I love to try and figure out the who, what and where. I would rather try to figure it out all by myself before asking for help. That is the fun part for me. Sometimes it is very easy. Other times it is not.
The biggest clue to this photo was the Higgins Church on Hopkins which is now MacArthur Blvd. I started there.
I started looking into the Higgins Church. The church in 1898 was located near Fruitvale Ave and Hopkins in the old Fruitvale School building. It had some connection to the Fred Finch Orphanage
In 1907 the laid the corner stone for a new church at the corner of School St and Boston. The church was renamed Fruitvale ME Church. Joaquin Miller read a poem at the ground breaking. The church building was dedicated in 1908. The church building is still there with a few additions or modifications and is located at 3111 Boston. It now called the First Samoan Congregation Christian Church
A couple days ago I found a Knave article “Memories linger for Dimond District Pioneers” in the Oakland Tribune November 1970 the 2nd page of the article included this same picture with some new clues.
I now have clues for the house and a different church. So off I went to find out more.
I think the location has been solved. I thought the house was moved or demolished due to building the freeway and it almost was. I am so glad it is still there.
Recently someone asked about when 7-Eleven came to Montclair. Which was about 1958.
I thought I would go back a little farther and tell you about the first store in Montclair.
A little history…
In 1925 the land that 7-Eleven is now on was bought by a man named Otto Schuneman. Mr. Schuneman then built a store. His store was a combination fountain and grocery store and a service station in front. The original building is still standing behind the 7-11 store.
In 1930 according to the article in the Montclarion (below) from 1957 the store was closed down by the Board of Trade. I haven’t been able to confirm this.
I haven’t been able to find any photos of the store or the station.
Funk’s Grocery – 1930-1940
In March of 1930, Davis L. Funk leased the store from Schuneman and bought out his remaining stock. Mr. Funk had owned a couple other stores in Oakland.
He called his store Funk’s Grocery.
The Funk family lived at 5677 Thornhill in the mid to late 30s to early 40s.
In the early 1960s the Montclair Presbyterian Church next door bought the house from the owners.
My ex-husband and I worked for the church from 1983- 1987 and we got to live in the house.
This house, grocery store and the Thorn Road Bible School (now Montclair Presbyterian) were all built in 1925-27.
In 1940 Funk took on a partner his son-law Malcom “Scotty” Hodge the husband of his daughter Lenore and the store was re-named the Montclair Food Center.
Funk and Hodge ran the store together until Funk died in 1949 his home on Grisborne Ave, behind the store.
Hodge and his wife continued on after that until 1957 when they could’t work out a new lease with the owner Otto Schuneman. My thought is…it was because he could make more money leasing it to Speedee Mart
When the store closed down in 1957 it was the last on Montclair that had maintained a credit and delivery service. Montclair Food Center was more than just a store to many of the customers of 20 years or more.
By 1957 Montclair was also changing. Payless Grocery Store (soon to be Luckys) and LaSalle Avenue Market were located in the business district and soon a new Safeway would be built.
Speedee Mart – 1958-1966?
In about 1958 the store was leased by Speedee Mart Corporation.
In 1964 the parent company of the 7-Eleven Stores bought all the Speedee Mart franchises in California.
They began slowly changing the name to 7-Eleven (7-11)
I recently found an article from 1961 about the discovery of an underground tunnel on what was the MacDermont Mansion in West Oakland. This is what I discovered looking into the mansion. MacDermot Mansion – Oakland Local wiki
Forgotten Tunnel Revives Dimming Memories
Oakland Tribune – March 23, 1961
In 1961 the Peralta Villa’s a 20-year-old WWII housing unit was being demolished to make room for new low rent apartments. They were located in the area bounded by 7th, 8th, Center and Cypress Streets.
While clearing the land workman discovered a concrete-lined tunnel – long forgotten and never recorded on the city records.
Was it a WWII bomb shelter? Did rum runners use it during prohibition?
The guesses proved to be wrong but an interesting story.
