Posted in Early Montclair, Estates, Homes

A Hermit’s Companion

Updated July 25, 2020

Oakland Tribune

“One month before his death, Charles Kruse was leaving for the county hospital, which he never expected to return.” Kruse gave G.W. Brusseau a package with a few in intimate belongings, the key to his house, and the note.

Oakland, March 15 (?)

“This is my gift of Deed all is in my possession to Mr. G.W. Brusseau after my daet”

“Chas. Kruse”

Only Man He Trusted

Kruse only had one friend whom he trusted, according to Brusseau’s attorney. Kruse helped care for the hermit for 13 years, he never had the money to pay Brusseau for his labor but intended to see that he ultimately receive the his property.

Brusseau saved the 10-acre plot from being sold for taxes and the paid off the mortgage. It was claimed.

In March of 1923, Kruse applied for admission to the county infirmary on the grounds he was penniless. He had cancer.

Oakland Tribune 1923


Following Kruse’s death at the county hospital, preparations were being made to bury him in the potter’s field. Brusseau stepped in and said he would pay for his funeral.

Mountain View Cemetery – plot 48 Photo by REHM – Find A Grave

Brusseau purchase plot in Mountain View cemetery with bordered on his property.

He could see the grave from his porch.

Oakland Tribune 1923

Fight for Estate

The case was brought to the attention of Judge George Samuels when Brusseau filed a petition for probate of the paper as the last will Kruse.

 Because of the omission of the completed date, Judge Samuels refused probate and granted administration letters to Albert E. Hill, a Public Administrator.

Thrown Out As A Will Upheld As Deed

In June 1923, a petition was submitted to the Almeda superior to record the scrap of paper as a gift deed. In this claim, Judge James G. Quinn decided that Kruse never intended the piece of paper as a will but intended to constitute an immediate conveyance of land as a deed.

In the meantime, Brusseau had lost a third suit filed against the estate for reimbursement for his unpaid labor.

The Recorder 1927

The public administrator appealed to the California Supreme court for a decision on the title to the property.

Dying Hermit’s Note Valid

In May of 1927 the Supreme court affirmed the decision of Judge JG Quinn that the note given to Brusseau from Kruse constituted a deed to the 10-acres of land.

Oakland Tribune 1926

A Bit of History

Hays Canyon

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection -William J. Dingee’s Map of Oakland and vicinity. Compiled from Official Surveys and Records 1899 https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~275209~90048562

Charles Kruse owned and lived on 10-acres of land in Hayes Canyon since 1888.s.

Oakland Tribune 1888

 The property bordered on William J. Dingee’s land, and in 1888 Dingee sued Kruse for $93 to cover the cost of a fence.  

Kruse, for many years, peddled flowers to florists’ shops in the Eastbay.

After his death, it was discovered that he was the owner of one of the largest nurseries in Alameda county. Hidden behind a high fence and tall cypress hedges were the nursery and the tiny shack he lived.

Oakland Tribune Apr 10, 1923

The 10-acres was valued at more than $10,000 in 1923.

In about 1898, George Washington Brusseau purchases a 2-acre lot at 3200 Edith Street (now 4901 Harbord Drive).

Oakland Tribune 1895
Oakland Tribune 1895
Oakland Tribune 1896
1910 Directory

In 1926 Brusseau lived in a cottage known as the “Bat House” because of the number of animal skins tanned and nailed to the outside walls.

Oakland Tribune 1926

He farmed the land with the help of Jimmy, his faithful plow horse. He also had many dogs.

He intended to restore the rose gardens, which brought fame to his friend Charles Kruse and Oakland.

Oakland Tribune 1940

Brusseau lived there until his death in 1953

Oakland Tribune Apr 1953
1953 Directory

And now this…

Oakland Tribune Apr 15, 1948

This changes the whole story or it is just wrong?

Oakland Tribune Apr 15, 1948

Please Note: The dates and addresses vary from article to article. I tried my best to get it right. Oh well…

More Info:

The End

Posted in Buildings, Early Montclair, History, Montclair, Real Estate

One of the Oldest Buildings in Montclair…or is it?

A while back, I was doing a simple search on buildings in Montclair. I came across this article (posted below) from 1962, with the attached photo. It was about the destruction of the building that was to be replaced with a new $125,000 building. The new building was called the Eberhart Building.

The Eberhart Building today – Google Maps

The Eberhart Building is still standing and is located at 2070 Mountain Blvd.

Oakland Tribune Jan 30, 1962

Of course, I needed to find out more about the building that was now just a pile of rubbish, as seen in the photo above.

The photo above shows the structure as it looks today. In researching the address, I find that the real estate firm Winder and Gahan first occupied the site in 1938.

