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

Joshua Rose

Oakland’s first black city councilman Joshua Rose. From 1965 to 1977, Rose served on the Oakland City Council representing District 2.

Early Life

Joshua Rose was born in Lexington, Virginia, on September 11, 1906, to Mary Charles, who later married George Rose.

Joshua Rose pictured in 1928 (University of Pittsburgh)

His family relocated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Joshua attended Schenley High School.

After high school, he enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt), where he completed the required credits for a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in 1934. He did post-graduate work in economics, philosophy, and psychology at New York University.

YMCA

During his time at Pitt, he worked at the Hill District Center Avenue YMCA. The Y served as a residence for Black students at Pitt who were not allowed to reside at the university residence halls.

The Montclair Times Jun 18, 1935

After graduation, Rose accepted a position with the YMCA in Montclair, New Jersey.

The Pittsburgh CourierFeb 23, 1935
Montclair Times – Feb 1939

In 1939, Rose moved to California with his wife Virginia and their two children, Richard and Virginia, to help establish a branch of the Oakland YMCA for the local African American community.

Oakland Tribune April 23, 1939

He helped create what was later to be known as the Northwest Branch, which was initially located at 36th and San Pablo, but later moved to 3265 Market St. in the early 1940s.

Rose was responsible for introducing summer day camps that incorporated arts and crafts with sports and outdoor activities, including an annual trip to Yosemite National Park.

Oakland Tribune Mar 28, 1943

Rose worked throughout his career to provide many Oakland youth with constructive activities and summertime employment through the YMCA’s programs.  In 1967 Rose retired as Associate General Secretary of the Metropolitan Branch of the YMCA.

Board of Playground Directors

SF Examiner Jul 18, 1947

In 1947, Rose was selected to be the first African American member of the Board of Playground Directors, a group that would eventually become the Oakland Recreation Commission.

Oakland Tribune June 1, 1959

Rose was a board member for 17 years, which included his serving as chairman from 1961 to 1962.

Oakland Tribune May 9, 1957

Oakland City Councilman

On August 27, 1964, he was asked by Mayor John Houlihan if he would complete the unexpired term of Robert V. McKeen on the Oakland City Council. Rose agreed and became the first African American to sit on the Council.

Oakland Tribune Aug 30, 1964

He represented the 2nd District. Rose, a Republican, was re-elected three times in 1965, 1969, and 1973.

“I have a deep interest in Oakland’s future. To secure that future, dedication and sacrifice based on sound academic training and reliable experience are necessary.”

Joshua A. Rose April 1965

He was a respected member of the Council, particularly for his work in easing racial tensions in the city in the late 1960s when the Black Panther Party, founded in Oakland in 1966, challenged the local political establishment.

After sustaining severe injuries in an automobile accident, Rose officially retired from the Council on June 30, 1977.

Death

“Josh was a symbol for us” “A symbol of success.”

Mayor Lionel Wilson Sept 1987

Joshua Rose passed on April 13, 1987, from Parkinson’s disease. He was 81.

SF Examiner April 16, 198

More Info:

The End

Posted in Black History, Business, Homes, People, West Oakland

Fanny Wall Children’s Home

Fannie Wall Children’s Home and Day Nursery, an orphanage and daycare center, established in 1918 by African-American clubwomen in West Oakland. Sometimes it is called the Fanny Wall Home.

Charity is the Golden Chain that reaches from heaven to earth.”

from the letterhead

The Beginning

Care for the Orphans

Shelters the Half Orphans

Keeps the Children of Day Workers.”

Oakland Tribune April 1920

In 1914 the Northern Federation of California Colored Women’s Clubs President Fanny Wall and Financial Secretary Hettie Tilghman began working on a children’s home and day nursery to support black working mothers and care for orphaned black children. After years of planning and fundraising, the home opened in 1918 on Peralta Street in West Oakland.

Initially, the home was called the“Northern Federation Home and Day Nursery.” It was subsequently renamed to honor Fannie Wall who was the first woman to run the charity on a daily basis.

