Posted in Early Montclair, History

Early Photos of Montclair

Some early photos of the Montclair District of Oakland – all are from the Oakland Public Library History Room.

When I can I will show the area now.

I will start off with one of the earliest photos of Montclair that I have seen. This is circa 1886. I hope that there are more like this.

Then

Students and teachers at Hays School front of the school.
Circa 1886
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.

Now

Montclair Fire House – Google Maps

Another photo of the Montclair Firehouse

Storybook firehouse on Moraga Avenue in the Montclair
Circa 1934
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.

The photo below is overlooking the area that is now Montclair Elementary School and in the distance you can see the intersection of Thornhill and Mountain Blvd and the Women’s Club.

Tracks for the Oakland, Antioch and Eastern Railway
(later Sacramento Northern Railway) in Montclair
Circa 1925
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.

Then

LaSalle Avenue looking down the hill towards Mountain Boulevard
Montclair Real estate offices and trolley depot in view.
circa 1927
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.

Now

Looking down LaSalle Ave towards HWY 13 – Google maps

The photo below is probably on LaSalle Ave from Mountain Blvd. the small building are where Highway 13 is now.

Sales offices of real estate broker and home builder Cos Williams in Montclair –
circa 1925 Eston Cheney, photographer.
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.

The photo below is probably taken from where Highway 13 is now. Off in the distance is the Sacramento Northern Station located at what is now the top of LaSalle Ave as seen in the above photos.

Graded and staked lots in the undeveloped Montclair
Signs for the Cos Williams Montclair sales offices
circa 1925
Eston Cheney, photographer.
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room

Then

North east corner of Mountain Boulevard and Medau Place
Fred F. Chopin on Montclair Realty Co.
circa 1950
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.

Now

Corner of Mountain Blvd and Medau Place – Google Maps

Then

Sidewalk construction on Mountain Boulevard near Antioch Street Montclair
Cica 1958
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.

Now

Looking Up Mountain Blvd. Google Maps

Then

Construction Scout Road and Mountain Boulevard in the Montclair
circa 1955
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.

Now

Scout Road and Mountain Blvd – Google Maps

The photo below is overlooking the area that is now the intersection of Oakwood and Thornhill Drives. Showing houses on Oakwood Drive

Looking out towards the bay from near the ridge-line above the Montclair
Several winding dirt roads and homes in view.
circa 1930
Eston Cheney, photographer
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.

The End

Posted in Fruitvale, History, Oakland

Homes near Fruitvale…

Sometime ago I found this picture on the Oakland History Room online site.

Homes near Fruitvale Avenue and Hopkins Street (later MacArthur Boulevard) in the Dimond district of Oakland, California. A large vegetable garden dominates the foreground and Higgins Church on Hopkins Street is in view towards the back. DATE: [circa 1905] Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.

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

Oakland Tribune Mar 1896
Oakland Tribune Mar 1896

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

Oakland Tribune May 1907
Oakland Tribune 1907
San Francisco Call July 1908

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.

Oakland Tribune Nov 1970

I now have clues for the house and a different church. So off I went to find out more.

The house is located at 3231 Boston Ave at Harold St
The church is located at 2464 Palmetto St. While it is no longer a church I believe this is the same building. See below
From Google maps – 3231 Boston Ave today
From Goggle maps -2460 Palmetto – today

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.

From Google maps – The area today– Thanks Morgan!

The End

Posted in Early Montclair, History, Montclair Tracts

The First Store in Montclair

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.

Note – Montclair Presbyterian Church (MPC) was formed in March of 1930 as was the Montclair Library http://oaklandlibrary.org/events/montclair-branch/come-celebrate-montclair-librarys-85th-anniversary-us .

1941 Directory for Montclair

Montclair Food Center – 1940-1957

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.

Oakland Tribune 1949

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

Montclarion 1957
Montclarion 1957

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)

The End

Posted in History, West Oakland

A Forgotten Tunnel…

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.

Oakland_Tribune_Thu__Mar_23__1961_
Oakland Tribune Mar 1961

The Tunnel

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.

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The MacDermont Property 1407 8th Street Oakland CA

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.

Partial View of the Machine Shop at 1407 8th Street, Oakland
Partial View of the Machine Shop at 1407 8th Street, Oakland – ppie100.org

The man who built Railroads – the small ones

louis 1901
Louis MacDermot- 1901 -From the ppie.org

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.

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From the ppie100.org

In 1913, he was awarded the concession to build and operate an intramural railway at the Panama Pacific International Exposition due 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.

Engine No 1500 – ready to be moved

Swanton Pacific Railroad Society Newsletter January 2012

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.

