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 History, Montclair, Oakland

1937 Fire – Upper Broadway Terrace

A brush and timber fire that destroyed at least four Oakland hill area homes and menaced at least 50 more burned in the area of Pine Needle Road and Upper Broadway Terrace and came close to the buildings of the new Broadway Low-Level tunnel (Caldicott Tunnel). This was on September 25, 1937.

Oakland Tribune Sep 26, 1937

The photo below was taken at the hight of the blaze but before the fire jumped Tunnel Road.

Families Flee

Scores of families fled their homes in fear; others who sought to save the belongings were ordered out by fireman.

Mrs. G.H. Cowles with Eunice and Hazel Cowles
of 6142 Pinewood Road
The W.R Powers Family lost their home at 6142 Ruthland Road.
Edith Thorpe 6, holds her pet Rhode Island Red Hen

Burned Area

The fire started close to the home of Police inspector Jesse Jackson at 6019 Pinewood Road at around 3 pm September 25, 1937. During the first six hours, the fire had burned across the western edge of the Pinehaven district up Broadway Terrace to a point just below Skyline Blvd. and back down another canyon to the west.

Oakland Tribune Sept 26, 1937

The fire chief estimated the fire burned over 9 square miles of rolling hill county.

Oakland Tribune Sept 26, 1937

Hose lines Burned

Several hundred feet of hose laid across brushy areas to link the pumps to the fire area were destroyed by flames. Lack of water was a problem, they had used up all the water in reservoirs in the immediate area.

Eyewitness Accounts

C.F. Humphrey – 13025 Broadway Terrace

Mrs. Marguerite Risley – 6493 Farralone Way

Homes Lost or Damaged

  • 15030 Broadway Terrace – Ted Gould – gone
  • 16060 Broadway Terrace – S. Albright – damaged
  • 17014 Broadway Terrace – Ed Pohley – damaged
  • 17044 Broadway Terrace – S. Sund – damaged
  • 17050 Broadway Terrace – S.C. Purser – damaged
  • 6539 Gwin Road – V. Sagues -damaged
  • 6142 Pinewood Road – G. H. Cowles – damaged
  • 6142 Ruthland – W.R. Powers – gone
The Press Democrat Sep 26. 1937

Fire Started –

The fire started when a “backyard bonfire” got out of control.

1929 Fire

There was a fire in November of 1929 in just about the same area. Some of the same homes were damaged then. The W.R. Powers home was saved in 1929 only to burn down in 1937.

Oakland Tribune Nov 15, 1929
Oakland Tribune Nov 15, 1929

1933 Fire

The was a fire in 1933 with the loss of one home at 7135 Pinehaven Road.

1930 Directory
Oakland Tribune Oct 23 1933

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 Early Montclair, History, Montclair, Photos

More Early Photos of Montclair

Moraga Avenue and La Salle

c 1940 Photo from A C Transit

The above is the corner of Moraga and LaSalle circa 1940 . Showing Montclair Pharmacy.

L60-95-Public Works Photos, Oakland Cultural Heritage Survey, Oakland City Planning Department c 1954

Above is Moraga and La Salle- showing  the Siena Deli, Montclair Donuts, Simons Cleaning Center and Ray Smith Co. Realtors in 1954. Below is 1976

C 1976 Photo by Bill Boyd

Below is the corner today

Photo from Google Maps

Montclair Terrace Building – Mountain Blvd and La Salle

The Montclair Terrace Building circa 1946 – Roger Bird

The above photo is from circa 1946 – The Montclair Terrace Building – Photo from Roger Bird

Circa 1963 Oakland Public Library,
Oakland History Room and Maps Division (Oakland, Calif.)
– ohrphoto.districts.023.jpg

The above photo is of Pete and Carl Saunders in front of the Montclair Carriage Inn on the corner of LaSalle Avenue and Mountain Boulevard.

Sept 1965:  ohrphoto.districts.022.jpg
akland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division

Two workers repairing a water main break on LaSalle Avenue at Mountain Boulevard in the Montclair district of Oakland, California.

The Montclair Terrace Building today – Google mps

Mountain Blvd

Sept 1965
ohrphoto.districts.031.jpg
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division

Mountain Boulevard at LaSalle Avenue looking west following a water main break. From Sept 1965 – Below present day

Mountain Blvd – Google Maps
Sept 1965
ohrphoto.districts.030.jpg
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room and Maps Division

The above is Mountain Boulevard at LaSalle Avenue looking west following a water main break. The below is the same

Mountain Blvd – Google maps

La Salle Avenue

The above photo is La Salle Avenue circa 1960s and below is today

La Salle Avenue – Google Maps

More to come

The End

Posted in Buildings, Early Montclair, History, Montclair, Real Estate

One of the Oldest Buildings in Montclair…or is it?

