A brush and timber fire that destroyed at least four Oakland hill area homes and menaced at least 50 more burned in the area of Pine Needle Road and Upper Broadway Terraceand came close to the buildings of the new Broadway Low-Level tunnel (Caldicott Tunnel). This was on September 25, 1937.
The photo below was taken at the hight of the blaze but before the fire jumped Tunnel Road.
Scores of families fled their homes in fear; others who sought to save the belongings were ordered out by fireman.
The fire started close to the home of Police inspector Jesse Jackson at 6019 Pinewood Road at around 3 pm September 25, 1937. During the first six hours, the fire had burned across the western edge of the Pinehaven district up Broadway Terrace to a point just below Skyline Blvd. and back down another canyon to the west.
The fire chief estimated the fire burned over 9 square miles of rolling hill county.
Hose lines Burned
Several hundred feet of hose laid across brushy areas to link the pumps to the fire area were destroyed by flames. Lack of water was a problem, they had used up all the water in reservoirs in the immediate area.
C.F. Humphrey – 13025 Broadway Terrace
Mrs. Marguerite Risley – 6493 Farralone Way
Homes Lost or Damaged
15030 Broadway Terrace – Ted Gould – gone
16060 Broadway Terrace – S. Albright – damaged
17014 Broadway Terrace – Ed Pohley – damaged
17044 Broadway Terrace – S. Sund – damaged
17050 Broadway Terrace – S.C. Purser – damaged
6539 Gwin Road – V. Sagues -damaged
6142 Pinewood Road – G. H. Cowles – damaged
6142 Ruthland – W.R. Powers – gone
Fire Started –
The fire started when a “backyard bonfire” got out of control.
There was a fire in November of 1929 in just about the same area. Some of the same homes were damaged then. The W.R. Powers home was saved in 1929 only to burn down in 1937.
The was a fire in 1933 with the loss of one home at 7135 Pinehaven Road.
The fire started in the Redwood Road area and raced through to Sequoia Park (Joaquin Miller Park) and down Dimond Canyon and also spread some into Shepard Canyon.
The fire which began around 7 am on November 13, 1933, swept through the East Oakland Hills, burning a man to death, injuring two others and destroying at least a dozen homes. It was under control by 2 pm.
The municipal zoo in Sequoia Park (now Joaquin Miller Park) was surrounded by a ring of flames as the fire approached the animal cages. The zookeeper’s we preparing to shoot the animals, the fire stopped just 100 yards from the cages.
‘The Abbey’ is Spared
The flames spread through the homestead of the late Joaquin Miller and destroyed the home of Miller’s late mother, which was occupied his widow who was 83. Many of her treasures were lost, but she escaped. The historic Abbey was saved!
Shift in Wind
AT 9:20 am the fire was fast approaching the Sequoia Riding Club at 2923 Mountain Blvd. The stable grooms led the frightened horses through the smoke to safely. A shift in wind saves the stables.
Mrs. Abbie L. Miller widow of Joaquin Miller with her niece
Carmela Ward and a couple of the 60 horses she rescued.
Juanita Miller helping fight the fire
Removing the body of Wm J. La Marr who burned to death
All the was left of one hillside home
School boys who left class to fight the flames along Mountain Blvd
“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.
Mr. and Mrs P.E. Bowles on a garden path at The Pines
In 1909, Philip E. Bowlespurchased 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 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.
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
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.
The swimming pool and bathhouse.
A garden path
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 –
High Society at The Pines
Many dances and social events were held at The Pines.
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
On January 20,1926 Philip Bowles died at the age of 67.
The city of Oakland Park board was urged by Mayor Davie to purchase land and home for $700,000, for a public playground or park. That fell through.
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
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.
After spending two years remodeling and adding new furniture including expensive Persian rugs, Williams put the home up for sale in 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.
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.
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.
Oriental (now we would say Asian) theme in a small home. The five-room home is located at 10 Overlake Courtabove the Montclair Pool(Swim and Racquet Club).
It was designed with both far Eastern ideas and California architecture. Oil finished wood in a natural color, accented with Chinese red in finish and outside trim, grass cloth wall paper and bamboo mouldings, were some of the Eastern ideas.
The living room opens onto a private garden with beautiful oak trees. The house is somewhat like a modern ‘farmhouse’ with an exterior of oiled, heart redwood and an off-white limestone finished roof with wide overhanging eaves.
