Montclair East is a shopping center with business offices located at 2220 Mountain Blvd. It is now called Village Square.
James Fernhoff, a local real estate broker, was the initial developer.
Sidney Chown owned the 2 1/2 acre plot before the building of Montclair East.
Sidney Chown was one of Northern California’s best-known horsemen when he died in 1961. He owned and operated grocery stores in Oakland and Berkeley.
The Chown’s purchased the land in approximately 1920. They were considered some of the founding residents in Montclair.
Chown and his friends organized Piedmont Trails Club. He built up his ranch to include 12 stalls and an arena for horses.
After his death, his wife Lucille sold the property.
During an Oakland City Planning Commission public hearing where Lucille A. Chown was asking for her property at 2220 Andrews St (the site) to be rezoned as commercial.
Fernhoff stated “the project would include parking for 110 cars, rustic architecture with shake roofs and no bowling alleys, drive-ins, car washed or super markets.” He said only ‘high class” businesses would be permitted.
Opponents, including several business owners, complained it would “spilt the business district” and isn’t needed. Apartments would be better, some said.
In August 1963, the city council approved the $750,000 project after the planning commission spilt 3-3 on its recommendation.
Montclair East Fought
In October 1963, a group of twelve property owners near the site brought a suit against the City of Oakland.
They charged that a new shopping center was unnecessary, would create traffic problems, and damage residential property values.
James Fernhoff contended that the site is unsuitable for residential development because it was the site of the future interchange of the Warren and Shepherd Canyon(unbuilt) Freeways.
The groundbreaking was held in February of 1965. A gold-plated shovel was used to break the hard old ground.
Construction and Design
Construction for Montclair East, a 1.2 million dollar shopping center, began in May of 1965.
The plans called for a 28,000 square foot building with 20,000 feet on the ground floor devoted to a restaurant and 12 shops and 7,600 feet on the second floor to eight offices. The parking lot would accommodate 111 cars.
The center was designed by Robert B. Liles, an architect from San Francisco.
First Store to Open
Jim Fox opened his fourth supermarket located in Montclair East on September 21, 1966.
The new store featuring wall-to-wall carpeting was the first to open at the shopping center. The store occupied 6,000 square feet
Captain Satellite made an appearance at the formal ceremony held the following weekend.
“We are building this clubhouse beyond our immediate requirement but with an eye to the future”
Mrs. E.T. Jepson Nov 08, 1925
A New Clubhouse
“A very handsome $10,000 structure is planned for the Montclair Clubhouse. It will be 109 by 40 feet and will contain a large auditorium, stage, dressing room, dining room, kitchen, check room, restroom, and basement space, which will be utilized as billiard room.”
The groundbreaking celebration was held in March of 1925 at the junction of Thorn Road (now Thornhill Drive) and Mountain Blvd.
Members of the Montclair Improvement Club inNovember of 1925 and began constructing the new clubhouse.
New Clubhouse Opens
In March of 1926, the Montclair Improvement Club held the $ 20,000 Montclair Community clubhouse formal dedication.
The structure is one-story and is of Spanish architecture. Features included an auditorium with stage and fireplace, dining and reception rooms, an electrically equipped kitchen.
John Perona was the builder who donated his services. Contributions of labor from club members reduced the cost of construction.
They also planned to have tennis and handball courts, a playground for children, and a golf course.
In March of 1926, the Montclair Improvement Club held their first dance at the new clubhouse.
A Bit of History
The beginnings of the Montclair Improvement Club can be traced back to as early as 1923.
After a few years, it became the Montclair Bussiness Assoc.
Membership was made up of residents of Montclair, Merriewood, and Forest Park.
The Women’s Auxiliary to the Montclair Improvement Club was also formed in 1923. The name was changed to Montclair Women’s Club in 1925 when it became affiliated with the California Federation of Women’s Clubs
Montclair Women’s Clubhouse
In May of 1928, the women’s club purchased the clubhouse from Montclair Improvement Club.
They held their first dance in August of 1928.
Clubhouse Damaged in Fire
In November of 1928, a fire damaged the interior of the clubhouse.
Clubhouse is Sold
In 1996 the Montclair Women’s Club was sold. From 1996 until 2015, it was an events center called the Montclair Women’s Cultural Arts Club.
