Posted in Buildings, Oakland, People

First Framed House in Oakland

Oakland in the Days When Oaks Were Here and the Peralta’s Owned all the Land

Oakland Tribune Feb 1891

The house was located at N. E. corner east Eighth Street and Fourth Avenue, East Oakland. The address was first 202 East Ninth Street. East Ninth Street was later renamed East Eight Street and house was renumbered from 202 to 404. The final address was 404 East Eight Street.

From the 1884 directory
From the 1912 Directory
Oakland Tribune May 01, 1932
Okland Tribune Nov 13, 1949

In Search of Gold

The lure of the gold drew Moses Chase and his son George to California in 1849. They sailed from Boston on aboard the Capitol on a 176-day voyage. He hoped to make his fortune panning for gold, then return home to marry Mary Ellen Clinton. They had no luck at finding gold and soon they found themselves back on the coast.

Chase then became the first white man to settle in Oakland and he first camped at the foot of what is now Broadway, in 1849.

He then leased land from the Peralta Family just east of what is now Lake Merritt. the land later became part of Township of Clinton which later became a part of Oakland.

The Cabin

It was on this land he built a small cabin of 14 feet wide and 24 feet, from ship timbers, driftwood and rough boards.  He intended to bring his new bride back to California from Boston and live in the cabin. But she died before he arrived back home to marry her. The Township of Clinton was named in her honor.

Showing the original home

In 1856 the front part was added.  This would become the main section of the house. Over the years other alternations and additions expanded the cabin into a two-story building of 17 rooms during its 86-year occupancy by Chase, his son and his grandson. The original section, after standing intact until 1936 when it was cut in half and became the laundry room.

Bancroft Library – Jesse Brown Cooke Scrapbook
http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/tf7k40107n 
BANC PIC 1996.003:Volume 27:089–fALB 
I0051808a.tif 

As you see in the photograph, the house is in first class condition today, October 5, 1928. Photo taken by Jesse B. Cook and Joseph A. Murray. 

Bancroft Library – Jesse Brown Cooke Scrapbook
http://ark.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/tf3f59p0hs 
BANC PIC 1996.003:Volume 27:090–fALB 
I0051809a.tif 

See: While Oakland was Finding its Place on the Map of the World – Oakland Tribune May 01, 1932

First Settler Laid to Rest

The Oldest Inhabitant has Gone to Rest

 Chase spent the later years of his life a near recluse on Bay Farm Island, but he died in the family home February 17, 1891 at the age of 84. He was laid to rest at the Mountain View Cemetery.

A Wedding Takes Place

Another view of the home

In May of 1925 Albert B. Chase was married in the same room he was born in 45 years before. Albert was the son of George Chase (1841-1919) the only child of Moses Chase.

At the time of his wedding Albert was the only surviving member of the Chase family. His older brother had died in 1924 and his sister in 1925.

Oakland 80th Birthday

In honor of Oakland’s 80th Birthday in May of 1932 the Clinton Improvement Association erected a sign on the home noting its historical significance. Oakland Tribune Apr 07, 1932

Razing the Old Home

Oakland Tribune July 02, 1946
Oakland Tribune 1948

In 1946 workman from the Symon Brothers Wrecking Company started razing the “old Chase home”  a small rear portion of which was the original cabin to which Chase built in 1849.

Through three generations the old home continued at the family residence, until in 1936 Albert died. Albert’s widow sold the home to Guido Pacini, a trucking contractor.   Pacini graded the adjoining lot for his trucking business.  The old home was completing renovated and was use as a residence, most recently the home of Picini’s daughter and her husband.

Cook Brothers Equipment Distributors began a 10 year lease of old homestead after it was cleared.   Oakland Tribune July 02, 1946

Oakland Tribune 1948
Showing the 404 East 8th Street in 1951 – Sanborn Map

More on Moses Chase

The End

Posted in Claremont, Estates, People, Rockridge, Tract or Subdivisions

The Pines

The Pines “ was the beautiful home and the surrounding gardens of Mr. & Mrs. Philip E. Bowles. The home was built in 1910 and it stood at what is now No. 2 Bowling Drive.  

Oakland Tribune Apr 04, 1910

Mr. and Mrs P.E. Bowles on a garden path at The Pines

Views of “The Pines”Estate by Gabriel Moulin, ca. 1927 https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf0k4006n4/
Location of The Pines

Land Purchased

In 1909, Philip E. Bowles purchased 51 (58 acres in some publications) acres of land in “Claremont hills” adjoining the Horatio P Livermore Homestead. Bowles was the president of the First National Bank of Oakland and a Regent of the University of California from 1911-22.