With many red brick window boxes and large glass areas of windows that are divided into horizontal panes, creating a streamlined effect that is unusual in residential construction. A large circular grille in the garage door was also new and different.
Montclair’s Most Talked-of Home
I don’t know who designed the home but it was built by Robert Darmsted of Pinehaven Road. The Darmsted’s moved to Montclair in about 1920.
Another local Montclarion F.A. Christopherson who lived up on Abbott Drive in theMerriewood area did the brickwork.
Modern with “oriental touch ” . Delightful patio. Price at $6450.00 in 1940.
It is priced in the low 30’s! – 1964
A true hide-away on a secluded cul-de-sac with a gorgeous living room in Japanese style. Price $289,000 in 1992.
In June of 1925 preliminary construction work on a new track, called Melrose Highlands was nearly finished and ready to open.
Melrose Highlands is a part of the ‘old Houston ranch” (have to find out more about Houston) and a portion of the property was used by the National Guard as a rifle range ( see my blog here). It lies between Leona Heights and Sequoia Country Club and the Upper San Leandro filter plant (7700 Greenly Drive) on west side.
The tract opened on July 19, 1925
C.P. Murdock was the developer of the tract and the sales agents for Melrose Highlands.
The Tract Office –
Looking up Earl Street towards Keller Avenue
A group of 12 homes was almost complete. Oakland Tribune – July 26, 1925
Display Home Opens
On opening day a display home was ready to be toured.
FOR THE WORKINGMAN
In Melrose Highlands we are going to give the working man a chance to get the sort of house to which he has long looked for
Obituary for the custodian of Columbia Park School – May 10, 1969
The First Resident – Earl Street
In September of 1925 Anton J. Krajnc moved into his new home with his wife and daughter. This was his first time buying a home.
It’s Paying Me To Live In Melrose Highlands
We have a baby girl just learning to walk and this is going to be a fine place for her to run around and grow up.
A.J. Krajnc – Oct 01, 1925
The W.E. Adams home on Earl Street
The new of William E. Adams on Earl Street. Their home was located at lot No. 232 which is now 7941 Earl Street , but the houses don’t look the same.
The Willard Booth Home – Earl Street
Croup Cured – by the Warm Climate of Melrose Highlands
Mrs. W. Booth – Jan 1926
Moved from San Francisco
Homes and Life in Melrose Highlands
Many New Homes
In January 1927 new store was opened by John G. Koch. The store was located in the 7979 Macarthur (give or take a few numbers). The building was later in way of the construction of the MacArthur Freeway (580).
We have a fast-growing community here, and as fine a place to live as any could want
J. Koch, the first grocer in Melrose Highlands
You can see the store both the upper and lower articles
More Melrose Highlands Homes
The below article shows the progress of Melrose Highlands as of June 1926. The streets with the most homes are Earl Street, Winthrope Street, Keller Avenue and Greenly Drive.
The 1928 Model View Home is situated at the “Top of the World” in reality the top -most peak in Montclair Highlands, overlooking several counties as well as affording a magnificent sweep of the entire bay and part of the Pacific ocean beyond.
Montclair Highlands Commands Ones of The World’s Finest Views, and Only 15 Minutes From Downtown
Montclair Realty – 1928
Combining modern features in fixtures with a marine view the Spanish themed home with certain additions, designed by Hamilton Murdock an Oakland architect.
The “1928 Model” View Home “The Home Electric”. All the latest features of proven merit – the things you have wondered about are used in the “1928 Model” home, including: Oakland Tribune Mar 25, 1928
Quartz-Lite – window glass
Colored plumbing ware
Screen Test for Children
In November of 1928 they held a movie screen test for children in the “1928 Model View “ home. The screen test was under the direction of the Sherman Clay Company.
The “1929 Model View” Home
For a few weeks in 1929 is was renamed .
The “1928 Model View” home is located at 1949 Asilomar Drivein Montclair. It was on of the first homes built in the hills directly behind the business district of Montclair. The area was called Montclair Highlands. The 1928 Model View Home was built just up the hill the lone home to the left of arrow.
The home has 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and last sold in 1974. I don’t have a present day picture.
1928 Model View Home
Hamilton Murdock – architect
Elmo Adams – builder
Howard Gilkey – landscaper
Paul Pause – owner
1949 Asilomar Drive
The Callahan House is the bottom in the photo below.