The Fannie Wall Children’s Home and Day Nursery was open to children of all races, ethnicities, and religions, it was the first facility in Northern California to provide various services including housing, boarding and daycare for black orphans.

It was located at 1215 Peralta Street in West Oakland from 1918-1928.

Fannie Wall Children’s Home and Day Nursery 1215 Peralta Street – the first site – Courtesy The African American Museum and Library Oakland
Oakland Tribune April 27, 1920

Who was Fannie Wall?

Fannie Wall ( 1860-1944) came to Oakland with her family in the early 1900s.  She was born in Gallatin Tennessee in 1860.  She was married to Archey(Archy) H. Wall (18??-1931), a staff sergeant in the US Army.  They had two daughters, Lillian (Williams) and Florence (Murray) and one son Clifton. Archey was transferred to the Presidio in San Francisco and they ultimately ended up in Oakland.

Wall was an early community activist who participated several organizations that promoted African American economic empowerment.  

Fanny Wall undated- Source: Beasley The Negro Trail Blazers

She served several terms as the president of the California Federation of Colored Women’s Club’s.

She co-founded the Art and Industrial Club of Oakland in 1906.  Under her presidency the club joined the Child Welfare League. Wall also help establish the “Colored Y” of Oakland.

In 1936 Archie Williams her grandson (Lillian)won a gold medal in the 400-meter run in Berlin.

Oakland Tribune Aug 8, 1936

Fannie Wall died on April 14, 1944 in her home on Telegraph Avenue.  She is buried in the same plot as her husband in the San Francisco National Cemetery.

Oakland Tribune Apr 20, 1944

Linden Street Site

In 1928, having outgrown its original location they moved to a new one on Linden Street.

Fannie Wall Children’s Home, 815 Linden – 2nd site -Courtesy The African American Museum and Library Oakland

The handsome house at 815 Linden Street was purchased $5000. The upper middle-class house was designed by Charle Man in the 1880s.  It was one of five buildings built by Frances Reichling a surveyor, who subdivided his property at the corner of Linden Street and Eighth Street.  The largest of the buildings became the family home and the others were rentals.

Linden Street 1948 -African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)

The home could accommodate up to 20 resident children and 8-15 children for day care services and was operated by a professional staff of over ten employees that included social workers and a volunteer psychiatrist. 

The house was considered step up from the one on Peralta Street and was across the street from the “Colored Y.”

Women and children seated around the piano at the Fannie Wall Children’s Home and Day Nursery- undated -African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)

New Look

The Linden Street site was given a face-lift in 1953. The “new look,” a two room addition to be used as the administrative offices, releasing the old offices and reception room for nursery classes and a future library.  The provided room for 47 children.  

In 1962 the Oakland Redevelopment Agency purchased the property at 815 Linden St. in order to demolish the building for the Acorn Project.

Management

Fannie Wall is Calling”

From the annual report

The Northern Federation of Colored Women Clubs operated the Fannie Wall Home until 1941. The home was then incorporated as an independent organization. At that time it was the only home in California that primarily cared for African-American children.

The home was admitted as an agency of the Community Chest-United crusade in 1923

Fannie Wall was elected as the first president and served more than 20 years as the head of the 21 board of directors. She was succeeded by Mrs. Lydia Smith Ward who in turn was followed by Mrs. Chlora Hayes Sledge in the 1940s.

The home was managed by a Board of Directors, which largely consisted of members of the Northern Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, a community advisory committee, and an executive director who oversaw the home’s day-to-day operations.

The Board of Directors of the Fanny Wall Home – Chlora Hays Sledge, President, center-left.Courtesy The African American Museum and Library Oakland

The home was the first Community Chest Children’s Agency in the East Bay to employ a trained social worker.

Girls with fans at the Fannie Wall Home, in the 1940s.Courtesy The African American Museum and Library Oakland

Fundraising

 The home received funding from a variety of sources including rent from an apartment in Berkeley donated by Josephine Sutton, Community Chest, the Dreiser Trust, and through fundraising events coordinated by the home.