The house and grounds had an entrancing view of the bay and all of the surrounding country. 

The view from “The Pines”

The Golden Gate in The Distance c 1927
Photo By Cheney Photo Advertising
Where the Setting Sun Meets the Golden Gate c 1927
Photo By Cheney Photo Advertising

The Bowles Home

 He signed a contract for the erection of a residence to cost  $31,000.  The Architect was L.B. Dutton. He engaged an expert landscaper. who designed the grounds of the estate in accordance with Bowles own plans.

Oakland Tribune March 1909
Photo c 1928 Cheney Photo Advertising
Photo By Cheney Photo Advertising

The home was built in the Italian Villa style with twenty-two rooms and a full basement.  It had six master bedrooms, dressing rooms, five bathrooms, three sleeping porches, a library, a drawing room and a conservatory .

Inside the home

Views of “The Pines”Estate by Gabriel Moulin, ca. 1927
https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf0k4006n4/

A Bedroom

Views of “The Pines”Estate by Gabriel Moulin, ca. 1927 https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf0k4006n4/

Gardens

The home was surrounded a veritable forest filed with quail and dotted with miniature lakes stocked with large rainbow trout and a well stocked bass pond. There was a Japanese Tea garden, with pools containing rare goldfish, golden carp and unusual aquatic plants. There was also a tennis court, a swimming pool, large garage, and a horse stable with a trotting park. 

Mr. Bowles purchased from all of the world, he bought the best. The Rhododendrons were especially lovely.

SF Chronicle July 28, 1913
Views of “The Pines”Estate by Gabriel Moulin, ca. 1927 https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf0k4006n4/

The swimming pool and bathhouse.

Views of “The Pines”Estate by Gabriel Moulin, ca. 1927 https://oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf0k4006n4/

A garden path

Photo By Cheney Photo Advertising
Claremont Pines was housing development built around 1927
Photo By Cheney Photo Advertising

Architecture & Engineer

In 1911 the home was featured in January issue of Architecture & Engineer of California Magazine.  It states the architect was L.B. Dutton.  Architecture & Engineer of California Jan 1911 pg. 204

Jan 1911 – Architecture & Engineer

High Society at The Pines

Many dances and social events were held at The Pines.

Oakland Tribune June 17, 1910

In 1912 the Bowles daughter Amy married Hiram Johnson Jr. the son of Governor Hiram W. Johnson. The wedding was held at The Pines

The extension grounds surrounding the Bowles mansion were transformed into a fairyland

Oakland Tribune May 30, 1912
Oakland Tribune May 30, 1912
Oakland Tribune Sep 20, 1923

Death of P.E. Bowles

On January 20,1926 Philip Bowles died at the age of 67.

Oakland Tribune Jan 21, 1926

Possible Park

The city of Oakland Park board was urged by Mayor Davie to purchase land and home for $700,000for a public playground or park.  That fell through.

Oakland Tribune Oct 15, 1926

Claremont Pines

In  May of 1927, a year after Philip Bowles died,  Mrs. Bowles sold the entire estate to a group of men from southern California and they hired the York Company, Inc. of Oakland to handle to development and the sales.

The York company subdivided the land and called it Claremont Pines.  The name Claremont Pines came from the nearby district called Claremont and the name of the Bowles Estate .

Claremont Pines Placed on the Market

New Owner

In about 1927 or 1928  Andrew Williams of the Andrew Williams Store, local grocery chain purchase the home which was located at No. 2 Bowling Drive.    

Oakland Tribune Feb 26, 1928

After spending two years remodeling and adding new furniture including expensive Persian rugs, Williams put the home up for sale in 1932

Ad for No. 2 Bowling Drive 1931
Oakland Tribune Sept 05, 1932

Bowles Hall – UC Berkeley

In 1928 in memory of her husband Mrs Bowles donated $250,000 to the University of California to be used to build a dormitory for men, appropriately and completely furnished, on or near the University campus, in Berkeley. The dormitory is known as Bowles Hall.

The Wrecking Ball

In 1938 the main house was destroyed by the wrecking and sold off piece by piece. A sad ending to a home that was just 28 years old.

Oakland Tribune Fev 1938

Caretaker House

The was a caretaker house located at front gates of estate. It stood at the portal through the high metal-spiked fence around the estate. The five room bungalow which formally served as the guardian of the estate was used as the tract office from 1928- 1948.