The tunnel (built between 1905 -1910) was the work of Louis MacDermot the son of a prominent early Oakland family who owned the land. Their home (1407 8th St) was built sometime before 1876 (some say it could have been the French consul). Charles F. MacDermont’s name appears on title records as early as 1870. The home was a showplace with landscaped grounds covering the entire block. In the 1920s the city proposed buying the site for a park, but the plan fell through. The home stood empty and decaying behind a wooden fence until 1941 when it was razed to make way for the war-time housing. The tunnel went undetected then.
The concrete-lined tunnel ran across the stable yards from the brick boiler room near the family home to a machine shop. It was about 3 feet wide and 4 1/2 feet high. There were L-shaped hooks with oval rollers embedded on the sides. Conductors for electrical wire had been installed on the ceiling. The hooks apparently held steam lines which heat the machine shop.
The man who built Railroads – the small ones
Railroad buffs might know the name Louis MacDermot. He built miniature railroads. He and his mechanics designed locomotives, freight cars, and coaches in great detail.
In 1913, he was awarded the concession to build and operate an intramural railway at the Panama Pacific International Expositiondue to open in February 1915. He started construction in his “back yard. The first completed locomotive was the work engine No. 1500, an 0-6-0T type.
The Overfair Railway, that ran along the Marina between Fort Mason and the Presidio. A 10 cent fare provided transportation to the Polo Field, State / Foreign buildings, California Building, Exhibit Palaces, Yacht Harbor, and The Zone.
Overfair Railway on the Marina – San Francisco Bay -1915 –SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY.
Overfair Railway on the Marina – San Francisco Bay -1915 –SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY.
Life after the fair – The Decline of the MacDermot Estate
After the Fair, MacDermot became a recluse and stayed on the deteriorating grounds of the family’s Oakland mansion. Unfortunately, this fate was also shared by the Overfair Railway’s locomotives and wooden passenger and freight cars. The locomotives had the luxury of spending their “retirement” in sheds. The others did not fare so well.
Another photo of the MacDermot home with one of cars in the yard – OMCA
In 1941 he agreed to build the “The Mountain Lion Railway” for the Oakland Zoo. He moved three engines and the twelve best passenger cars to the Alameda County Zoological Gardens (today’s Oakland Zoo). Beginning on August 1, 1941, with two cars running behind a forlorn No. 1913, the operation started. The faithful Pacific had lost both its boiler jacket and its leading truck, relegating No. 1913 to the status of a 0-6-2. The Overfair equipment had substantially deteriorated and MacDermot increasingly erratic behavior soon forced the Zoo’s management to eject the railway. Please see – Swanton Pacific Railroad Society Newsletter January 2008
The Swanton Pacific Railroad serves as an operational memorial to Al Smith who acquired and relocated the trains to the Swanton Pacific Ranch. The rolling stock consists of three one-third scale Pacific-type steam locomotives that were built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, a diesel switcher locomotive and a variety of passenger and maintenance of way railcars.
Audrey Robinson was the first African American teacher at Thornhill Elementary School in Oakland Ca.
Audrey Lucinda Robinson was the daughter of Charles Nelson and Maude Gibson. She was born in 1915 in Oakland. She attended Peralta School and graduated from Claremont in 1930 and University High in 1933. The family lived at 6148 Colby Street.
She was a member of the Colored YWCA at 8th and Linden in West Oakland. She was a member of a club that included Lionel Wilson the former Mayor of Oakland.
Audrey married Frederick D. Robinson, a Washington, D.C. police officer in 1941 shortly before he was deployed to fight in World War II. In 1944 Robinson died during combat in Italy.
Thornhill Elementary School
She was the first African American teacher at Thornhill School in the Montclair District of Oakland. She taught kindergarten for 10 years from 1966-1976. She said that she never experienced any form of racism from the children, staff or parents. She said about one African American child would join her class every year. She loved her time at Thornhill and love the children. She was loved by the children.
Audrey was dedicated to preserving the history of African Americans in the City of Oakland and she volunteered with the African American Museum and Library of Oakland (AAMLO). She also became very active at the Oakland Museum, serving as Docent Chairman for the History Department. She also served as Vice President of Administration for the Cameron-Stanford House Preservation Association.