There was temporary station at the corner of Moraga and Hampton (now La Salle). Local builder Cos Williams a local builder donated the use of the land.
An average day
Report at 9 am – They would report for duty at the station and 13th and Hopkins (now MacArthur), and drive the hook and ladder up to Montclair. They did all their cooking on an outdoor camp stove
Off at 7 pm – At the end of they would pile onto the truck again and drive down the hill.
Lieutenant F.H. Waldron was the commanding officer.
L.W. Parks – driver
E.E. Terrell – driver
F.W. Cochran – hoseman
They fought two fires on their first day.
Engine Company No. 24
In June of 1926, $11,000 was appropriated for a new firehouse in Montclair. The city purchased the land from the school department in December of 1926 for $4,500. The final construction cost was $18,900.
Construction of the new firehouse got underway in early 1927. Fire Commissioner Colburn officially accepted the firehouse in August of 1927.
The land that the firehouse is on was once the Hays Canyon School.
Plans were drawn up by Eldred E. Edwards of the Oakland Public Works Department.
The style of architecture is primarily Old English. The construction method was unique among firehouses at that time, being pre-cast of cement, molded on the ground. All the plumbing fixtures and water pipes, conduits for electrical wires were cast in cement.
The roof consisted of 100 curved slabs of concrete set in grooved beams and held in place with slotted bolts.
Doubled copper strips run along the ridges and form decorative motifs at the gable peaks. These decorations simulate fire, which follows along the peaked roofline and leaps into flames and gable corners. The copper has been painted white.
Fire Captain Killed in the Line of Duty
Fire Captain Joseph F. Pimentel was killed, and three firemen were injured when their fire truck skidded out of control at the corner of Taurus and Broadway Terrace. Pimentel was pinned against a tree.
The fire truck was headed to a small blaze at the home of Otto R. Johnson at 6356 Crown Avenue.
January 22, 1942
The injured firemen were Patrick S. Doyle, John Baratini, and Ray O. Wells.
Oakland’s Best Decorated Firehouse
In 1951 Engine Company No. 24 was awarded the first prize of $500.00 for being Oakland’s best decorated firehouse. The Oakland Tribune also awarded the firehouse a perpetual trophy, which was installed in the house.
The firehouse was an old church scene, with a “Surrey with a Fringe on Top” arriving. Animated choir boys accompanied by an old pump organ, are shown singing Christmas carols.
In 1952 they erected an old-time country store… complete with pot-bellied stove and family photographs and animated figures. Inside a clerk is showing a blushin customer, a lady, a pair of “long john” underwear. Nearby is a blacksmith shop. There was a large holly wreath on front of the firehouse.
In 1953 the firehouse was decorated as a church with a choir loft and organ. A special merit award was given to the house by the SF Examiner.
Montclair Fires and Such
Teddy of Engine No. 24
Earthquake Hazard – 1960s
The Hayward Fault runs right down the middle of Moraga Avenue in front of the firehouse.
Because of that, the firehouse was determined to be an earthquake hazard and could not be repaired. The city hired Anderson, Simonds, Dusel and Campini to provide architectural services for a new firehouse.
The city was prepared to tear down the Montclair firehouse and build a new one for $165,000. After an outside firm determined it was indeed unsafe to that day’s standards.
City Delays Replacing Firehouse
In October of 1962, Oakland’s City Council held up the money to build a new firehouse and wondered if the money could be used to “repair” it instead.
The firehouse is called ” the country club of the city” and “if it is unsafe so’s my house.”
There was a dispute over the city manager’s report that the firehouse was damaged enough during a recent earthquake (??)to make it a hazard to its occupants. One architect said it could be repaired at little expanse with some structural steel.
“two independent consultants said the building is unsafe and should be replaced.“
Oakland City Manager 1962
I can only assume that Oakland had money problems b they were no longer going to build a new firehouse. Instead, the council approved $22,000 for structural reinforcements, waterproof, and more habitable.
In January 1964, a contract was awarded to M.W. Garing for $13,975 to repair the firehouse.
Loma Prieta – 1989
The firehouse was damaged in in the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. The house was decommissioned in 1991.
Oakland City Landmark #34
On March 18, 1980, the old fire station was designated as Oakland City Landmark #34
Address: 6226 Moraga Avenue, Oakland, California
Fire Station was decommissioned around 1993 due to concerns that a facility for first responders should not be located on an active earthquake fault,” a city report stated.