Ticket to chicken dinner for Fannie Wall Home Benefit-1944 -African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
Fannie Wall Children’s Home and Day Nursery, Inc. charity ball program – 1946 – African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)- Identifier
MS162_B1_F6_0
01
Oakland Tribune 1958

The third charity ball was held on January 19, 1948 at the Oakland Auditorium.

In 1959 a fashion show was held at Slim Jenkins to raise money for the building fund.  Models showed the latest styles.

A Haven For Children

Rodeo artists Schwartz and Grodin entertain children with finger paints at the Fannie Wall Children’s Home and Day Nursery – circa 1947 -African American Museum & Library at Oakland Photograph Collection
Oakland Tribune 1949

In 1949  the Fannie Wall home had 30 children who received day care while parents worked.  Ranging in age from 3 to 14 years.During the summer months the children took swimming lessons at the de Fremery Park pool: the enjoyed story hours at the West Oakland Branch Library, and they had special excursions to other city parks and playgrounds.

Birthday Party 1946

Monthly parties were held to honor the children whose birthday occurred during the month. They would dress up for special dinner or an afternoon party.

Oakland Tribune Aug 8, 1948
Integrated Playground at the Fanny Wall Home, the 1950s. Courtesy The African American Museum and Library Oakland

The Final Location

In 1964 they purchased a house at 647 55th Street for $19,000. They initially struggled to obtain a license from the Social Welfare Department, and the home was not re-opened until 1967 as part of a placement program for the Alameda County Welfare Department.

Fannie Wall Children’s Home 55th Street – 3rd site Courtesy The African American Museum and Library Oakland

The home was forced to close again in 1970 for remodeling and reopened in 1978 as a child daycare facility and Head Start Center. It is now called Fannie Wall Head Start.

Group photograph of attendees at Fannie Wall Children’s Home and Day Nursery mortgage burning ceremony (first row, left-right): Annie Mae Smith, Albertine Radford, Silvia Parker, Mildred McNeal, Marge Gibson (second row, left-right): Bessie Watson, Euna Tucker, N. Adams, Lela Posey (third row, left-right): Eugene P. Lasartemay, Roy Blackburn, Kermit Scott, Harold Adams – 1981 -African American Museum & Library at Oakland Photograph Collection
Fannie Wall Pre-K Program – 647 55th Street Oakland CA

More Info:

The End

Posted in Black History, People, West Oakland

Delilah Beasley

Delilah Beasley – undated

Delilah Beasley was a columnist for the Oakland Tribune and was the first African American woman to be published regularly in a major U.S. newspaper. 

She is most known for her book “The Negro Trail-Blazers of California,” published in 1919 and reprinted in 1968. 

Early Life

Delilah Leontium Beasley was born Cincinnati, Ohio, just after the Civil War on September 9, 1871 (some report 1867) to Daniel Beasley, an engineer, and Margaret Harris.

Beasley began her newspaper career in 1887, writing for the black newspaper, the Cleveland Gazette on church and social activities.

After her parents’ death, she went to Chicago and took a position to learn massage: she desired to become a nurse, which she became a few years later.

She traveled to California to nurse a former patient and stayed.

After moving to Oakland in 1910 at the age of 39, she wrote for the Oakland Sunshine and the Western Outlook.

In 1910 3,055 African Americans were living in Oakland.

Trail-Blazers

To help her race; to open doors into the arts and sciences for the negro boys and girls, has been the impelling force for Delilah Beasley”

Los Angeles Times Jul 13, 1919

Oakland Tribune April 16, 1915

Beasley spent the first nine years in Oakland researching Black Americans’ history in the west at the University of California at Berkeley. She also would give presentations at local churches.

An early cover of the book

In 1919 she self-published a book called The Negro Trail Blazers of California. The book chronicled African American “firsts” and notable achievements in early California. The book includes diaries, biographical sketches, poetry, photographs, old papers, conversations with old pioneers, and a comprehensive history of early legislation and court cases.

