This is one of those posts where I had no writing intention, let alone knowing it existed. Two examples are my most popular post, “The Forgotten Tunnel” or “The Backyard Fence War” I stumbled across articles on both while researching another post. Sometimes they pan out, and I find lots of exciting things to share. I wasn’t so lucky with this post, and it ended up being kind of a dud. I thought I would share it anyway
A groundbreaking celebration was held in November of 1956 for the new Bancroft Avenue Parkway, and construction began soon after.
Bancroft Avenue was to become a major thoroughfare linking San Leandro and Oakland, relieving the traffic on MacArthur, Foothill, and East 14th (now International)
Oakland Mayor Clifford E. Rishell and Alameda County Supervisor were at the controls of an enormous earthmover, lifting the first load of earth.
They symbolized the joint city-county participation.
The project’s estimated cost was $4,000,000 and was financed jointly from Oakland and Alameda County allocations of state gas tax funds.
The need for this arterial was foreseen as early as 1927 when the major street plan of the City was formulated. Uncontrolled subdivision in East Oakland in the early history of the city had left a large area with no provision for the important east-west movement
The parkway was to provide the much needed relief of Foothill Boulevard, MacArthur Boulevard and East 14th Street (now international), as well as a direct connection to an existing major city street, Bancroft Avenue in San Leandro.
Studies for this thoroughfare were commenced in 1941 and protection of the right-of-way started.
The Bancroft Parkway
The parkway was to extend from the San Leandro city limits to East 14th Street(now International) and 46th Avenue.
“The project will convert Bancroft from a rundown noncontinuous street and railroad right-of-way to a major intercity thoroughfare and railroad parkway.”
The parkway had a two-lane section on each side with room for parking. In the center divider was the Southern Pacific railroad spur line to the Chevrolet Assembly Plant. It was concealed with trees and shrubbery.
The first unit was 1.17 miles and was from the San Leandro border to 90th avenue.
The second unit was between 90th to 79th Avenues. – June 1957
The third unit was 79th Avenue to Havenscourt Blvd – Spring 1958
Total Length: 4.25 miles
Removal of Buildings
The City of Oakland acquired property along the route.
The east side of Church Street and 68th Avenue.
Between 90th Avenue and Parker Street.
The western side of Church Street and 73rd Avenue
The south side of Bancroft Avenue east of 74th Avenue.
The north side of Bancroft Avenue between 96th and 98th Avenues.
The following is a list of structures that were removed for the extension of the Bancroft Parkway.
A miscellaneous collection of buildings along Bancroft Avenue between 73rd Avenue and Havenscourt Blvd. were offered for sale by the City of Oakland.
The assortment included duplexes, a store, several homes, and garages. They had to be moved or demolished. The minimum bid was $2,850 for the entire group.
The Final Destinatination
Today Bancroft Avenue is down to one lane in each direction with bike lanes.
More on the mansions that once graced the streets of Oakland
Koa Hall – Bailey Mansion
W. H. Bailey, who owned plantations in Hawaii, hired W.J. Mathews to designed his home and cost $70,000 to build circa 1889.
The woodwork of the main hall was the beautiful koa from the Hawaiian Islands. By the main staircase, there were carvings of koa. The woodwork in the reception-room on one side of the hall was bird’s- eye maple. Antique oak was used in the library and the dining room.
It was converted into a rooming or boarding house’
Sometime in the late 1920s the old mansion was razed and the Hotel Lakehurst was built.
It is now called Lakehurst Hall.
Location: 1369 Jackson St now 1569 Jackson Street at the corner of 17th Street.
“Aloha, nui,” or “Love be unto you.” Is carved above one of the entrances
Samuel T. Alexander came to Oakland from Hawaii in the early 1880s. He was one of the founders of Alexander & Baldwin, an American company that cultivated sugar cane.
In 1882 Alexander purchased a lot on the northwest corner of Sixteenth and Filbert for $6,000.