In 2018 City officials announce that they were seeking development or purchase proposals for two parcels on Moraga Road. One is a vacant property totaling 24,000 square feet and the other totals 16,000 square feet and contains the Montclair Fire Station, also known as Firehouse No. 24.
A bit of history of 2062 Mountain Blvd. According to the OHA, the building was constructed in 1946 for Klee’s and designed byFrederick Dyer-Bennet. An addition was made in 1951, designed by John Carl Warnecke. The building was divided and the facade changed c.1990.
I could only could find one photo of the Equinox.
Johnnie Lee Jackson was the chef in 1948-1949. Johnny Radell was chef in 1949
In 1951, the restaurant was purchased by A. J. Flagg and John S. Flagg, who already owned Pland’s Restaurant. A. J. spent considerable time and money remodeling the restaurant before opening it in March 1952. Joe Kiklas was manager, and famed maitre d’hotel, Jerome DeFelice was host.
In 1953, the restaurant was sold to Sanford Cohn. Sanford’s closed in 1972.
Most who grew up in the Montclair District of Oakland have fond memories of Mort’s Drive-in on the corner of Moraga and Medau. My memories of Mort’s are from when it was on Thornhill Drive next to the 7-11. The smell of french fries (the best!)wafting through the air and into our classrooms would make our mouths water. I can still remember how good they smelled and tasted. Yum!
Long before Mort’s opened at the corner of Moraga Avenue and Medau Place, the land was part of the Medau Dairy. (read about the Medau’s here).
FYI – I don’t know why McKeen’s was sold. I am thinking the owner’s political life was taking up a lot of his time. But that is just my opinion.
The Corner of Moraga and Medau – 6420 Moraga
Here is how the corner looked like in 1954.
McKeen’s Charcoal Broiler
On a shakedown run, they sold three hundred “Big Mac’s” in four hours.
“Big Mac” & “Little Mac”
In 1958 Robert “Bob” Mckeen, a local realtor, opened a delightful contemporary style barbecue restaurant. The ex-Cal basketball star planned on eventually having a chain of them, and Montclair was the first one. It offered both take home and on the site dining.
“Montclair claims Big Bob and his natty new spot.”
Morton “Mort” and Gertrude Saunders bought McKeen’s in 1961 and reopened it as Mort’s Drive-In.
In April of 1966, fire swept through Mort’s Drive-In, causing several thousand dollars in damage.
The building was broken into through a rear window. Police believe the intruders were disappointed in not finding any cash on the premises. Papers and rubbish were piled in the middle of the room and set on fire.
Mort Sauders, the owner, offered a reward of $100 for information.
Going, going gone!
Crown Liquors and Cleaners
In 1967 a new building replaced the Drive-In.. Crown has been there ever since.
A special thanks to Chris Treadway for the clippings from the Montclarion.
In this series of posts, I hope to show Then and Now images Oakland Schools. Along with a bit of history of each school, I highlight.
Note: Piecing together the history of some of the older schools is sometimes tricky. I do this all at home and online — a work in progress for some. I have been updating my posts when I find something new. Let me know of any mistakes or additions.
Montera Junior High
Montera and Joaquin Miller Schools are located where Camp Dimond owned by the Boy Scouts once was. The camp opened in 1919 and closed in 1949 when the land purchased by the board of education.
The groundbreaking ceremony was held in December of 1957. The school was next to Joaquin Miller Elementary School. Speakers at the event were Peter C. Jurs, member of the board, Mrs. Robert Hithcock, President of the Joaquin Miller PTA, Zoe Kenton, eighth-grade student, Jim Ida seventh grade student, and Supt Selmer Berg. Rev Robert H. Carley led the invocation.
Malcolm D. Reynolds and Loy Chamberlain designed the school. The new school featured: Administration Offices.
Naming the School
The school was temporarily called Joaquin Miller Junior High that was because it is adjacent to Joaquin Miller Elementary School.
As is the case of all new Oakland School, the students, faculty, and community help choose the name of the school.
Recommendations to the school board from the school’s parent -facility club were as follows:
Jack London Junior High
Montera Junior High
Pineview Junior High
They were set to vote on the name at the next board meeting. Before they could vote, they received a second letter from the parent-faculty club at the school withdrawing the recommendation of Jack London Junior High.