California Eagle Dec 7, 1918
California Eagle March 15, 1919

Activities Among Negroes

Her book paved the way for Beasley to become the first African American women in California to write regularly for a major metropolitan newspaper. She worked for the Oakland Tribune from 1923 to 1934 and wrote a weekly column entitled “Activities Among Negroes.”  The column carried civic and religious news of the black community

Civic Organizations

Beasley was determined to advance the rights of African Americans and women; she joined many civic clubs. These included the NAACP, the Alameda County League of Women Voters, the National Association of Colored Women, the Oakland Council of Church Women, and the Linden Center Young Women’s Christian Association.

She was an honorary member of the League of Nations Association of Northern California.

Oakland Tribune March 3, 1928

Delilah died at the age of 62 on August 18, 1934.  Beasley is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery.

Oakland Tribune Aug 19, 1934

She live for many years at 705- 34th Street.

Exterior of Delilah Beasley’s house, 705 34th Oakland, CaliforniaAfrican American Museum & Library at Oakland 

More Info:

The End

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 Buildings, Real Estate, West Oakland

The Acorn Projects

The Acorn or Acorn Projects are a series of housing projects in the Acorn Redevelopment Project Area of West Oakland.

They were original three housing units, Acorn 1, Acorn 2, and Acorn 3. 

Acorn Housing Project model, April 7, 1966. – The Acorn Housing Project promised sleek, modern architecture — concrete-block units with sharp angles and crisp white exteriors

The project started in 1962. The first housing unit contained 479 units and cost $9 million; it was completed in 1969. A second 98-unit called Acorn II was completed in 1971 at the cost of $3.7 million.

Oakland Tribune 1959

Slum Clearance Project

Oakland’s first slum clearance undertaking will be called The Acorn Project.”

Oakland Tribune March 9, 1959

The Oakland Redevelopment Agency selected the name Acorn for the project area (about 45 Blocks) flanking the Nimitz Freeway between Union and Brush Streets.

Agency member Carl O. Olsen said the “Acorn is symbolical for the future and growth.”

Oakland Tribune February 24, 1965

Acorn’s Amazing Progress

It was reported that Project Acorn was shaping up as one of the most successful blight clearance projects in the nations’ history in 1964.

In 20 months, they had accomplished the following:

  • Purchased 90% of parcels
  • Relocated 83% of families
  • Demolished 75% of structures
  • Sold four lots for new plants
Oakland Tribune

Property Owners Sue

Thirteen West Oakland property owners sued to block the Acorn Project. They sued the Federal Redevelopment Agency and the City of Oakland, claiming that the Acorn Project “would deprive Negroes of their properties.”

They said the slum elimination project would, in effect, deprive them of homeownership because they have limited access to other residential areas. They told the court they have no objection to urban improvement, but object to being evicted from their homes without a place to go,

The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled against them in May of 1963.

Acorn: Acres of Vacancy

In the land cleared for the project, there were rats, ants, and sparrows lived. But no people.

Oakland Tribune 1967

The Oakland Redevelopment Agency had spent $ 13 million by 1967. But still no housing.

It was described as a slum clearance project, and it was a success. Some 4,300 people lost their homes as wrecking crews smashed aging buildings.  

Acorn SIte 1966  By the time this picture was taken, 90 percent of the Acorn project-area had been “cleared,” and 86 percent of residents had relocated — many to the neighborhood of East Oakland and the northern East Bay city of Richmond.*

It took from April 1962 to May 1965 to reduce all but 610 old structures to splinters. In their place was acre upon acre of empty fields in the area between 10th and First and Brush and Union Streets.

Thirty-two were set aside for industrial redevelopment, thirty-four acres for new, moderate-priced housing.

Since 1962 when the Acorns were approved, 12,000 rental units were built in other parts of Oakland.

Acorn Project Aims to Attract Whites

The Acorns, a middle-income development featuring sophisticated townhouses and apartments, was one of the nations’ first attempts at “reverse integration.”

