In 1968, Tanya Dennis was crowned Miss Oakland, becoming the first African-American to wear the crown. She then became one of the early African-American to compete for the title of Miss California.
Miss Dennis was the first of three (in a row) African-American Miss Oakland’s.
In June of 1969, Miss Dennis competed with 36 other girls from throughout the state for Miss California.
Miss Dennis won the talent division with an exotic African ballet.
Miss Dennis was the third runner-up in the Miss California pageant.
Miss Oakland 1969
In 1969, Laomia McCoy was crowned Miss Oakland, becoming the second African – American to wear the crown and compete for Miss California’s title.
Miss McCoy sang a selection from “Porgy and Bess” to win the talent category in preliminary judging and Miss Redlands, Susan Anton took the swimsuit honor.
Susan Anton won the title of Miss California and Miss McCoy was one of the runner-ups.
Miss McCoy was 19 at the time of the competition and student at Merritt College.
Miss Oakland 1970
In 1970 Theresa Smith was crowned Miss Oakland becoming the third African-American to wear the crown and compete for Miss California’s title.
Smith competed alongside 35 contestants for the title of Miss California.
The Miss Congeniality, an award voted by the contestants was awarded to Miss Oakland, Theresa Smith, she was also honored for being the most talented non-finalist dancer in the competition.
Miss Smith was 20 years old at the time of the competition and a student at the University of California.
The officials at the Miss California State pageant refused to allow Miss Smith to perform unless she dropped the “offensive” word, “Black,” from her recitation. It hadn’t been offensive in Oakland.
Black Beauty Queens Denied Rewards
Laomia McCoy and Theresa Smith, Miss Oakland of 1969 and 1970, held a press conference to discuss that they were treated unfairly and racially discriminated against by the Miss Oakland beauty pageant’s sponsors.
“if they had it to do all over again they wouldn’t have competed in the annual pageant.”
Theresa Smith and Laoma McCoy Sept 19, 1970
The Oakland Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees) was the pageant’s sponsor for the previous 24 years before 1970.
“I feel that they (the Jaycees) have been negligent in communicating with me and supporting me and have failed to bestow upon me the full benefits of my title said, Miss Smith.
Miss Smith charged that she was promised a $1000.00 scholarship but only received $100, was invited to appear at hardly any civic events, and was denied pay for personal appearances.
The Jaycees president said her complaints were just a misunderstanding about what the title involves and that she received the same as previous winners.
Theresa ended up getting only a $100 scholarship which was promised before the start of school. The money arrived after final registration at UC, forcing her “to be faced with an additional fee for be late” in registering.
The Jaycees decided to drop their sponsorship of the pageant after 24 years in 1970, they said they were over budget by $1500.
In early 1926 J.B. Peepin announced that his company would be building approximately thirty-one in the High Street Park Tract on Culver Street. Prices averaged $5950 for five rooms, with a down payment of only 10% and 1% of the balance.
Peepin was already well known in Oakland and San Leandro as a builder of Bungalows.
Living rooms have studio ceilings, and the newest wall treatments. Hooded fireplaces, in latest designs. Each house has a breakfast room, with a hand decorated breakfast set, included in the purchased price.”
Oakland Tribune July 26, 1926
Charming hand stenciled kitchens, with linoleums, and every built-in convenience including kitchen cabinets and refrigerators.”
Oakland Tribune July 26, 1926
Gardens are laid out to suit each home, with lawns, shrubs, patio entrances and fish ponds.”
Oakland Tribune July 26, 1926
4100 Culver Street
Casa Linda opened on July 18, 1926. The home was entirely furnished by Montgomery Wards & Company.
“The Home Beautiful”
Casa Linda,as the name implies is an unusually beautiful Spanish home, and embodies in its design and ornamentation new and pleasing innovations by our architectural service. Oakland Tribune July 18, 1926
Orange was the kitchen tile color, the hand-decorated furniture, and wall-paper in the breakfast room. Spanish galleons are the motif of parchment shades.
The exterior of “Casa Linda” was enhanced by the patio entrance with stepping stones and a fish pond.
Casa Palomar or Palomares
4150 Culver Street
Opened in September of 1926 and was furnished by Montgomery Wards and Company.
4157 Culver Street
Casa Novia opened to the public on December 5, 1926 it was furnished by Lachman Brothers of San Francisco.
Display Home Is Especially Designed for Newly-Weds, Builder Says”
Oakland Tribune Dec 5, 1926
An arched doorway opens into the front hall affording a glimpse of a large living room with arched windows. The dining room and breakfast room are separated by columns and the kitchen is decorated with orange tiles.
Sold in 2020
In August of 2020 “Casa Novia” was put on the market for $789,000 and sold for $820,000 in October of 2020.