It was at this little cottage where the street car once stopped.

In 1948 the cottage was sold to Charles Ray Jr. of 1028 85th Avenue and he will be placing it on lot next to his.

More on The Pines:

Photographs

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
Posted in Home Building, Montclair, People

On Moraga Avenue

An Enterprising Family and Their New Home in the Montclair District.

Oakland Tribune

Mr. and Mrs. John W Martinsen’s like many others in the area took on the task of building their own home.

Mrs. Martinsen would serve a hot lunch for them from a cabin they had built in the back of the lot.

The home is located on the corner of Moraga Avenue and Estates Drive.

1923
1930
From the 1943 Directory

They lived there until sometime in the mid-1940s.

She dresses in a regulation feminine hiking costume, and is able and effective assistant to her husband

Oakland Tribune

Photos

Intersection with Estates Drive c 1950
Public Works Photo,
Oakland Cultural Heritage Survey, Oakland City Planning Department
intersection with Estates Drive, this east image from 1951
Public Works Photo,
Oakland Cultural Heritage Survey, Oakland City Planning Department
From Google Maps

Location

The Martinsen Home – Google Maps
  • 5901 Moraga Avenue at the corner of Estates Drive
  • John W. Martinsen – builder and owner
  • $10,000
  • 1922

More…

Oakland Tribune Nov 03, 1930

The End

Posted in Early Montclair, Montclair Tracts, People

$20,000 Log Cabin – Fernwood

Fernwood was the beautiful country estate of Col. Jack C. Hays and his wife Susan in 1852.

Residence of Col. John C. Hays, Oakland, Alameda County, California.”
(Published by Thompson & West, Oakland, Cal., 1878)
from Oakland History Room

After Hays’ death in 1883, the estate was sold to William J. Dingee. Dingee built an opulent 19-room Queen-Anne style mansion, and had additional landscaping done with gardens, terraces and waterfalls. He also added such features as a deer park and an elk paddock.

Sadly, the home and countless artworks were destroyed in a fire in 1899. Oakland Tribune Oct 19, 1899

In 1915 Dr. and Mrs. Nelson M. Percy of Chicago, Illinois purchase the former W.J. DIngee home “Fernwood” for an undisclosed amount.

Oakland Tribune Oct 10, 1915
Oakland Tribune 1915
Oakland Tribune 1923
Oakland Tribune 1923
Oakland Tribune 1923
Oakland Tribune 1923
Oakland Tribune 1923
Oakland Tribune Aug 04, 1923
Yellow arrow shows the log cabin, green arrow the pool and blue arrow the tennis courts

More of Fernwood –

Posted in Early Montclair, History, Home Building, People

Residents of Hays Canyon – Now Montclair

Hays Canyon or sometimes called Jack Hayes Canyon was the area in hills beyond Piedmont.  It was named for Col. John “Jack” Coffee Hays (1817-1883) who lived in the area from 1856-1883.   His estate Fernwood was located approx. where Moraga Avenue, (Hays Canyon Rd.)  Hwy 13 and Thornhill Drive (Thorn Road) meet. 

Hays (Hayes) Canyon was in the Piedmont District and both the Brooklyn and Oakland Townships

The main road to the or through the canyon was called the “Hays (Hayes) Canyon Road” which traveled the route of present day Moraga Avenue.  According to one article the beginning of Hays Canyon was at Bonita Avenue in Piedmont.

From Google Maps

Hays Canyon Road is now known as Moraga Avenue

Hays Canyon is now Montclair.

In 1891, the S.F. Call described Hays Canyonthe romantic valley just beyond the ridge that receives its name from the famous Colonel Jack Hays” and “the beautiful home of W. J. Dingee” and the “fine places of Mrs Kohler, Judge E.M Gibson and Mrs. Fields and others.

S F Call – Mar 22, 1891

Colonel John C. Hays – Fernwood

Residence of Col. John C. Hays, Oakland, Alameda County, California.”
(Published by Thompson & West, Oakland, Cal., 1878)
from Oakland History Room

Hays died at home April 22, 1883, at the age of 66.   After his death Fernwood was sold to William J. Dingee.

Wm J. Dingee – Fernwood

Dingee built an opulent 19-room Queen-Anne style mansion, and had additional landscaping done with gardens, terraces and waterfalls. He also added such features as a deer park and an elk paddock.

Athens of the Pacific” 1896

Sadly, the home and countless artworks were destroyed in a fire in 1899. Oakland Tribune Oct 19, 1899

After the Fernwood burned Mrs. Adeline Percy built a modern log cabin on the property. In the 1920s the property was sold and subdivided.