To attract whites to the project, the Building Trades Council tried to put the finest housing it can afford into the project and charge the lowest rents possible.

Rents ranged from studios at $67 up to four-bedroom two-story townhouses at $145. (The upper limit on income was $11,225)

Remember Acorn? It’s Dedicated

After sitting empty for ten years, the Acorn Project was finally dedicated in 1967.

Groundbreaking ceremony for Acorn construction, November 10, 1967John B. Williams (kneeling) holds a sign for the Acorn Urban Renewal Project as it is hammered into the ground by Robert C. Weaver, Secretary of the newly founded Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

Construction did not begin in Acorn until five years after demolition was completed, leaving a giant barren area in the middle of West Oakland, about 50 blocks, including parts of the historic heart of black Oakland, 7th Street. By the mid 60s, the demolition policies of the Oakland Redevelopment Agency (ORA) would create deep scars in the black neighborhoods close to downtown.

Ready for the Public

The first units of Oakland’s $8 million modern apartment complex opened for inspection in September 1968.

Source: San Francisco Examiner 9/16/68 “Oakland’s Redevelopment Project Ready for Public” (available at Oakland History Room)
  • Studio – $67.00 a month
  • 4-bedrooms – $145.00 a month

By December of 1968, 106 families lived in the Acorns.

SF Examiner Sept 1968

Award for Acorn

 Architects Edmund Burger and Patricia Coplans won the 1970 Holiday Award for the design of the Acorn Projects.

The Acorns Today

SF Examiner May 1998

The property underwent extensive redevelopment in the 1990s due to four years of collaboration among HUD, The City of Oakland, BRIDGE, the Acorn Residents Council, and the West Oakland community.

SF Examiner May 1998

Like many other projects, Acorn was known as a dangerous place for residents and nearby neighbors. The new Acorn will have several safety features. Density was reduced by half from the 700 units that made up the old project, and a series of courtyards with locked gates to limit access.

  • Acorn 1 was demolished, and a small community of two-story single-family houses between Filbert and Market Streets was built in its place.
  • Acorn 2 and Acorn 3 were renamed “Town Center Apartments at Acorn” and “Courtyard Apartments. 

Acorn Town Center and Courtyards consist of 293 affordable studio, one-, two-, three-, and four-bedroom apartments.

  • high-tech security system
  • gated property
  • recreational center
  • community building
  • tot lots
  • three basketball courts
  • swimming pool

Acorn Town Center and Courtyards – Bridge Housing

More Info:

The Acorn NeighborhoodOakland Local Wiki

Imagining a Past Future – Photographs from the Oakland Redevelopment Agency – Places Journal

Affordable Housing Today – Architecture California 2001

Acorn Oakland RenaissanceFacebook Page

Portraits of Progress and PainEastbay Yesterday

The Planning History of Oaklandwebsite

Tot Lot

The End

Posted in Black History, West Oakland

The Black Y’s of Oakland

The Linden Branch Y.W.C.A. and the Filbert Street Y.M.C.A. developed programs during the 1930s that helped the Black community survive the Depression years. They emerged at a time when the national Y’s both encouraged separate branches for Black members.

Oakland’s Black Y.W.C.A

In 1920 a small group of local black women, Mrs. Willie HenryMelba Stafford, and Hettie B. Tilghman, organized the Linden Center Y.W.C.A. with the central organization’s support and approval.

Linden branch of the YWCA in Oakland, California. circa 1940 Clubhouses–California-Oakland. Young Women’s Christian Associations–California–Oakland. Neighborhoods–California–Oakland–West Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.

Linden Center got its name from its location at 828 Linden Street in West Oakland. It achieved the “branch” status in 1924 due to increase membership. It was then known as the Linden Branch Y.W.C.A or the Linden Y.

Young Women’s Christian Association Collection – African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)

The Linden Y functioned as a job placement center and welfare agency during the Depression years.