A while back I was doing a simple search on buildings in Montclair. I came across this article (posted below) from 1962, with the attached photo. It was about the destruction of building that was to be replaced with a new $125,000 building. The new building was called the Eberhart Building.

The Eberhart Building today – Google Maps

The Eberhart Building is still standing and is located at 2070 Mountain Blvd.

Oakland Tribune Jan 30, 1962

Of course I needed to find out more about the building that was now just a pile of rubbish as seen in the photo above.

The photo above shows the building as it looks today. In researching the address I find that the real estate firm Winder and Gahan first occupied the site in 1938.

According the article from 1962 – In 1921 a group of real estate men stood with “high hopes” in front of a small spanish style stucco building that looked completely out of place in the open fields of the Montclair DIstrict.

There was just a building with a sign “tract office” on it, the open fields and a dusty, narrow road in in front of it.

Oakland Tribune Jan 30, 1962

Montclair in 1921

This is probably how Montclair looked when that group of men stood in from of the building “with high hopes”. I just don’t think they were standing in front of the same building that was demolished in 1962, as noted in the article. Unless it is the one on the right and they moved it and changed the style of it?

Sales offices of real estate broker and home builder
Cos Williams 6501 Moraga
Photo c1921 by Cheney Photo Advertising F-2830
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.

The small building on the left of the above picture is the office of home builder Cos Williams. The street going up hill is La Salle Avenue. The address was 6501 Moraga Avenue.

Oakland Tribune 1925

New Real Estate Firm in Montclair

New Winder Offices in Montclair
6500 Moraga Avenue
Oakland Tribune Sep 24,1933

In 1933 A.H. WInder opened an office at the corner of Moraga Avenue and La Salle Avenue. The address was 6500 Moraga Avenue.

Winder was the exclusive sales agent for the Forest Park extension and Shepherd Canyon Park.

I bet you are wondering what this has to do with the building at 2070 Mountain Blvd. Trust me it will all make sense soon.

Oakland Tribune

In 1936 A.H. WInder and J. J. Gahan formed a new firm called “Winder & Gahan Corporation”.

Winder & Gahan Offices
6500 Moraga Ave
Oakland Tribune 1936

New Location Announced

With the expiration of their present lease at 6500 Moraga Avenue,” states A.H.Winder, “we will build a new office on the on the recently -acquired site, using a frontage of 72 feet on Mountain Boulevard”

Oakland Tribune Oct 1937
Oakland Tribune Oct 24, 1937

In 1937 the real estate firm of Winder and Gahan announced the recent purchase by the firm a piece of land (Block “H”) in the heart of the business district, near the intersection of Moraga Avenue and Mountain Boulevard.

Block H” 2070 Mountain Blvd
Alameda County Parcel Map

The Heart of Montclair Business Center

Winder & Gahan moved into their new office at 2070 Mountain Boulevard in November of 1938.

The new building at 2070 Mountain Blvd.

It would eventually be the home of Eberhart Realty. I am not sure exactly when they moved to 2070 Mountain Boulevard .

My Research

Montclair from 1935
L84-20-HJW Geospatial Inc,
Pacific Aerial Surveys, Oakland CA,
Courtesy East Bay Regional Park District.

The above picture shows “Block H” is a an empty piece of land. In 1938 Winder & Gahan would build their new offices there. That small building would be there until 1962 it was destroyed by a bulldozer as noted in the first article I posted above. That would make the building only 24 years old.

Maybe they moved the other building that is in the photo from 1921 and updated and enlarged and added stucco. What do you think?

Google Maps – 6466 Moraga Ave

I think the building on the right is the oldest building in Montclair. It is in the photos from the 1920s. It was the first home of the Montclair Realty Company. More on that later

The End

Posted in History, Oakland Tracts

Sather Park – Photos from 1914

Sather Park – 1917

Sather Park Tract is now known as Lakeshore Highlands and Trestle Glen.

I have shared a few of the photos from an album entitled “Lakeshore Highlands” that was prepared for Frederick Law Olmsted who was hired by Walter H. Leimert .

The album is from the archives of Olmsted at the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site and Courtesy of the United States Department of the Interior,
National Park Service.