The three-story Queen Anne style home was designed by Clinton Day was completed in 1883 at the cost of $20.000
Move to Piedmont
The family lived there until 1912 when Mrs. Alexander moved to Piedmont to be closer to her son, Wallace Alexander.
Sometime after 1912, the mansion was converted to a rooming house renting out rooms until the mid -1960s.
New Life for Old Mansion
In 1967 the once venerable mansion stood deserted and in despair, its windows boarded or broken was scheduled to be demolished.
Members of the Oak Center Neighborhood Association decided the old mansion could receive a face lift and become a community “Neighborhood House.” The demolition was halted.
The visualized the rehabilted building comprising of office space for the Oak Center Association, a children’s library and study hall, an adult library and reading room, a large all-purpose room for meetings and socials and room for individual and group counseling.
The group succeeded in saving the old mansion from the wreckers only to have it nearly demolished anyway –by vandals. The house was broken into and ruined beyond repair and was finally demolished in 1968.
To make room for Highway 980 the William H. Quinn Home at 1425 Castro Street was moved to 1004-06 16th Street.
It was built in 1865, the 14-room house of rococo architecture. The barn had room for ten horses and room for 20 tons of hay.
The house had 14 rooms made of redwood. The barn had room for 10 horses
The mansion had a wood and coal furnace, and the radiators are believed to have been the earliest models of that kind in the country. The rooms were paneled with massives doors 9 feet high. Beautiful mirrors adorned the wall.
It was reported that Susan B. Anthony once slept there.
The house and barn property was purchase by Marston Campbell, Jr, as an investment. It was torn down in 1948.
Edward P. Flint, a land developer, and San Francisco businessman, moved to Oakland in 1860. He lived at 13th and Clay before moving to this house.
The site where he built the house at 447 Orange Street was a part of a larger parcel he subdivided in Adams Point.
After Flint died, Admiral Thomas S. Phelps purchased the property. Phelps was a veteran of the Spanish American War. In 1939 the property was purchased by M.A. Marquard, and lived in the house until 1964.
The house was demolished in 1964 and replaced with a “modern 28-unit apartment building.
The new structure has 15 two-bedroom and 12 one-bedroom apartments, plus a penthouse. The building was designed by Al Colossi. and is located at 447 Orange Street.
Mr. and Mrs. Marquard lived in the penthouse of the new apartment.
The nation’s first federally assisted rehabilitation project.
Federal Housing Act of 1954
In 1955 a 125 block area bounded by E. 21st Street, 14th Avenue, E. 12th Street, and Lake Merritt was chosen as the “study area” for urban renewal.
In October of 1955, Oakland applied to the Federal Government to formally designate an 80 block area of East Oakland bordering Lake Merritt as its first urban renewal project.
First in the West
The area was Oakland’s first concentrated action against blight and substandard housing.
Clinton Park was a conservation project, the first of this type in the Western United States.
When the project began in July 1958, the area covered 282 acres contained approximately 1,358 structures and 4,750 dwelling units. Clinton Park Project is bounded by Lake Merritt, 14th Avenue, East 21st. and East 14th Streets
The field office for the project was located at 1626 6th Avenue. The field office, an example of urban renewal in action –was a 50-year old house that was located at 1535 10th Avenue.
Oakland Gets U.S. Grant
In December of 1955, the Federal Government earmarked $1 210,000 for Oakland’s Clinton Park Urban Renewal Program. This amount was two-thirds of the anticipated total cost.
New School – Recreation Center
“heart of the Clinton Park urban renewal area.”
The new Franklin School served as an educational and recreational facility and the nucleus of the project. The revised plans for the site called for the additional area and a recreation center to be added. The school replaced the old school building condemned as an earthquake hazard.
Oakland acquired property to double the playgrounds of Franklin School.
The new school opened in September of 1956.
Due to many problems in acquiring property for the expanded facility, the Recreation Center and Playground area’s completion was delayed until the summer of l 961.
Our City Oakland
In 1956 the Oakland Junior Chamber Committee of the Chamber of Commerce produced a movie on Oakland’s urban renewal program. The movie, entitled ” Our City Oakland.”