Linden Street Y.W.C.A. interest groups, clubs, classes
 Young Women’s Christian Association of Oakland.
African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)

The branch operated as a community center, offering members religious training, recreational activities, counseling, vocational training, and music and art programs.

 Linden Street Y.W.C.A. interest groups, clubs, classes
 Young Women’s Christian Association of Oakland.
African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
MS110_B01_F03_019

 Y.W.C.A. yearbook
Young Women’s Christian Association of the U.S.A.–History.
African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)

By 1938 the Linden St. Y had a membership of over 750.

For almost 25 years, the Linden Branch existed as a segregated facility. Following a national policy change, the board of the Oakland Y.W.C.A. integrated the Linden Street Y.

“to make its program available to all women and girls irrespective of race, creed or color”

The name was changed to West Oakland Center YWCA.


Group of men and women sitting on wall in front of Linden Branch Y.W.C.A – circa 1930s African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)
Joseph, E. F. (Emmanuel Francis), 1900-1979
Group Photo 1940
African American Museum and Library at Oakland, MS189_0809

Linden Street was described as ” a two-story framed building with four club rooms, a reception hall, office for the business and industrial sections, and two rooms rented to accommodate working girls.”

The facility and the entire surrounding neighborhood were razed in the early 1960s to make room for the Acorn Projects.

Linden Street Y.W.C.A. 828 Linden Street circa 1940
 Young Women’s Christian Association of Oakland.
African American Museum & Library at Oakland (Oakland, Calif.)

Oakland’s Black Y.M.C.A. 

Organized by Rev. L.A. Brown of the  First A.M.E. Church, opened on June 6, 1926. It was initially located at 3431 Market Street in West Oakland, and William E. Watkins, an attorney, was the first director. In 1927 the organization had a membership of 160, 134 seniors, and 26 boys.

3431 Market St -Today Google Maps

In 1929 they moved to 804 Filbert Street and became known as the Filbert Street Branch, Y.M.C.A. In 1935 they moved to 805 Linden Street and became the Eight and Linden Branch, Y.M.C.A.

The Filbert Street Y promoted a competitive sports program. Its annual track meet annual athletic contest attracted competitors from all over the Bay Area.

Oakland Tribune Mar 19, 1934

They sponsored a variety of classes and activities. Members could attend classes in Bible and woodworking. A boys’ orchestra, organized by C. E. Brown, preformed for the public. Some of the boys were invited to summer camp.

In 1936 Mr. Watkins resigned as the director and was replaced by R.T. Smith. The directory lists the BLACK YMCA at 836-36th Street. After the move to 36th Street it became known as the North Oakland Branch. It probably integrated about the same time as the Linden Branch.

Exterior of Y.M.C.A. building African Americans–California–Oakland–History–Pictorial works. source: Joseph (E. F.) Photograph Collection circa 1930s : MS126_2499
836 -36th Street today – Google Maps

804 Linden Street burned in 1960 and then was razed for the Acorn Projects.

More Info:

Oakland Heritage Alliance Newsletter – The Black Y’s of Oakland – Winter 1987-88

Oakland Heritage Alliance News Winter 2013 – Remembering the Linden Street Y

Linden Street Y.W.C.A. – Oakland Local WIki 

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

Posted in Black History, People, Schools, West Oakland

Oakland: The Mellow City

I love Oakland with much of my heart. I look forward to Oakland’s change, growth, virtue, and beauty in the years of the future, glorifying past and forgone years.

My dream is that people who read this book of our city will also strive for a more wonderful Oakland.

By: Jacqueline Taylor

Oakland Tribune 1969

Oakland, The Mellow City Week

By official proclamation of Mayor John Reading Sunday, October 12, 1969, was the first day of:

“Oakland, The Mellow City Week.”

Oakland Tribune Oct 1969

The observation honored more than 200 eighth-grade authors and artists who produced a book about their home city.

“The Mellow City” was researched and illustrated in the spring of 1968 under the guidance of teachers from Hoover Junior High.

