“We are building this clubhouse beyond our immediate requirement but with an eye to the future”
Mrs. E.T. Jepson Nov 08, 1925
A New Clubhouse
“A very handsome $10,000 structure is planned for the Montclair Clubhouse. It will be 109 by 40 feet and will contain a large auditorium, stage, dressing room, dining room, kitchen, check room, restroom, and basement space, which will be utilized as billiard room.”
The groundbreaking celebration was held in March of 1925 at the junction of Thorn Road (now Thornhill Drive) and Mountain Blvd.
Members of the Montclair Improvement Club inNovember of 1925 and began constructing the new clubhouse.
New Clubhouse Opens
In March of 1926, the Montclair Improvement Club held the $ 20,000 Montclair Community clubhouse formal dedication.
The structure is one-story and is of Spanish architecture. Features included an auditorium with stage and fireplace, dining and reception rooms, an electrically equipped kitchen.
John Perona was the builder who donated his services. Contributions of labor from club members reduced the cost of construction.
They also planned to have tennis and handball courts, a playground for children, and a golf course.
In March of 1926, the Montclair Improvement Club held their first dance at the new clubhouse.
A Bit of History
The beginnings of the Montclair Improvement Club can be traced back to as early as 1923.
After a few years, it became the Montclair Bussiness Assoc.
Membership was made up of residents of Montclair, Merriewood, and Forest Park.
The Women’s Auxiliary to the Montclair Improvement Club was also formed in 1923. The name was changed to Montclair Women’s Club in 1925 when it became affiliated with the California Federation of Women’s Clubs
Montclair Women’s Clubhouse
In May of 1928, the women’s club purchased the clubhouse from Montclair Improvement Club.
They held their first dance in August of 1928.
Clubhouse Damaged in Fire
In November of 1928, a fire damaged the interior of the clubhouse.
Clubhouse is Sold
In 1996 the Montclair Women’s Club was sold. From 1996 until 2015, it was an events center called the Montclair Women’s Cultural Arts Club.
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.
Eight charming five-room homes of Spanish and Mission architecture were built by Willis F. Lynn on Nicol Avenue. Five of the houses were sold before they were completed. The last three went on sale on June 14, 1925.
Each house has:
Breakfast room or nook
Dining room with built-in buffet
Hardwood floors throughout
Automatic water heaters
Priced at $5950.00 in 1925.
Lynn Homes on Best Avenue
Another group of homes went on sale on November 15, 1925. Located on Best Avenue between Brookdale and Trask. The houses have an attractive and varied style of architecture.
Each of the homes has six-rooms, a garage, and a laundry room.
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 the 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
House and homesite complete – $100 down and $1 a day.
Homesite and material for a house – $50 down and 75c. a day
Homesite – $25 down and 50c.a day
Due to the interest in Melrose Highlands, CP Murdock set up a bus system to bring potential buyers to the site and for the residents.
New School for Melrose Highlands
In 1923 the “Columbia Park School” was built on Sunkist Drive. It was next to the home of Susie Thompson and her husband Roy, who lived at6886 Sunkist Drive.
Mrs. Thompson was the custodian of the one-room school building for three years when only 14 families lived in the area.
The school was later destroyed in a high wind, was replaced by a new school (down the street), and then that school was renamed the Charles Burckhalter School. Oakland Tribune, May 10, 1969.
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
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 the 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 article below 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 “Highlands of Oakland” went on sale in November of 1925. It is located area of Tunnel Road and behind what is now the Parkwoods Condominiums. This area was burned during the 1991 Oakland Firestorm, and I assume there are no original homes left.
The “Highlands of Oakland” includes the following streets Bristol Drive, Buckingham Blvd, Charing Cross Road, Devin Way Marlborough Terrace, Norfolk Road,, Sherwick Drive and Westmoreland Drive. The area is right on the border of Berkeley. That area is now called the Claremont Hills.
The Highlands of Oakland faces on Tunnel Road and is 20 minutes from the business district of Oakland. It consisted of 300 large parcels for a low price of $225.
Fred T. Wood Co. developed this beautiful scenic tract high in the hills of Oakland.
In the months before the opening of the “Highlands of Oakland” force of men had been actively building streets. The winding roads cover some of the most beautiful scenic property in the San Francisco Bay –
More pictures of the Highlands of Oakland can be seen here – OMCA
“The Oakland Hills has been compared to the Seven Hills of Rome.”
Oakland Tribune November 29, 1925
“Miss Australia” Beryl Mills visits the “Highlands of Oakland” after touring UC Berkeley.
Montclair Highlands was one of the earlier subdivisions in Montclair. Located in the hills back of Piedmont and just above Montclair’s Business district or the “Townsite” as locals called it in 1925.
“Montclair Business Center, as the name indicates, is the tract opened as a community trading district.” Oakland Tribune May 17, 1925
“Montclair Highlands is separated by the Business Center from the original Montclair” (more on that later). Oakland Tribune May 17, 1925
Montclair Highlands fronts out overlooking the bay and beyond.
“It is said that the elevation of Montclair highlands affords a view which surpasses anything from any other point in Oakland.” Oakland Tribune May 17, 1925
Montclair Highlands is soon called the “Top of the World.”
“The beautiful panorama afforded from the “Top of the World” is available to you all today – to be framed permanently by the windows of the home, you will build” C P Murdock Vice President of the Realty Syndicate – Oakland Tribune May 31, 1925.
“Skyline Blvd, which runs through Montclair Highlands has for years been the great scenic drive of the Eastbay.” Oakland Tribune Tribune May 31, 1925