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) is recognized as the founder of American landscape architecture and the nation’s foremost parkmaker. Olmsted moved his home to suburban Boston in 1883 and established the world’s first full-scale professional office for the practice of landscape design. During the next century, his sons and successors perpetuated Olmsted’s design ideals, philosophy, and influence.

I believe the photos were taken by Cheney Photo Advertising Company.

The album can be viewed here: Album 1 – Lakeshore Highlands Job #5945 –

Sather Park – June 1914

Now Lakeshore Highlands and Trestle Glen

C 1914
Courtesy of the United States Department of the Interior,
National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site

Sather Park – June 1914

Now Lakeshore Highlands and Trestle Glen – The “Glen” (a.k.a. Indian Gulch)

C 1914
Courtesy of the United States Department of the Interior,
National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.

View Southwest from between Wesley Avenue and Radnor Road – June 1914

Looking at Wesley Avenue and Lakeshore Blvd, Lake Merritt and downtown.

C 1914
Courtesy of the United States Department of the Interior,
National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.

View North Between Excelsior and Beacon Avenues – June 1914

C 1914
Courtesy of the United States Department of the Interior,
National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.

View Northwest from Between Hillgirt Circle and Haddon Road – June 1914

C 1914
Courtesy of the United States Department of the Interior,
National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.

View Southwest towards Haddon Hill – June 1914

You can the see what is now the corner of Lake Park Ave and Grand Avenue. The future home of the Grand Lake Theater.

Looking North from Hillgirt Circle North and Hillgirt Circle South – Haddon Hill – Today Prospect Avenue and Hillgirt Circle – June 1914 –

You can see Santa Clara Avenue, Grand Lake Avenue . The future location of the Grand Lake Theater , Lakeview School and the MacArthur Freeway

C 1914
Courtesy of the United States Department of the Interior,
National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.

Looking Northwest from Haddon Hill Towards Sather Tract Entrance – June 1914

Looking towards the Trader Joe’s parking lot and the Trestle Glen Road. You can see Rand Avenue and Mandana Blvd.

C 1914
Courtesy of the United States Department of the Interior,
National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.
LAKESHORE HIGHLANDS OAKLAND,
c 1918
Lake Shore Highlands; Wickham Havens –Sather Tract, formerly –Leimert, Walter H
Courtesy of the United States Department of the Interior,
National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.
Map of HADDON HILL
c1914

Courtesy of the United States Department of the Interior,
National Park Service, Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.

I will talk more about Sather Park later.

The End

Posted in Buildings, History, Oakland, People, Streets

Alden Farm

Official and historical atlas map of Alameda County, California. Compiled, drawn and published from personal examinations and surveys by Thompson & West. Oakland, Cala. 1878.
Res. & farm of P.A. Finigan, Brooklyn Tp.

The Alden Farm (Alder Farm) once stood on the land where Holy Names University is located today.

In 1874 Charles Low owned the property. A barn was located where Tobin Halls and the university’s gymnasium are today. He built a house for his family on the site where Brennan Hall stands today. You can see a map of the campus here.

Oakland Tribune May 1877
Oakland Tribune Nov 28, 1877

In 1877 Peter A. Finigan (Finnegan) purchased the property from Low and built a second house near where Cushing Library is today.

SF Examiner Jun 30, 1877

In 1884 Thomas Magee of Thomas Magee & Sons Real Estate Firm purchase the farm. I bet Magee Avenue was named after him.

Magee added a second story to the house that Finigan built.

During the early years the Magee’s would spend winter at their home in San Francisco and summer on Alden Farm. After the 1906 earthquake and fire they made their home permanently at Alden Farm.

Alden Farm was considered one of the premiere showplaces in Oakland. Many social event and weddings were held there over the years.

Oakland Tribune Jul 04, 1900
Oakland Tribune Jun 04, 1911
Oakland Tribune Jul 08,1922
Oakland Tribune Aug 10, 1924
Oakland Tribune Apr 24, 1932

Many Fires

Oakland Tribune Sep 08 1904
Oakland Tribune 19, 1931
Oakland Tribune Aug 1945

Fire Destroys Alden Farm

Oakland Tribune Mar 01, 1953
Oakland Tribune Mar 01, 1953
Oakland Tribune Sep 16, 1953

Holy Names University

Oakland Tribune Feb 04, 1955
Oakland Tribune Oct 06, 1955

Deaths of the Magee’s

More Info