Oakland Tribune Oct 1969

Students were asked to base their work on the response to one question:  

“If you were to develop a book to help other students learn about Oakland, what would you include”?

Oakland Tribune

After six weeks of intensive work, they had 76 pages of essays, poems, and more than 50 original watercolors and pen and ink illustrations.

Oakland Tribune Feb 1969

Financing

Money for the project which required field trips, camera equipment, and teacher time was available through Elementary Secondary Education Act funding.

The Oakland Junior League voted to underwrite the expense of printing 2,500 copies.

Sample Page

The students also worked with printers in selecting the paper, typeface and cover design, including

The Cover
  • Jacqueline Taylor
  • Wanda White
  • Valerie Hickman
  • Marvin Miles
  • LaTanya Johnson
  • Glenda Walker
  • Coynell Smith
Oakland Tribune Oct 1969
Sample Page

More Info:

The book is still available (July 2020) to purchase at:

  • Oakland: The Mellow City – Amazon
  • Oakland: The Mellow City – ebay
  • Oakland: The Mellow City – biblio
  • Oakland: The Mellow City – abebooks

The End

Posted in Buildings, People, Then and Now, Uncategorized, West Oakland

Walsh’s Flatiron

Walsh & O’Brien’s Store, junction 18th, Peralta & Center Sts., Oakland, CA, ca. 1898″
OMCA – Gift of Mrs. Brent Howard
H26.1429
Oakland Tribune Dec 21, 1901

Oakland’s oldest flatiron building resides at the juncture of Peralta, Center, and 17th Streets in West Oakland. Built in 1879 for William Walsh, the two-story redwood structure initially housed the Center Junction Exchange Saloon with apartments above.

Oakland Tribune Feb 11, 1884

A native of Ireland, Mr. Walsh purchased the Peralta Street lot in 1877. Peralta Street was one of the main avenues to Berkeley. 

Oakland Tribune Dec 21, 1901

By 1877 the saloon had evolved into the Junction Cash Grocery and Liquor Store.  In 1894 Mr. Walsh partnered with Austin O’Brien.  The  firm of Walsh & O’Brien was described as:

importers selling direct to families, groceries, wines, cigars, home furnishing goods, hay, feed, and grain.” 

Mr. Walsh bought out O’Brien’s share of the company in 1901 and changed the name to Walsh & Co.

Oakland Tribune Apr 18, 1901
Plate 100

From Oakland 1902 Vol 1, California
Published by Sanborn Map Company in 1902

The Flatiron Today

1615 CENTER ST OAKLAND 94607

Google Maps – 1615 Center
Google Maps – 1615 Center
Google Maps

More Info:

Oakland Heritage Alliance News, Winter 1996-97, by William W. Sturm

Posted in Schools, Then and Now, West Oakland

Then & Now – McClymonds High School

In 1951 the students referred to their alma mater as:

the school that couldn’t stay still.”

Oakland Tribune 1951

In the first 36 years, the school changed location five times and gone by eight different names.

A Bit of History

In January 1915, McClymonds High School started in a small building formerly occupied by Oakland Technical High School at 12th and Market with sixty students. Originally called the Vocational High School and was the first public school in California to offer vocational training.

J.W. McClymonds directly inspired the organization of the school, superintendent of the Oakland Schools between 1889-1913 (Oakland Tribune Mar 09, 1924), and the name was changed to McClymonds Vocational School.

In 1924 the school was moved to a new building at 26th and Myrtle, and its name was changed to J.W. McClymonds High School.  

It became just plain McClymonds High in 1927. The building was condemned in 1933, and classes were moved to Durant School.  

In 1936 McClymonds High School and Lowell Junior High School were merged to form a new high school on Lowell Site at 14th and Myrtle Streets. McClymonds High thereby became a four-year high school.

 In 1938 the name changed from J.W. McClymonds to Lowell-McClymonds, then in July of the year to McClymonds-Lowell High School

Finally, in September 1938, they moved back to the old site at 26th and Myrtle Streets after the buildings were reconstructed at the cost of $330,000. The alumni won out, and once again it was McClymonds High School as it is today.

