Posted in Buildings, East Oakland, History, North Oakland, West Oakland

A Bygone Era

A bit of history of some of the mansions that once graced the streets of Oakland. More to come at a later date.

Burnham Mansion

Burnham Mansion was at the corner of Lakeside Drive and 17th Street. The three-story mansion was built in 1902 by John Russell Burnham.

Oakland Tribune 1955

The Burnham family selected the site on Lake Merritt’s edge because of its similarity to Lake Geneva.

The distinctive features of the house were the first stall shower in the city and an automobile garage. The Burnham’s were the owners of one of the first two automobiles in Oakland.

Oakland Tribune 1955

At the beginning of WWII, the mansion was turned over to the American Red Cross for a hospitality center. Alcoholics Anonymous occupied the home until 1955.

In 1956 construction was to begin on ne 60-unit apartment building. The new structure was expected to cost $2.5 million. Each of the 60 apartment ran completely through the building with views of Lake Merritt. Other features included parking on two levels, the elimination of corridors, extensive elevator system, individual patios, and a roof top garden.

Oakland Tribune 1964

Chabot Mansion

Lake Merritt – Anthony Chabot’s Home – circa 1886 – Photo by Frank B. Rodolph – http://www.oac.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/kt9d5nd40c/?order=1

The old home of Anthony Chabot, founder of Oakland’s modern water system, was torn down in 1952. The city declared the house a fire and health hazard.

Lake Merritt – Anthony Chabot’s Home – circa 1886

The Chabot family hadn’t lived there for some time. Ellen Chabot Bothin still owned it.

The building had been used as a rooming house for years, taking in enough money to pay the taxes.

The home was a modest one considering the owner was a millionaire. The house was two-stories with an attic, its rooms with high ceilings, marble mantels, and velvet embossed walls.

The Chabot’s name is a part of our history, with the following named after them.

  • Chabot Road
  • Chabot Observatory
  • Chabot School
  • Lake Chabot

Goodall Mansion

Edwin Goodall built an elaborate mansion in 1880. The house was located at 1537 Jackson Street.

Goodall home, courtesy Bahá’ís of the United States

The home had paneled walls, and a bed carved out of mahogany, a small theater with dressing rooms.

In 1918, Dr. M.M. Enos purchased the home, operated it as the St. Anthony Hospital until 1923, when it became the Jackson Lake Hospital.

Oakland Tribune 1960

In 1960 the hospital was razed to make room for an apartment building called the Jackson Lake Apartments.

Oakland Tribune Sept 23, 1960

 King Mansion  

Charles H. King built his mansion in about 1884.

King City a rural community in the Salinas Valley was named in 1886 for Oakland’s Charles H. King.

In 1971 the old and neglected King family Mansion still stood at 1029 Sixth Avenue and East 11th Street.  The home at one time had 38 rooms. Not sure exactly when the home was razed.

Mein Mansion

Oakland Tribune 1964

The mansion of Capt. Thomas Mein was located at the corner of Jackson and 15th Street.

Oakland Tribune 1964

The three-story 16-room Victorian was built in 1899, included a winding staircase and marble fireplaces.

Oakland Tribune 1964

In 1964 home was razed to make room for a new 34-unit apartment called the Delphian.

Oakland Tribune 1965

Palm Knoll

Oakland Tribune

Palm Knoll, was the home of Governor (later Senator) George C. Perkins (1839–1923). The 24-room mansion Vernon and Perkins Street, was built in 1890.

Palm Knoll was razed in 1947 to make room for apartments.

Oakland Tribune

Playter Home

Ely Welding Playter, a successful hardware merchant in San Francisco, built a mansion in 1879 at 14th and Castro Streets. The area was the center of Oakland’s elite.

Playter was the 24th Mayor of Oakland. He served two terms, 1885 and 1886, and was a Republican. 

In 1906, the house became a refuge for “working girls” after being purchased by the YWCA. 

It was a three-story structure with long narrow windows.

The house was torn down in 1948 to make room for a service station.

The hospital was Once a Mansion.

The original home of the Solomon Ellsworth Alden family, then the John Edgar McElrath family. It officially opened as the Baby Hospital in 1914.

Please read for more info:

Solomon E. Alden – Oakland Local Wiki

Oakland Tribune May 28, 1967

More Info:

The End

Posted in Black History, North Oakland, Oakland Tracts, West Oakland

The Watts Tract

William Watts was known in Oakland for having a tract of land named for him.

Watts Tract from 1911 Map – black dot shows the location of the Watts’ Home.

The land was 158 acres running from Chestnut to the Bay, and from 28th to 38th Streets. Looks like it now considered Clawson.

Family History

William Watts was born in Chelsea, Mass, in 1808. In 1831 he married Maria Francis Rollins. They had a son William Augustus Watts born in 1833.

Oakland Tribune 1949

In 1850 Watts traveled to California, via the “Horn.” After mining in Tuolumne County, he returned to San Francisco.

On May 04, 1858, William Watts took the title of 158 acres from Francisco Sanjurjo, who had acquired the property from the daughter of Domingo Peralta. Mr. Watts paid $5000 for the land and built a large ranch home at what is now the corner of 34th and Chestnut Streets. He farmed the property until 1876.

Oakland Tribune November 12, 1949
Oakland City Directory 1874

William Watts passed away on January 16, 1878, and the ranch was passed on to his son William.

The family also owned a Tannery that was a close to their ranch.

Subdivided

Oakland Daily Evening Tribune 1874

In 1874, 60 acres were subdivided, and a map of the Watts Tract was drawn up.

Oakland Tribune December 09, 1874

Watts’ Tract Auction Sale

In December of 1876, an auction sale was held at the Watts’ station, on the Berkeley Branch Railroad. Two hundred twenty-eight lots were sold in two and one-half hours.

Oakland Tribune November 12, 1949

Streets Named For

Four streets in the “Watts Tract” are named for the daughters of George Washington Dam. A friend of the family.

  • Eleanor Street
  • Louise Street
  • Hannah Street 
  • Ettie (Henrietta) Street 
Residence of G. W. Dam, Webster Street, Oakland, Alameda County. The Lawrence & Houseworth Albums, 1860-1870 California Views
Society of California Pioneers Photography Collection

Some homes in the Watts Tract

1400 Block of 32nd Street – Google maps
Corner of 34th and Hannah St.
On Helen Street – Google Maps
Corner of 32nd and Ettie Street
3214 Ettie Street – Google maps
Magnolia Street
3200 Block of Hannah Street – Google Maps
3320 and 3322 Magnolia Street – Google Maps
Engine Company No. 22 – 3320 Magnolia
3401 Adeline Street – Google Maps

More Info:

The End