It is located where Foothill Blvd meets Trask Street and 55th Avenue. 55th Avenue was formally called Central Avenue, and Foothill Blvd was often referred to as the Scenic Boulevard. Central Terrace also includes Ruth Avenue, Laverne Avenue, El Camille Avenue, and Kingsland Avenue. The area now is considered to be an extension of Maxwell Park or the Fairfax District, depending on who you talk to.
Brochure for Central Terrace
The Mutual Realty Company put the Central Terrace Subdivision on sale in April of 1912. The agent was Fred T. Wood, who later took over the project. Then they added the Central Terrace Extension and Scenic Park Knoll
“Central Terrace is surrounded by modern schools and educational institutions of the very highest standard, the John C. Fremont high erected at the cost of $140,000, the Melrose School, the W.P. Frick School and the Lockwood Grammar School and the famous Mills Seminary for young ladies, all are within short walking distance from any part of Central Terrace”
Natural beauty abounds in the 150 acres of wooded, rolling hills that comprise the Oakmore District or Oakmore Highlands. The Walter H. LeimertCompany laid out the subdivision with wide streets and ample sidewalks. See Oakmore Highland History
The Leimert Bridge during construction and in 1926, Photo by Cheney Photo Advertising
The original subdivision was bordered by Sausal Creek and Dimond Canyon. During the initial sales period, sound design was promoted through a model open house program called the ‘Oakmore Home Ideal’ where buyers could visit a custom home designed by local architects Miller & Warnecke.
Later, in 1934, The Leimert Company teamed with the Oakland Tribune and Breuner’s FurnitureCompany to furnish a demonstration model home that drew 8,000 visitors in three weeks.
The following year another Breuner’s furnished house was nicknamed “Golden Windows” to highlight the extensive use of glass on the view side of the home and the commanding views from the subdivision.
The homesites front on along Harbord Drive for about a half-mile or more. The lots were priced at $27.00 per foot. A forty-foot lot would cost $1075.00, with a low down payment and easy terms. Sold by the Claremont Pines Corporation and later Michell & Austin.
Oakland Tribune June 1932
Holy Names Centra High School was built on Harbord Drive and opened in 1934.
In December of 1933, the first display home opened at 4339 Harbord Drive. The house had eight rooms with two baths and a 14 x 32-foot rumpus room and “pleasing features galore.” The house was priced at $6850 and was recently sold in 2016 for $1,360,000.
In September of 1934, another display home was opened at 4347 Harbord Drive. The green and white wood and brick cottage and two bedrooms and a den or nursery and a large playroom. The house was priced at $6500, with just $75 down payment and $75 a month. The home recently sold for $825,000 in 2012.
Misc. ads for homes
The stone pillar is still there at the corner of Broadway Terrace and Ostrander Street
This is not about race. It about when Oakland city planners decided to market Oakland as “The White City.” As a suggestion to future designers and builders. It was not intended to be used in public, just circulated among builders and planners of the city. I get the thinking behind the slogan and can almost picture Oakland with the sun shining on the buildings. This was not the first time the slogan of a White City was used. The Great White City
This was in 1914.
‘White City, Oakland Plan
Years ago, in about 1914, a noted architect(of the time) while looking back at Oakland from a ferryboat, “he spoke of it as “The White City.” What he saw was the new shiny white buildings of Oakland, turn golden in the sunlight. Oakland on a “sunny day, the blue sky, and white buildings turned golden in the sun, remind one of the mystical cities of Maxfield Parish” Oakland Tribune Oct 1916
Style as Artistic Feature
In 1914 a plan to further the beautification of Oakland and designed to make Oakland more striking from the bay. Members of the Oakland Commercial Club, A.S. Lavenson, vice-president of the club, and city planning enthusiast and H. A. Lafler of the same organization. Oakland Commercial Club, Oakland, 1913;
Their idea was to suggest that builders in the future, especially in the taller buildings, use white material. Oakland, as a “white city” situated before the hills in an elevated position, could be a remarkable sight. A great mass of white buildings, with tall spires or towers, like many of that time “give semblance of, well it is declared, Oakland truly wonderful” Oakland Tribune Sept 1914.