Audrey passed away in June of 2008 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Audrey was predeceased by her husband, a WW II fatality, and her son. She is survived by her daughter, Jeri, her grandson Frederick and two great-grandsons.
A special edition of my blog, in honor of Black History Month and a wonderful man.
I was lucky enough to know Clavin Simmons personally. He was the conductor of Oakland Symphony when I worked there.
Calvin Simmons Conductor
Let me back up a little bit my mom Sarah Chambers started working at the Oakland Symphony in 1977 when I was still high school. She started as the receptionist and worked her way up the ladder to the Director of Education. During the summer she would volunteer me to hand out flyers at lunchtime events. One of our board members would do the same of her daughter Libby Schaff, now the Mayor of Oakland. I was hired in 1980 as the receptionist and I also worked my way up the ladder to Box Office/Marketing Assistant. We both worked for the symphony until September 1986 when they filed for bankruptcy.
Before the Oakland Symphony
Calvin was born in San Francisco in 1950. Music was apart of his life from the beginning. His Mother taught him the piano. By age 11, he was conducting the San Francisco Boys Chorus.
The Maestro Kid
He was the assistant conductor with the San Francisco Opera from 1972 to 1975, winning the Kurt Herbert Adler Award.
He remained active at the San Francisco Opera for all his adult life, supporting General Director Kurt Herbert Adler, first as a repetiteur and then as a member of the conducting staff. He made his formal debut conducting Giacomo Puccini’s La Bohème with Ileana Cotrubas. His later work on a production of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District drew national attention. In 1979 he conducted the premiere of Menotti’s La Loca at San Diego.
Conductors Simon Rattle and Calvin Simmons, who both worked with Glyndebourne early in their careers in the mid-1970s.
He made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera conducting Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, returning the following year. He was on the musical staff at Glyndebourne from 1974 to 1978 and conducted the Glyndebourne Touring Opera.
His final concerts were three performances of the Requiem of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in the summer of 1982 with the Masterworks Chorale and the Midsummer Mozart Festival Orchestra.
Simmons became musical director of the Oakland Symphony Orchestra at age 28 in 1978. He was one of the early African-American conductors of a major orchestra.
His debut or audition was in early 1978.
A wordless Maestro – September 1978
Finale – 1982
On Sunday, August 22, 1982, I was at next door helping my husband who was repairing our neighbor’s roof. All of a sudden my Mom screams out the window that Calvin has died. Such a sad day. It took another week to find his body. It was such a loss to Oakland and to the music world. He was on his way to greatness.
Calvin was visiting friends in Upper State New York. Connery Pond was a place he went to a lot to unwind and regroup. While waiting for dinner he decided to take a canoe ride out in the. He was by himself about 150 feet from the shore, he was a good swimmer. A woman was taking pictures of the sunset from the shore. She pointed her camera towards Calvin and he must have noticed that and being the ham he was, he stood up to pose. He then fell into the water.
A memorial service was held on Sept 07, 1982 at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, more than 2200 people attended.
A memorial concert was held on Sept 20, 1982, at the Paramount Theatre the home of the Oakland Symphony.
Various articles from August 1982
A Final Tribute
For more on Calvin:
Calvin joined the Youth Orchestras tour in July of 1982
In 1926 the First Presbyterian Church of Oakland approved the plans to build a Bible School in the Montclair District of Oakland. The building was to cost about $25,000. It became necessary due that they had outgrown the temporary accommodations at the school. They grew from seven children in January to eighty in July.
Thorn Road Students
Thorn Road Students
Thorn Road Bible Students circa 1926
In June of 1927, it was announced that the school would be open for four weeks during summer vacation.
Oakland Tribune June 1927
The 1920s showed major growth in Montclair and the bible school started having Sunday services for the residents of the area. They held Easter Services up on Skyline Dr and festive Christmas services.
Sunrise Service and Christmas circa 1928
In 1930 Montclair Presbyterian Church was organized with 90 Charter Members.
In 1938 they built a new Chapel which was there until they built the present complex in the mid-1960s at 5701 Thornhill Drive.