The film (in color with sound)shows examples of Oakland’s slum dwellings, and census figures at the time showed Oakland more than 15,000 such structures (Wow!)
The film also tells of the work in Clinton Park.
In July of 1957, a wrecking crew started the demolition of eight houses near the new Franklin School. This would be the location of the new recreation center.
Older Home Gets New Life
In 1956, the Greater Eastbay Associated Homebuilders purchased a 50-year-old home at 1535 10th Avenue.
Home and Garden Show
The house was moved from its lot to become an exhibit at the Home and Garden Show.
It was completely remodeled as a part of Oakland’s Operation Home Improvement Campaign.
Following the show, the home was moved to and used as the Clinton Park Project field office.
The office was located at 1621 6th Avenue.
Looks like the house was moved sometime in the mid 1960s. A church is there now.
A Rehab Project
The homes at 624 and 630 Foothill Blvd
Many New Apartment Buildings
From 1956 to 1962, 57 new apartment buildings were constructed. By 1960 $4,000,000 had been spent on new apartment construction.
The ground was broken in May of 1956 for the first significant construction project for Clinton Park.
Robert A. Vandenbosch designed the 32-unit apartment building at 1844 7th Avenue and East 19th Street.
The three-story structure was built around an inner court that has balconies overlooking the court from every apartment.
New Apartment Project
A new 12-unit apartment building replaced a “dilapidated” single-family dwelling at 12th Avenue and East 18th Street.
The old structure was located at 1755 12th Avenue, was built in 1900. It had been converted illegally to an eight-unit apartment.
The structure costs $75.000 to build.
Garden Type Apartment
In 1958 a new $400,000 apartment was built at 1125 East 18th Street.
Two old homes and their outbuildings were razed to make room for the 40-unit two-story building with parking for the 24 cars on the ground floor.
An eight-unit apartment building at 645 Foothill Blvd was under construction at the same time.
Clinton Park Manor
Clinton Park Manor, a 144-unit complex, was built in 1958 at the cost of $1,400,000.
24 efficiency units
50 one-bedroom units
46 two-bedroom units
24 three-bedroom units
Architect Cecil S. Moyer designed the four three-story structures with a landscaped courtyard in the middle.
The complex is bounded by 12th and 13th Avenues and East 19th and East 20th Streets.
One of Oakland’s first schools, Brooklyn Grammar School, was built on the site in 1863. It was renamed Swett School in 1874, and in 1882 a new school Bella Vista was built there. Bella Vista School was razed in 1951.
The Valhalla Apartments
In March of 1960, a three-story 48-unit apartment building was built on the northeast corner of 12th Avenue and East 17th Street at the cost of $556,000.
Architect Cecil Moyer also designed this building. The new building contained (it might still have the same layout):
3- bachelor apartments
24- one-bedroom apartments
11- two-bedroom apartments
10- three-bedroom apartments
The courtyard had a swimming pool.
Six old homes, some dating back to the 1890s, were demolished to clear the site.
A partial list of the new apartment buildings
2225-7th Avenue – 1957
1618-6th Avenue – 1957
1640 -6th Avenue -1957
602 Foothill – remodeled
1925-35 10th Avenue – 1960
In 1960 Safeway Stores Inc. built a new 20,000 square foot building and a parking lot on 14th Avenue.
The Architects were Wurster, Bernardi, and Emmons of San Francisco.
Loops’ for Traffic
To meet the problem of through traffic on a residential street, which caused neighborhood deterioration. Forty-seven intersections were marked to be altered, either to divert automobiles to through streets by way of traffic “loops.” or slow them down with curb extensions.
The traffic-diverting “loops” will be landscaped areas extending diagonally across intersections.
The result of these intersections was that through traffic in the project area is limited to 5th, 8th Avenues, north and south, East 21st Street, Foothill Blvd, and East 15th Street, east-west.
Diverters were placed at East 19th Street and 6th and 11th Avenues and East 20th Street at 7th and 10th Avenues. Also at East 20th Street and 12th Avenue.