4132 Culver Street
The furnished home went on display on April 24, 1927.
Large rooms, with plenty of sunshine make this home appeal to the housewife.”
Oakland Tribune Apr 24, 1927
Sold in 2020
The was listed for $889,000 in November of 2020 and sold for $955,000 in December.
4145 Culver Street
Villa Romancia opened to the public in January of 1927.
“Castles in Sunny Spain”
ROMANCE! MYSTERY! That is what you think of when you see Villa Romanica.”
Oakland Tribune Feb 13, 1927
Open House 2021
In January of 1921 Villa Romancia is for sale. The listed price is $699,000. An open house was held on January 3, 2021.
When this are was first built up in mid 1920s it was part of Oak Knoll. Now it is Considered to part of Sequoyah
“Fairway Estates is in the heart of the country club district and consists of a group of estates with building sites of generous size.” Oakland Tribune, August 18. 1929
Fairway Estates and Country Club Fairway Estates and Oak Knoll Unit C are all in the area known as Oak Knoll. Sequoyah Hills on three sides surround Oak Knoll.
The Oak Knoll Land Corporation handled the development.
In Fairway Estates
There are two large bedrooms with a sewing room and bathroom and a large dressing room with many different built-in fixtures and cabinets. On the lower are the maids’ quarters, with separate shower and billiard room. The bathrooms and kitchen are beautifully finished in colored tile.
In Fairway Estates
The Jefferson Home
The Jefferson home is a seven-room, two-story residence of Spanish design. With a large living room and a massive oak stairway leading to a balcony overlooking the Oak Knoll golf course and country club.
“Another reason is the beautiful setting of Fairway Estates – overlooking the Oak Knoll Country club and golf course and views of wooded hills, the harbor, the bay cities, and the Golden Gate.” Oakland Tribune, August 18. 1929
Oak Knoll Country Club District
The Nine room Spanish Style home.
In Fairway Estates
Model Homes in Fairway Estates
Spanish Type Model Home
Spanish in architecture.
The Fairway Estates model home opened in March of 1930. The home was designed by Watson Vernon to fit the lot-on which it stands, to utilize the view possibilities of the property to the best advantage.
Model Country Club Residence
The Spanish home takes greatest advantage of the two way view the wooded hillside on one side and the bay on the other. This six room home has a spacious master bedroom with a sunroom on the upper floor. The dining room window overlooks the golf course.
Beautiful Spanish Model Home
Fairway Estates Home
La Casa Bella
Artistic in the extreme…”
La Casa Bella opened in November of 1930. The home is of Spanish architecture showing the Moorish influence.
A master bedroom that will lull you to sleep after a gallon of coffee…”
Oakland Tribune Nov 16, 1930
A living room almost large enough for a country dance…”
Oakland Tribune Nov 16, 1930
Spanish Home at Oak Knoll
“…with the liquid silver of the moon lying in the pools of mystery the patio will coax you out of doors all hours of the day or night” – Oakland Tribune May 04, 1930
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.
In accordance with Alameda County’s order for residents to ‘shelter in place’ for the well-being of public and staff related to COVID-19 precautionary measures, Oakland Zoo will be closed Tuesday, March 17 and remain closed until the order is lifted.
Henry A. Snow, a naturalist, collector, and African big game hunter, established the Oakland Zoo in downtown Oakland. The first Zoo was located at 19th and Harrison. The area is now known as Snow Park.
In February of 1923, the city of Oakland accepted Snow’s collection of wild animals. The collection was valued from $30,000 to $80,000.
“On behalf of the city of Oakland, we are delighted to accept this valuable collection.”
Oakland Tribune Feb 1923
Two lion cubs and a boa-constrictor formed the nucleus, with various monkeys, bobcats, a cinnamon bear, a mountain lion, and a badger completed the menagerie.
After many complaints were filed with the city council and the park board from the neighborhood residents around the Zoo, who said the collection of animals were a nuisance.
The new location was in Sequoia Mountain Park (now a part of Joaquin Miller Park.)
In 1926 Henry Snow had a stroke and died in July of 1927. Snow’s son Sidney Snow continued in father’s footsteps.
In 1936, Snow established the nonprofit organization East Bay Zoological Society, which was incorporated as the Alameda County Botanical and Zoological Society.
The new Society was seeking to move the animals to the 500-acre Durant Park.
In 1939 the Zoo moved from Joaquin Miller Park to Durant Park.
Durant Park was once the home to R.C. Durant, the President of Durant Motors. Before that, the land from owned by F.C. Talbot. The park is located at the top of 98th Avenue.
Knowland State Arboretum and Park and Zoo
Visitors enter the Oakland Zoo in Knowland Park through the landscape of the Historical Park and Arboretum. The trees throughout this area are the remnants of the Frederick Talbot estate (see Edenvale.)