Dedication

The new high school occupying the entire block at 26th and Myrtle Streets, erected at the cost of $660,000 was dedicated in March of 1924.

The school was named in honor of J.W McClymondswho had died two years earlier. The ceremony was held on Mar 09, 1924.

Oakland Tribune 1924

McClymonds High School was completed in 1924 as a part of the school building program of 1919.   The new building contained 35 classrooms, 11 shops, administrative offices, storerooms, science, millinery, and art rooms and an auditorium with a seating capacity of 1000. There were shops for forge work, auto repair, machine work, pattern making, woodworking, electrical engineering, and printing. The machinery in the shops costs several thousands of dollars.

Mcclymonds High School – undated
Oakland History Room

Millinery Courses 

The milliner’s art “so dear to the hearts of the fair sex” was introduced as a course for girls in schools of Oakland. Mcclymonds had a shop with machinery for fabricating and molding the millinery.

  

“The girls are virtually flocking to the new course, which teaches the latest in chic, feminine headgear.”

Oakland Tribune

Out With The Old

Oakland Tribune 1951
Oakland Tribune 1951
Oakland Tribune 1951

New School

Oakland Tribune 1951

In 1954 a new three-story reinforced concrete structure was dedicated.  

The structure designed for 1200 students and contains 42 classrooms, an auditorium, cafeteria, and library. Corlett and Anderson of Oakland were the architects.

The auditorium is in the two-story south wing and classes in the three-story building.

A class of 75 students was the first to graduate from the new McClymonds High in 1954.

New Gym

The Old Gymnasium – 1928

In 1953 the old gym was condemned as an earthquake hazard and wasn’t replaced until 1957.

The new Gymnasium 1956

The new gym was the first Oakland school building to be built with tilt-up wall construction in which concrete wall sections are poured flat on the ground then raised into place.

Folding bleachers will seat 875 spectators. A folding partition will divide the main gymnasium into boys and girls for physical education classes.

The building also included an exercise room, shower and locker rooms, first-aid rooms, instructor’s office, and storage areas. Ira Beals designed it at the cost of $427,000.

McClymonds Field Dedicated – 1960

Oakland Tribune 1963

The new $625,095 track and field facilities was touted as one of the finest in the East Bay when the it was dedication ceremony was held.

The new tennis courts adjacent to the gym were dedicated to the memory of Earl M. Swisher, a former teacher, and tennis coach.

The Field Today – google maps

In 1964 three McCLymonds High School seniors drowned in the icy waters of Strawberry Lake in Tuolumne County.  

Oakland Tribune 1964

The victims were:

  • Gloria Curry – Age 17
  • Carolyn Simril – Age 17
  • Melvin Lee Moore – Age 16

The trip was for the about 150 students called “honor citizens” because of outstanding community and school service.

Pinecrest Lake 1964

Most of the students were on the ski slopes, and sled runs at Dodge Ridge. Between 15 and 20 of them were on the frozen lake when the ice gave away.

The students said there were no signs on the lake warning of thin or rotten ice.

A heroic rescue by three boys and two men saved the lives of at least ten students when the ice broke about 150 yards from the shore.

Carolyn Simril died while trying to pull somebody out and fell in herself.

Feb 1965

A large crowd waited in front of Mcclymonds High for the three buses to return. They knew that three students had drowned, but they didn’t know who they were.

More Info:

Oakland Tribune 1930
Oakland Tribune 1930
Oakland Tribune 1960
Photo by Joanne Leonard
circa 1964
Gift of the artist in honor of Therese Thau Heyman
2003.139.35

McClymonds Today

McClymonds High School is a highly valued icon of the West Oakland community as it is the only full-sized OUSD High School in the region. It is located near the intersection of Market Street & San Pablo Avenue in the Clawson neighborhood, which contains a mix of residential and commercial development with a handful of industrial yards

The school is located at 2607 Myrtle Street Oakland, CA 94607

More Info:

The End