Oakland Tribune March 12, 1916
Yellow arrow Percy Log Cabin, green arrow pool, blue arrow tennis courts.
Oakland Tribune Aug 19, 1923

Judge E. M. Gibson – Cote Brilliant

Judge E.M. Gibson owned the property the just beyond Thornhill School. It was latter owned by E.M Boggs. The house burned down in 1910. Dr. Mark Emerson bought the land in the mid-1920s and built a lovely home and lived there until the late 1950s. St John’s Episcopal Church is now there.

Map showing the locations of the Gibson and Fields land
Oakland Tribune April 23, 1887
Oakland Tribune Jun 1888
Oakland Directory 1889
Oakland Tribune 1888
1891

J. B. Fields

Joseph B. Fields was born in England. Prior to moving to Hays Canyon he was an Oakland Police officer for 12 years.

He owned 25 acres of farming land next the the property of Judge Gibson. His land was in the general location of Aspinwall Road is today.

Oakland Tribune April 16, 1890
SF Chronicle Jan 25,,1891

Mrs. C.A. Kohler – Glen Kohler

Glen Kohler the home of Mrs.. Kohler was located about where Thornhill Drive, Pinehaven Road and Woodhaven Way meet.

Cordelia A. (“CA”) Kohler was the widow of Andrew Kohler (1819-1885) of Kohler & Chase Pianos,  who had a fine home Hays Canyon on Thorn Road (Thornhill Drive) she named it  Glen Kohler.

She died at her home in Hays Canyon on November 27, 1894.  Her funeral was largely attended by the old settlers of the county and was held at her home on November 30, 1894.  She is  buried at Mountain View Cemetery  alongside her husband Andrew and her daughter Louisa (1849-1854)  who died at the  young age of 5.

Oakland Tribune Oct 17 1885

Glen Kohler was designed by architects the Samuel and Joseph C. Newsom (Newsom Brothers) in 1885. The residence was 18 rooms, in what was know as the “free style”. At a cost of about $10,000.

Oakland Tribune Nov 14, 1885
Oakland Tribune Feb 12, 1886
S F Call Nov 29, 1894

I don’t know what happened to Glen Kohler after Mrs. Kohler died. It is possible it was used at a Sanatorium (more on that later).

More on Hays Canyon

The End

Posted in Montclair, Oakland, People

Living Double-Lives in Montclair

A couple of years ago someone in a Facebook group I belong to asked if anyone else remembered a story or rumor that went around Montclair in the mid-50s. It was a story about a guy the ran repair shop on La Salle Ave who was a spy for the American Government or something like that. It took me a while but I found it.

Undercover Agent – Asked to Join

Wilmington Daily Press Apr 23 1953

The tall shapely women said she joined the Communist Party after an FBI agent approached her and said:

Would you like to do this? There will be nothing it for you, but you would be doing your country a great service.

San Francisco Examiner April 1953



Joins Party to Help FBI in Roundup of Subversives

The tall shapely women was Sylvia Hill the wife of Dickson P. Hill of the Montclair District. The Hill’s lived had 3 children and lived on Snake Road. Mr. Hill owned Montclair Radio & TV Service at 6127 La Salle Ave.

From the outside they were your typical 50s family.

Oakland Tribune Dec 1953

Dickson P. Hill said he and his wife were approached by Communists in 1944 and ask the FBI ( I think the FBI was already watching them) what they should do. The FBI told them to try to join the party so they could do the country “a great service.”

They joined the Communist party in 1945 at the request of the FBI, and rose to the positions of membership chairman and education chairman receptively, while serving as undercover agents.

Double Lives

Hill and his wife lived “double lives” as Communists for the FBI for about four years. He said he named more than 50 people in Oakland-Berkeley area he had met personally and identified them as Reds. He also identified 36 organizations as Communist Party clubs during his membership 1945-1949. Dec 03, 1953

Santa Cruz Sentinel Dec 02, 1953
Oakland Tribune April 16 1953

Reds Call Labor School ‘Ours,’ Witness Testifies

Oakland TribuneJan 26 1956
Oakland Tribune Jan 25, 1956

California Labor School of Alameda County

Oakland Tribune Sep 17,1944

The California Labor school presented a Russian film “One Day in Soviet Russia” with English narration.

Oakland Tribune Aug 12 1945

Lectures on the ‘Roots of Fascism’

Oakland Tribune Nov 29, 1945

More Info:

The End