Altoona_Tribune_Wed__Mar_10__1915_
March 1915

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.

MacDermont Home C 1930
MacDermot  Estate c 1940 -Swanton Pacific Railroad

Another photo of the MacDermot home with one of cars in the yard – OMCA

Swanton Pacific Railroad Society Newsletter January 2012

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

Oakland_Tribune_Sun__Nov_10__1940_
Oakland Tribune November 11, 1940

MacDermot and Sid Snow 1941
Oakland Tribune 1941

Louis MacDermot with Sid Snow – 1941 from the  Swanton Pacific Railroad Society Newsletter – February 2004

Moving Day 1940 or 1941 and Overfair train coming up the grade at the Oakland Zoo with Sid Snow’s home in the background – (which I believe is from the Talbot Estate and not the Durant Estate as noted) from the  Swanton Pacific Railroad Society Newsletter December 2007

Lost Dream

Oakland_Tribune_Sun__Jan_25__1959_.jpg
Oakland Tribune Jan 1959

Oakland_Tribune_Tue__Aug_27__1968_
Oakland Tribune 1968

Oakland_Tribune_Sun__Jan_5__1969_
Oakland Tribune 1969

The railroad lives on

Swanton Pacific Railroad in Davenport CA

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.

 Cal Poly’s Live Steam Railroad –  Swanton Pacific Railroad

For more on the railroad – 

Posted in History, Other

Audrey Lucinda Robinson

Audrey Lucinda Robinson – 1915-2008

Audrey Robinson was the first African American teacher at Thornhill Elementary School in Oakland Ca.

Mrs Robinson 1966 thornhill
Thornhill School 1966-1967

Early Years

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.

Oakland_Tribune_Sun__Jan_15__1928_.jpg
Oakland Tribune 1928

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.

Oakland_Tribune_Sun__Apr_5__1942_
Oakland Tribune April 1942

 

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.

Retirement

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.

References:

Posted in History

Calvin Simmons – 1950-1982

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

Calvin
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.

The_San_Francisco_Examiner_Mon__Jan_28__1985_

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_San_Francisco_Examiner_Fri__Sep_19__1969_
SF Examiner Sept 19, 1969

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.

 

 

SF Examiner 1972

He was also the assistant conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Zubin Mehta.

 

The_Los_Angeles_Times_Sat__Feb_1__1975_

LA Times Feb 01, 1975

 

Conductors Simon Rattle and Calvin Simmons, who both worked with Glyndebourne early in their careers in the mid-1970s.

 

Photograph Roy Jones Hulton-Deutsch Collection CORBIS

Photograph: Roy Jones/ Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS

 

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.

 

The_Los_Angeles_Times_Tue__Jan_20__1976_ (3)

 

 

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.

 

Oakland Symphony

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.

 

The_San_Francisco_Examiner_Sun__Apr_16__1978_
SF Examiner April 1978

 

The_San_Francisco_Examiner_Sun__Apr_23__1978_
SF Examiner April 1978

The_San_Francisco_Examiner_Sun__Feb_19__1978_

 

 

A wordless Maestro – September 1978

The_San_Francisco_Examiner_Tue__Sep_26__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 1982The_San_Francisco_Examiner_Mon__Aug_23__1982_

The_San_Francisco_Examiner_Mon__Aug_23__1982_ (1)

Philadelphia_Daily_News_Tue__Aug_24__1982_

The_Boston_Globe_Tue__Aug_24__1982_

 

The_San_Francisco_Examiner_Tue__Aug_31__1982_

A Final Tribute

The_San_Francisco_Examiner_Tue__Sep_7__1982_ (1)

The_San_Francisco_Examiner_Tue__Sep_7__1982_The_San_Francisco_Examiner_Tue__Sep_7__1982_ (2)

 

For more on Calvin:

The_Windsor_Star_Fri__Jan_22__1982_

 

 

Calvin joined the Youth Orchestras tour in July of 1982

 

Posted in Early Montclair, History

Thorn Road Bible School

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Drawing by Charles Williams circa 1927

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.

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The first students at Thorn Road Bible School  at Montclair Grammer School circa 1926

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.

 

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Sunrise Service c 1926 

Sunrise Service and Christmas circa 1928

 

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Members of Thorn Road Bible School circa 1928

In 1930 Montclair Presbyterian Church was organized with 90 Charter Members.

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Oakland Tribune April 05, 1930

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Oakland Tribune April 05, 1930

In 1938 they built a new Chapel which was there until they built the present complex in the mid-1960s at  5701 Thornhill Drive.

Oakland Tribune 1936 and 1938

The Chapel as it looked in 1940

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