A row of Canary Island Palm marks the park entry. There are Mexican Fan Palms, Chilean Palms, and exotic Bunya Bunya Trees from Australia in the meadow and picnic grounds. These trees were all planted early part of the 1900s.
Knowland Park consists of approximately 443 acres, of which 350 acres are in the undeveloped Upper Knowland Park. The Zoo (in 1996) had 56 acres within the Historical Park, and 37 acres are in the Zoological Park.
Under a contract with the City of Oakland, the East Bay Zoological Society (EBZS) has full responsibility for the operation, maintenance, and development of the 37-acre Zoo and the 443 acres of Knowland Park.
The first significant addition was the construction enclosure for Miss Effie, the elephant, at the cost of $15,000. The move from the lower park to the upper area began. Video of Miss Effie in 1965 can be seen here: website
There was a 60-foot cylindrical gibbon tower at the entrance to the Zoo. The baby zoo was located in the lower area of the new Zoo.
“The Zoo, when completed, will be the most modern and beautiful one in the country.”
Oakland Tribune 1960
By 1967 the Zoo had relocated entirely to a canyon rising to a mountain overlooking the entire East Bay Area.
The Skyline Daylight a miniature train complete with a “Vista Dome” coach.
The Baby Zoo was completed in 1965 and totally rebuilt in 2005.
When completed, the Zoo would be 100 acres.
Sidney Snow Dies
People Came to See
Zoo Under Fire
In 1983 the Zoo was listed as number six of the “The 10 ‘worst’ zoos.’
The Humane Society of the United States said the conditions at the Zoo were so adverse that the elephants might be better off “serving five to ten years in Leavenworth.”
The Zoo was “a random collection of animals maintained in amateurish fashion and failed to meet even one criterion of an acceptable zoological garden.
They called the Zoo “concrete oasis.”
The report noted that there were no signs of cruelty to the animals, and they were generally healthy.
The Zoo’s response was, “it will be a first-class zoo in a few years.”
Since 1988, Oakland Zoo has been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the national organization that sets the highest standards for animal welfare for zoos and aquariums.
New and Improved Zoo
In his tenure, Dr. Parrott has turned the Zoo entirely around, making it one of the best in the country.
Many new exhibits have been created, including those for the hamadryas baboons and the chimpanzees. A new, spacious elephant exhibit was built in 1987.
The current sun bear exhibit was finished in 1995 and was featured on Animal Planet “Ultimate Zoos.” The white-handed gibbons now live on a lush island in the heart of the Rainforest. The African Savannah, with camels, lions, elephants, meerkats, hyenas and more, was completed in 1998.
The Zoo Today
In the summer of 2005 the 3-acre Valley Children’s Zoo opened with spacious new animal exhibits along with plenty of interactive play-structures for children. The ring-tailed lemurs, century old Aldabra tortoises, the interactive Goat and Sheep Contact Yard along with the river otters can be found in the Children’s Zoo. The popular American alligators, the bats, the pot-bellied pigs, the Old-World rabbits along with the Bug Room, and the Reptile and Amphibian Discovery Room are also in the Children’s Zoo.
June 20, 2018 – Almost three years since breaking ground and more than two decades in the making, Oakland Zoo’s highly anticipated California Trail opens. The expansion more than doubles the Zoo’s current size from 45 acres to 100 acres.
The California Trail also includes the interactive California Conservation Habitarium, Conservation Action Tent, California Wilds! Playground based on California’s diverse eco-zones, and Clorox Overnight Experience ‘safari-style’ campground.
Timeline of the Zoo
1936– Snow established the nonprofit organization East Bay Zoological Society, which was incorporated as the Alameda County Botanical and Zoological Society.
1939-moved from Joaquin Miller Park to Durant Park.
1948 – Became a State Park
1949: State Park property is leased to the City of Oakland for 50 years, and the City of Oakland subleased the zoo property to the East Bay Zoological Society.
1950: -The zoo property changed its name Joseph Knowland State Arboretum and Park.
1964 –City Parks Dept and Society run zoo
1965 – The baby Zoo opened
1975 Knowland State Park was conveyed to the City of Oakland.
1982 –East Bay Zoological Society took over the maintenance, operation, and development of the city-run Zoo. The 10-year lease agreement saved the city almost $315,880 a year. The Society signed a ten-year contract.
1985 – Joel Parrott was appointed the Executive Director. A 20-year renovation plan was put in place,
1994- Renews 10-year lease.
