sold for taxes and the paid off the mortgage. It was claimed.

In March of 1923, Kruse applied for admission to the county infirmary on the grounds he was penniless. He had cancer.

Oakland Tribune 1923


Following Kruse’s death at the county hospital, preparations were being made to bury him in the potter’s field. Brusseau stepped in and said he would pay for his funeral.

Mountain View Cemetery – plot 48 Photo by REHM – Find A Grave

Brusseau purchase plot in Mountain View cemetery with bordered on his property.

He could see the grave from his porch.

Oakland Tribune 1923

Fight for Estate

The case was brought to the attention of Judge George Samuels when Brusseau filed a petition for probate of the paper as the last will Kruse.

 Because of the omission of the completed date, Judge Samuels refused probate and granted administration letters to Albert E. Hill, a Public Administrator.

Thrown Out As A Will Upheld As Deed

In June 1923, a petition was submitted to the Almeda superior to record the scrap of paper as a gift deed. In this claim, Judge James G. Quinn decided that Kruse never intended the piece of paper as a will but intended to constitute an immediate conveyance of land as a deed.

In the meantime, Brusseau had lost a third suit filed against the estate for reimbursement for his unpaid labor.

The Recorder 1927

The public administrator appealed to the California Supreme court for a decision on the title to the property.

Dying Hermit’s Note Valid

In May of 1927 the Supreme court affirmed the decision of Judge JG Quinn that the note given to Brusseau from Kruse constituted a deed to the 10-acres of land.

Oakland Tribune 1926

A Bit of History

Hays Canyon

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection -William J. Dingee’s Map of Oakland and vicinity. Compiled from Official Surveys and Records 1899 https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~275209~90048562

Charles Kruse owned and lived on 10-acres of land in Hayes Canyon since 1888.s.

Oakland Tribune 1888

 The property bordered on William J. Dingee’s land, and in 1888 Dingee sued Kruse for $93 to cover the cost of a fence.  

Kruse, for many years, peddled flowers to florists’ shops in the Eastbay.

After his death, it was discovered that he was the owner of one of the largest nurseries in Alameda county. Hidden behind a high fence and tall cypress hedges were the nursery and the tiny shack he lived.

Oakland Tribune Apr 10, 1923

The 10-acres was valued at more than $10,000 in 1923.

In about 1898, George Washington Brusseau purchases a 2-acre lot at 3200 Edith Street (now 4901 Harbord Drive).

Oakland Tribune 1895
Oakland Tribune 1895
Oakland Tribune 1896
1910 Directory

In 1926 Brusseau lived in a cottage known as the “Bat House” because of the number of animal skins tanned and nailed to the outside walls.

Oakland Tribune 1926

He farmed the land with the help of Jimmy, his faithful plow horse. He also had many dogs.

He intended to restore the rose gardens, which brought fame to his friend Charles Kruse and Oakland.

Oakland Tribune 1940

Brusseau lived there until his death in 1953

Oakland Tribune Apr 1953
1953 Directory

And now this…

Oakland Tribune Apr 15, 1948

This changes the whole story or it is just wrong?

Oakland Tribune Apr 15, 1948

Please Note: The dates and addresses vary from article to article. I tried my best to get it right. Oh well…

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 https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf0k4006n4/
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
https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf0k4006n4/

A Bedroom

Views of “The Pines “Estate by Gabriel Moulin, ca. 1927 https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf0k4006n4/

Gardens

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.

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 https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf0k4006n4/

The swimming pool and bathhouse.

Views of “The Pines “Estate by Gabriel Moulin, ca. 1927 https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf0k4006n4/

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:

Photographs

The End