Discouragers were also placed at East 20th Street and 13th Avenue and East 19th Street and 13th Avenue.
New Mercury Lights and Traffic Signals
Other features of the program included:
New Recreation Center
Widening of several streets and the installation of curbs and sewers.
Planting of 1,600 trees about 20 per block.
Construction of pedestrian overpasses over Foothill Blvd and East 15th Street for safe access to Franklin School.
Installation of new street lighting, street signs, and traffic signs.
Beautiful Homes of Clinton Park
By March of 1962, 1,081 structures, containing 3,056 dwelling units have been repaired to eliminate all code. Violation. There have been ll7 structures demolished during the same period.
During this same period, 57 new apartment buildings were constructed within the project area, adding l,l08 new units to the existing housing supply.
The name Lockwood has been a part Oakland for a long time. I am still looking into where the name came from. In 1875 the Lockwood School District reported the following. Lockwood was (is) considered a part of the Elmhurst District.
The site of Lockwood Gardens was once the extensive estate of William Cluff Jr. a wholesale grocer of some prominence in the early days.
Lockwood Gardens is located between 64th and 66th Avenues on the southside of East 14th Street on 2 1/2 acres of land that was occupied by a golf practice range and one house.
The proposed housing development that would become Lockwood Gardens was met with protest. The major complaints were as follows.
One the provisions in the funding of government housing the city was to carry out “equilievant demolition” program. Under the provision for every new housing unit built a substandard dwelling not with in the project area must be demolished. The city had not met the requirements the projects that were built in West Oakland. Lockwood was 372 housing units. Over 500 hundred homes would have to be demolished.
The cost of building the projects was about $1,175,525. Lockwood was ready for occupancy in 1942.
The Early Years
Lockwood opened in August of 1942. Originally designed for low-income families regardless of employment, they were converted for the use of families the defense industry only.
this metropolitan area’s answer to Govenment housing officials prayers”
Oakland Tribune 1944
In the 1944 the Lockwood had a population of 1600, which included 372 family units and a total of 800 children. An all volunteer Community Council. A very active Improvement Club, with the purpose to promote unity among the residents and to expand social and sports programs for adults and children.
There were two newspapers, two orchestras which provided music for the semi-monthly adult dances and the weekly teen dances. There was a community victory garden.
Organized girls’ and boys’ clubs carried out a full program of social and sports activities under the direction of volunteers.
There was an auxiliary police force of 40 members who provided their own uniforms served under Chief of Police James Rouse.
Race and Housing
In a letter to the editor of the Oakland Tribune Mrs. Mollie Thorner wrote the following:
Editor: Only recently has our whole neighborhood become fully aware of the shocking policies at Lockwood Gardens Federal Housing Projects. (65th Avenue). The neighborhood surrounding Lockwood Gardens is a fine democratic community where all peoples, regardless of race, creed, or color, live side by side and to the enrichment of all. The policy of Lockwood Gardens, however, is: No admittance to any minority groups. Please note that this is a Federal Housing Project for GI families of low income. All Americans are asked to fight on the battlefield, regardless of race, creed, or color. What do the good people of Oakland think of a policy where, if the GI lives to come home, he finds a Federal Project closed to him because of the color of his skin? These projects are partly paid for by the Federal. Government, but the policy is left in the hands of each city. And since one poison always breeds another, it has now been learned that hundreds of families live in Lockwood Gardens whose income is was above the maximum ser for Federal Housing tenents. We believe that the housing authorities shut their eyes to this to keep up the discrimination policy. We say with great pride, now that our community did at last find all these things out, it will leave no stone unturned to have these policies changed. The citizens of all Oakland have a duty in this.
Lockwood is also known as the “6-5 Vill” (Village), and is one half of the “Vill.” The other half of the “Vill” is the recently torn down 69th San Antonio Villas housing project, where infamous drug kingpin Felix Mitchell is from. The 69th San Antonio Villas has since been remodeled into condominiums. Once an extremely unattractive housing project, the Oakland housing authority also remodeled Lockwood Gardens. However, unlike the 69th Vill, whose crime rate dropped after remodeling, these efforts have done little to thwart the crime that still plagues the 65th Vill.