Timeline of Major Developments
Hamadryas Baboon Exhibit 1982
Chimpanzee Exhibit – 1988
African Elephant Exhibit – 1989
African Lion Exhibit – 1992
Siamang Island Exhibit – 1993
Malayan Sun Bear Exhibit – 1996
African Savanna – 1998
Maddie’s Center – 1999
Warthog Exhibit -2000
Mahali Pa Tembo – Elephant Exhibit 2004
Wayne & Gladys Valley Children Zoo Opened 2005
Baboon Cliffs – 2009
Wild Australia – 20110
Veterinary Hospital – 2012
The East Bay Zoological Society has operated and managed the Zoo for the City of Oakland from 1982 until August 2017, when it was renamed the Conservation Society of California to reflect better Zoo’s evolving purpose mission in its commitment to conservation.
Ostrich farming was promoted as a sound investment over a century ago. The farms, well documented on postcards, and were tourist attractions.
Ostriches were brought to the United States in the early 1880s from Africa. In the wild, they lived in warm, dry climates. Southern California seemed to have conditions similar to their natural African environment. By the late 1890s, there were eight locations in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Deigo counties.
The popularity of feathers in women’s fashion made raising the birds an attractive investment.
Farm in Oakland
In the fall of 1907, San Francisco newspapers ran an ad campaign for stock investment in an ostrich farm in Oakland.
In July of 1908, W.H.” Harvey” Bentley of the Bentley Ostrich Farm in San Diego County announced the opening of a branch in the Elmhurst District (sometimes Fruitvale) of Oakland at East 14th and High Street.
It opened on August 30th of 1908. It featured birds named Mr. and Mrs “George Dewey” (Admiral at the battle of Manila Bay) and the other Spanish American War hero from the Cuba campaign, “Fighting Bob” Evans commander of the Great White Fleet.
Forty-six birds compromised the original herd.
In 1910 it was announced that the addition of a factory to their local salesroom and yards. Which meant the hats were made in Oakland and not San Diego. For the years 1907 to 1911, ostrich plumage on women’s hats was at its peak and all the rage.
In January of 1912, the owner of the Bently Ostrich Farm, was killed in an auto accident near the San Diego farm.
His son sold the farm to a group of Oakland investors.
The name was changed to Golden State Ostrich Farm in 1913.
The farm had spacious ground floor offices and salesroom. In the sales there was a magnificent display of plumes in all sizes, prices and colors.
With the coming of World War I, as American and European women entered the workforce, utilitarian clothing replaced the flamboyant fashions of the early 1900s. Broader hats were pinned up with a broach or artificial flower.
Plucking is Painless”
Oakland Tribune May 01, 1952
The bird is shoved into a corner by several men. A hood is placed over the birds head. The plume is cut leaving about an inch of quill in the flesh. The quill would soon fall out.
Golden State Ostrich Farm in Oakland filed for bankruptcy in early 1915.
“Whole Ostrich for the Price of a Feather”
The press announcement said it was now cheaper to buy the entire ostrich than the amount once paid for the feathers to adorn a hat.
The ostrich farms in northern California had all but failed by 1915. The “industry” had a brief heyday, and in the end, defeat by war and a significant fashion change in hats.
The schools were a single-story building with integrated gardens, and pavilion-like classrooms increased children’s access to the outdoors, fresh air, and sunlight. They were mostly built in areas away from city centers, sometimes in rural locations, to provide a space free from pollution and overcrowding.
New School House
Free education and fresh air has interested educators from as far away as Paris, France“
The first open-air school in Oakland was established at the Fruitvale School No. 2 (now Hawthorne School) on Tallent Street (now East 17th). When it opened, there were forty students enrolled, from grades third through seventh. Miss Lulu Beeler was selected as the teacher because she had prior experience working in an open-air school in the East.
The school designed to help cure ill and tubercular children. The focus was on improving physical health through the infusion of fresh air in the classrooms and into the children’s lungs. The school was established as a medical experiment. The school reserved for children judged to be of “weak” disposition.
The Fruitvale school is decidedly a health school”
It was constructed at the rear of the playground, one hundred feet from the existing main building.
The square, the wood-framed building was raised to prevent underfloor dampness.
Each of the sides had a different treatment to reflect the sun. The southern side had tall windows that, when open, didn’t seem to be enclosed. The east side was opened to the elements with only half of a wall. A screen protected them from insects. In case of storms awnings can be pulled down to protect the students.
The school was to be the first in a series of open-air schools installed on the grounds of Oakland’s existing city schools.
There was some objection in opening the school, from the parents of the selected children and the children themselves. The parents did not want their children singled out; the children worried they would be teased as being “sick.” These fears were realized, and the teachers struggled with how to deal with the repeated taunts
The idea of the open-air classroom was incorporated in many of the new schools built in the 1920s. I don’t know how long the Fruitvale Open Air school was open. I will update if I find more information.