According to the article from 1962 – In 1921, a group of real estate men stood with “high hopes” in front of a small Spanish style stucco building that looked entirely out of place in the open fields of the Montclair DIstrict.

There was just a building with a sign “tract office” on it, the open fields and a dusty, narrow road in in front of it.

Oakland Tribune Jan 30, 1962

Montclair in 1921

This is probably how Montclair looked when that group of men stood in from of the building “with high hopes.” I just don’t think they were standing in front of the same building that was demolished in 1962, as noted in the article. Unless it is the one on the right and they moved it and changed the style of it?

Sales offices of real estate broker and home builder
Cos Williams 6501 Moraga
Photo c1921 by Cheney Photo Advertising F-2830
Oakland Public Library, Oakland History Room.

The small building on the left of the above picture is the office of home builder Cos Williams. The street going uphill is La Salle Avenue. The address was 6501 Moraga Avenue.

Oakland Tribune 1925

New Real Estate Firm in Montclair

New Winder Offices in Montclair
6500 Moraga Avenue
Oakland Tribune Sep 24,1933

In 1933 A.H. WInder opened an office at the corner of Moraga Avenue and La Salle Avenue. The address was 6500 Moraga Avenue.

Winder was the exclusive sales agent for the Forest Park extension and Shepherd Canyon Park.

I bet you are wondering what this has to do with the building at 2070 Mountain Blvd. Trust me, it will all make sense soon.

Oakland Tribune

In 1936 A.H. WInder and J. J. Gahan formed a new firm called “Winder & Gahan Corporation.”

Winder & Gahan Offices
6500 Moraga Ave
Oakland Tribune 1936

New Location Announced

With the expiration of their present lease at 6500 Moraga Avenue,” states A.H.Winder, “we will build a new office on the on the recently -acquired site, using a frontage of 72 feet on Mountain Boulevard”

Oakland Tribune Oct 1937

Oakland Tribune Oct 24, 1937

In 1937 the real estate firm of Winder and Gahan announced the recent purchase by the firm a piece of land (Block “H”) in the heart of the business district, near the intersection of Moraga Avenue and Mountain Boulevard.

Block H” 2070 Mountain Blvd
Alameda County Parcel Map

The Heart of Montclair Business Center

Winder & Gahan moved into their new office at 2070 Mountain Boulevard in November of 1938.

The new building at 2070 Mountain Blvd.

It would eventually be the home of Eberhart Realty. I am not sure exactly when they moved to 2070 Mountain Boulevard.

My Research

Montclair from 1935
L84-20-HJW Geospatial Inc,
Pacific Aerial Surveys, Oakland CA,
Courtesy East Bay Regional Park District.

The above picture shows “Block H” is an empty piece of land. In 1938 Winder & Gahan would build their new offices there. That small building would be there until 1962. It was destroyed by a bulldozer, as noted in the first article I posted above. That would make the building only 24 years old.

Maybe they moved the other building that is in the photo from 1921 and updated and enlarged and added stucco. What do you think?

Google Maps – 6466 Moraga Ave

I think the building on the right is the oldest in Montclair. It is in the photos from the 1920s. It was the first home of the Montclair Realty Company. More on that later

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, purchased 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
The yellow arrow shows the log cabin, green arrow the pool and blue arrow the tennis courts

More of Fernwood –

Posted in Oakland Tracts

Cameron Built

Beautiful Homes in Oakland’s Warm Belt

Fifty “Cameron Built”  Modern Spanish Home in the Fruitvale  District. Real Spanish Type Stucco. Priced at $5500 to $65.00. Built to CAMERON standards. (whatever that means). Each home contains five rooms and a breakfast room, hardwood floors throughout, tile bath, tile sink, Hoyt water heater, fireplace for coal, wood or gas, latest style electric fixtures, base plugs in every room. Russwin solid brass hardware with glass knobs. All of the large lots with fences, garage and cement walks.

 

The tract was designed by W. A. Doctor and built by H.C. Cameron with furnishings provided by Lachman Brothers.  Chas. A Neal was the exclusive agent for “Cameron Built Homes” on Maple and School Streets. The tract office was located at Pleitner and School streets

The 1st unit started in 1923 on Maple and School Streets.

The 2nd unit was started in 1925 at Texas and Pleitner Streets.

Oakland Tribune Nov 25, 1923

The first ten homes were completed and ready in November 1923.

By October 1924, twenty-two homes were complete.

Oakland Tribune Nov 16, 1924
Oakland Tribune Nov 24, 1924
The corner of Texas Street and Curran Ave – Google Maps
Oakland Tribune Nov 24, 1924
3039 Texas Street – Present Day Google Maps
Present Day Maple Street