The Oakland Housing Authority received five federal HOPE VI grants totaling $83 million, enabling it to revitalize four large public housing sites and four small scattered sites. OHA’s first HOPE grant was used to renovate one of OHA’s original “war housing” developments, the 372-unit Lockwood Gardens, constructed in 1943. This was in 1994, 1998, 1999 and 2000
Lockwood Gardens was rehabilitated in the early 2000s.
Ostrich farming was promoted as a sound investment over a century ago. The farms, well documented on postcards, and were tourist attractions.
Ostriches were brought to the United States in the early 1880s from Africa. In the wild, they lived in warm, dry climates. Southern California seemed to have conditions similar to their natural African environment. By the late 1890s, there were eight locations in Los Angeles, Orange, and San Deigo counties.
The popularity of feathers in women’s fashion made raising the birds an attractive investment.
Farm in Oakland
In the fall of 1907, San Francisco newspapers ran an ad campaign for stock investment in an ostrich farm in Oakland.
In July of 1908, W.H.” Harvey” Bentley of the Bentley Ostrich Farm in San Diego County announced the opening of a branch in the Elmhurst District (sometimes Fruitvale) of Oakland at East 14th and High Street.
It opened on August 30th of 1908. It featured birds named Mr. and Mrs “George Dewey” (Admiral at the battle of Manila Bay) and the other Spanish American War hero from the Cuba campaign, “Fighting Bob” Evans commander of the Great White Fleet.
Forty-six birds compromised the original herd.
In 1910 it was announced that the addition of a factory to their local salesroom and yards. Which meant the hats were made in Oakland and not San Diego. For the years 1907 to 1911, ostrich plumage on women’s hats was at its peak and all the rage.
In January of 1912, the owner of the Bently Ostrich Farm, was killed in an auto accident near the San Diego farm.
His son sold the farm to a group of Oakland investors.
The name was changed to Golden State Ostrich Farm in 1913.
The farm had spacious ground floor offices and salesroom. In the sales there was a magnificent display of plumes in all sizes, prices and colors.
With the coming of World War I, as American and European women entered the workforce, utilitarian clothing replaced the flamboyant fashions of the early 1900s. Broader hats were pinned up with a broach or artificial flower.
Plucking is Painless”
Oakland Tribune May 01, 1952
The bird is shoved into a corner by several men. A hood is placed over the birds head. The plume is cut leaving about an inch of quill in the flesh. The quill would soon fall out.
Golden State Ostrich Farm in Oakland filed for bankruptcy in early 1915.
“Whole Ostrich for the Price of a Feather”
The press announcement said it was now cheaper to buy the entire ostrich than the amount once paid for the feathers to adorn a hat.
The ostrich farms in northern California had all but failed by 1915. The “industry” had a brief heyday, and in the end, defeat by war and a significant fashion change in hats.
In 1858 Miss Julia Aldrich was contracted to run a small private school on Isaac (Issac) Yoakum’s farm. Yoakum had built his house on the site of the present Lockwood School, he later moved that house and replaced it with a small building to be used as a school (see above).
The school was located at the intersection East 14th Street (County Road No. 1525 and now International Blvd) Mary Street, then 68th Avenue, and later 69th Avenue. The schoolhouse remained in use for another 42 years, with a small addition in 1892.
The first year Lockwood had 12 students enrolled.
In February of 1876, there were 28 boys, and 10 girls enrolled in the school. The teacher was Alonzo Crawford.
In August of 1876 (typo in the newspaper), there were 20 boys and 21 girls enrolled.
The Damon Family owned a general store at the corner of E.14th & 66th
The Kinsell Family lived on 94th Avenue just below E. 14th
The A.H. Merritt family lived on 66th Avenue
The Moss home was at 82nd and Foothill
The Silva’s owned a saloon at 84th and E. 14th
New School – 1902
The new school was built on the corner of East 14th Street and 68th Avenue in 1902. Charles H Greenman was the principal. The school was demolished (need to verify this) in 1936.