Theparents said that
London was not a fit person for the honor.“
Parent – Faculty
A student representative said, “Montera Junior High” was the top choice for those attending the school. The area was known historically as the Montera District.
The school was formally dedicated as Montera Junior High on November 10, 1959
In 2011, Montera became a California Distinguished School. The woodshop is another source of school pride, having celebrated over 50 years of teaching children the arts of woodcraft. It is the only remaining woodshop in an Oakland middle school.
The Grateful Dead once partied at 6024 Ascot Drive in the Piedmont Pines section of Oakland.
In 1948 house at 6024 Ascot Drive was advertised as an ‘ A Little Bit of Mexico” in beautiful Piedmont Hills ( Piedmont Pines), nestled in a glorious 2 1/4 acres: balconies overlooking a beautiful swimming pool. All the tiles in the bathrooms came from the Muresque Tile Co. of Oakland, one of the premier West Coast tilemakers in the 1920s and ’30s. Property highlights include a log cabin family room.
In 1968 Michael Leibert, his wife Alexa, and their 5 dogs lived at 6024 Ascot. Leibert was the founder of the Berkeley Repertory Theater.
The house had a routine existence until sometime during the late sixties, the house was rented by Owsley “Bear” Stanley (1935-2011) was an American audio engineer and chemist.
Stanley was the first known private individual to manufacture mass quantities of LSD. By his own account, between 1965 and 1967, Stanley produced no less than 500 grams of LSD, amounting to a little more than five million doses.
In 1924 brothers Paul and Herman Pause formed Montclair Realty Co. Before that, Paul worked for the Realty Syndicate.
The business district of Montclair looked like this when Montclair Realty was formed. Cos. Williams, a builder, was the only other business at that time.
In 1932 they moved into their new offices at6466 Moraga Avenue. The building was occupied by B. Brooks, another real estate agent. The building was still standing in 2019.
6466 Moraga Avenue – 2019
Montclair Highlands “All the World No View Like his”
In 1928 Montclair Realty was the developer and selling agents for a new tract behind the business district of Montclair. One of the first homes was the “Model View Home,” built-in 1928. Please see my page on this – The Highest Home in Oakland
In 1934 Montclair Realty celebrated its 10th anniversary. During this time, they specialized in the development of the Montclair area. Oakland Tribune 1934
In 1937 Paul Pause announced that Montclair Realty Company had a new home. The new two-story building was designed by Harvey Slocombe in an authentic Spanish style, complete with patio and tile roof. Howard Gilkey developed the garden.
Dramatically different the Pent House Model home brings to you “Ideas of 1938” in colorful interior finishes and modern furnishings. – Oakland Tribune 1937
The building was demolished in 1961 to make room for the expansion of the Standard Station next door.
Silver Anniversary – 1949
Paul Pause was a founding member of the Montclair Improvement Club. He was a member of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce residential committee and its highway and transportation committee. He was also a member of the Commonwealth Club.
Death and New Owners
Paul Pause died in 1950. He was an essential figure in the development of Montclair since the beginning.
Lucille Chasnoff purchased the company sometime after Pause died in 1950. John Mallett purchased the company from her.
New Office in 1954-56
In 1954 a new office building was built at 2084 Mountain Blvd. Montclair Realty offices were on the ground floor. It was the only office building that had its own off-street parking. The offices featured gold walls with charcoal woodwork with built-in desks and partitions. In 2019 a brand new building replaced the old and outdated Montclair Realty Office Building.
February 19, 1972 – Little Sister, Gunn, and Thunderclap
March 04, 1972 – Little John featuring John Hart
April 08, 1972 – Loading Zone –
September 30, 1972 – Anglo Saxon – with John Hart formerly of Little John
November ?? 1972 – Gold
*Green Death with Kurt Steele did the light show
From the Forgotten Montclair Group – “Their light shows were mostly two shallow glass bowls, placed on an overhead projector. The bottom bowl held oil and food coloring, and the top bowl fitted inside it, allowing them to squish the colors around in kaleidoscopic patterns. They set up their equipment and chairs on a table in the back of the room where the band played. Despite the low-tech process, their light shows were very fresh and added a lot to the atmosphere of the rock concerts.”