Already the from the bay the new City hall, the new federal building, and the Central Bank building and other tall buildings in white, present a remarkable site all standing out from brown hills and their surroundings “like great monuments to progress” Oakland Tribune Sept 1914
In May of 1921, The Key System began to operate a motorcoach service. The first line opened up on May 16, 1921, to Mills College and a week later on May 21, service to Montclair began.
The Realty Syndicate purchased and paid the bills for the motor coaches, to provide transportation for potential customers to Montclair. The coaches were painted to match the streetcars.
There is a little dispute as to which line was first, the Montclair, or the Mills College lines. My feeling is a tie – they both started in May 1921.
The first tract office was a tent, and later it was a small building. The tract office was then moved the triangle piece of land at Mountain Blvd, Antioch St, and Antioch Ct. The building later became the offices of Winder Gahan, real estate agents in dealing with Montclair. The original site as seen in the photo was located on the opposite side of Moraga Rd (at LaSalle) which is now in the middle of the Warren Freeway (Hwy 13).
Offices of Winder Gahan at Antioch St and Antioch Ct. circa 1942
During the commuting hours, 6am-9am and 5 to 7pm every 20 minutes. During the remainder of the day, a 40-minute service. The fare was 6¢ with transfer privileges to streetcars. In 1924 they offered service to run until midnight. Before this, bus transportation had been confined to the out-of-town service along the highway.
New Terminal – October 1928
In 1928 a new $18,000 Terminal was built in Montclair. It was located at the corner of Mountain Blvd and La Salle, a short walk to the Sacramento Northern station. The Spanish Style building was designed by local architect Hamilton Murdock and was the first building structure in Montclair. An Architectural Guide – Pg. 276
The building is still standing and is located at 6206 La Salle Ave.
In September of 1961, a forty-year-old photo led a reunion between to former drivers who pioneered local motorcoach service in the East Bay.
J.L. “Marty” Martin started working in May 1921, and C.E. Pehrson began in September of that same year. They met in Montclair at the approximate site of the first terminal and discuss new verses or coaches and how much things had changed.
Various from the Oakland Tribune
Historical Photo of Early Bus Found Transit Times April 1975
Tomorrow’s Home Today was the first Oakland Home constructed under the Precision Built system, and it opened December 1939. It is located at the corner lot at Balboa and Colton Blvd in Montclair Highlands, with a sweeping view of the San Francisco Bay.
The home was sold by Montclair Realty Co.
“The walls and ceilings were built with Homasote, the oldest and strongest insulating and building board on the market. The walls were prefabricated by the Precision-Built process in the shop of a local mill under standards of exacting accuracy, which ensure tight joints, freedom from sagging, and permanently crack-proof walls and ceilings”. Oakland Tribune Jan 21, 1940
Merriewood is a section or neighborhood of Montclair District of Oakland. The Realty Syndicate were the exclusive agents selling the tract. It first went on sale in 1924.
Oakland Tribune stated that:
no other tract in Oakland can offer such a “combination of magnificent view and comfortable home” The ad went on to say “it is so pleasant and healthful with trees all around and birds singing away –Great for youngsters” October 1925
Lots in Merriewood were selling for as little as $1750 and as much as $2450 for a completely finished home. $30 a month with interest.
What your money bought in the 1920s:
Large lot wooded and clear
Well built roomy house
Variety of floor plans
Gas, lights, water, paved streets
Fast local and San Francisco transportation
The Merriewood Stairs are divided into two sections the Lower Merriewood stairs (from Thornhill Drive to Marden Lane to Merriewood) and the Upper Merriewood stairs (from Merriewood Drive to Valley View Road to Merriewood again). Merriewood Stairs _ Oakland Local Wiki.
In Merriewood, there is a group of streets named for the signs of the Zodiac. The streets are Aquarius Way, Capricorn Ave, Leo Way, Taurus Ave, Uranus Ave, and Virgo Rd. There are small cluster streets named in honor of Robin Hood. They are Nottingham Dr., Robin Hood Way, and Sherwood Dr. Street Names Oakland Local Wiki
Various Clippings from the Oakland Tribune
From the Oakland Tribune 1924
First Model Home
The first model home was located on Thornhill Drive and Grisborne Ave. The address was 5815 Thorn Road (now Thornhill Drive). It served as the model home and tract office for Merriewood. Later it was the offices of Phil Hearty, who sold real estate in Montclair for years, he also was involved in the development of many tracts in Oakland.
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