Greenman died while fighting a fire in the school playground in 1919. In the 1950s, they named the athletic field after Greenman.
Across from the school was the 282-acre dairy belonging to William Manchido. The big pasture was later used as the landing field of Weldon Cooke,an early Oakland aviator. In 1910 Wickham Havens subdivided into what we now know as Havenscourt.
Old School is Sold – 1903
Class of 1904
Lockwood Junior High – 1912
Old Timers Reunions
For many years the former students of the school would hold an annual reunion for all graduates of the school.
The Lockwood Quill
Lockwood School Band
The first traffic reserve unit was formed at Lockwood in February 1928.
The William M Stephens family was a very successful African American family from Oakland. They owned the Stephens Restaurant, and Virginia, their daughter, won acclaim at the age of fourteen when her name “Jewel City” was selected for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition buildings in a competition sponsored by the San Francisco Call-Post. Virginia went on to be the first African American woman to receive a law degree University of California Berkeley’sBoalt School of Law in 1929.
The Stephens Family
William Stephens was born in 1870 in Accomack County, Virginia. He moved out to California while still a child and attended school in Oakland and San Francisco. After graduation, Stephens completed coursework at Heald College before taking a job with the Southern Pacific Railwayin 1886. Beginning as a Sleeping Car Porter, he worked his way up to a clerkship under H.E. Huntington, assistant to the company’s President.
In 1894 he lived at 1132 Linden Street in West Oakland.
In 1898, Stephens resigned from Southern Pacific and took a position with the Crocker family, traveling with them throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Through these travels, Stephens learned about the hotel and restaurant business.
In 1901, he married Pauline Logan (1874-1929) of Tehama, California.
Pauline gave birth to one daughter, Annie Virginia (who went by Virginia), on April 7, 1903. Due to his daughter’s health problems as a young girl, Stephens resigned from his post with the Crockers and began working at an Oakland social club. He moved on from this position in 1915 to manage the clubhouse at the Hotel Del Monte Golf and Country Club in Monterey County.
Pauline died in May of 1929
William died on November 21, 1932
Eventually, Stephens opened his own restaurant in Oakland. Known as Stephens’ Restaurant, it grew from small quarters into an ample establishment seating over 200 people, occupying three locations near Lake Merritt.
During the 1920s and 1930s, the restaurant enjoyed great success and was usually filled to capacity. Stephens took great delight in employing African American high school and college students so they could earn money for their education.
In 1936 the restaurant added a cocktail lounge and was under the management of George Devant and Charles Simpson ( Stephens nephew.)
Know to gourmets for years as the
home of real southern cooking”
Stephen’s daughter, Virginia, won acclaim at the age of fourteen when her name “Jewel City” was selected for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition buildings in a competition sponsored by the San Francisco Call-Post.
Virginia attended the University of California at Berkeley and received a bachelor’s degree in science in 1924.
Encouraged by her father to attend law school, she enrolled in Boalt School of Law at UC Berkeley and earned a degree in 1929. At that time, she was only the second woman to receive a law degree from the school and the first African American woman to complete the program. Virginia passed the California Bar in the same year, the first African American female Attorney in California.
While at Berkeley, Virginia and Ida L. Jackson were charter members Rho Chapter in 1921 and Alpha Nu Omega, a graduate chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha. These were among the first Greek sororities for African American women west of the Mississippi.
Virginia married attorney George Coker (1906-1970). The Cokers helped tutor African American students for the State bar exams. They moved to Virginia and maintained a private law practice there for almost a decade.
In 1939 after working in private practice for ten years, they moved back to California, settling in Sacramento. Virginia received an appointment as Attorney in the State Office of the Legislature Council in Sacramento in May 1939. In this capacity, she helped with drafting and amending legislative bills, and worked under four different legislative councils:
Upon her retirement in 1966, Virginia had attained the position of Deputy of the Indexing Section. Virginia died in Sacramento at the age of 83 on February 11, 1986.