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.
The schools were a single-story building with integrated gardens, and pavilion-like classrooms increased children’s access to the outdoors, fresh air, and sunlight. They were mostly built in areas away from city centers, sometimes in rural locations, to provide a space free from pollution and overcrowding.
New School House
Free education and fresh air has interested educators from as far away as Paris, France“
The first open-air school in Oakland was established at the Fruitvale School No. 2 (now Hawthorne School) on Tallent Street (now East 17th). When it opened, there were forty students enrolled, from grades third through seventh. Miss Lulu Beeler was selected as the teacher because she had prior experience working in an open-air school in the East.
The school designed to help cure ill and tubercular children. The focus was on improving physical health through the infusion of fresh air in the classrooms and into the children’s lungs. The school was established as a medical experiment. The school reserved for children judged to be of “weak” disposition.
The Fruitvale school is decidedly a health school”
It was constructed at the rear of the playground, one hundred feet from the existing main building.
The square, the wood-framed building was raised to prevent underfloor dampness.
Each of the sides had a different treatment to reflect the sun. The southern side had tall windows that, when open, didn’t seem to be enclosed. The east side was opened to the elements with only half of a wall. A screen protected them from insects. In case of storms awnings can be pulled down to protect the students.
The school was to be the first in a series of open-air schools installed on the grounds of Oakland’s existing city schools.
There was some objection in opening the school, from the parents of the selected children and the children themselves. The parents did not want their children singled out; the children worried they would be teased as being “sick.” These fears were realized, and the teachers struggled with how to deal with the repeated taunts
The idea of the open-air classroom was incorporated in many of the new schools built in the 1920s. I don’t know how long the Fruitvale Open Air school was open. I will update if I find more information.
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 this series of posts, I hope to show Then and Now images Oakland Schools. Along with a bit of history of each school, I highlight. Some of the photos are in the form of drawings or postcards, or from the pages of history books.
Note: Piecing together the history of some of the older schools is sometimes tricky. I do this all at home and online — a work in progress for some. I have been updating my posts when I find something new. Let me know of any mistakes or additions.
UPDATED September 21, 2020
“Fruit vale Public School” – Fruitvale No. 1
The Fruit vale (as it was sometimes spelled) School district was formed in 1889 to build a new schoolhouse.
From what I can tell is the school was in the same general location of where Fruitvale Elementary school is today, at the corner of Boston Street and School Street.
New Life as Church
In 1896 after the Fruitvale No. 1 was built, the old school was moved and remodeled for use as a church. It was re-dedicated as the Higgins Methodist Episcopal Church in Mar of 1896.
Fruitvale No. 1 – Fruitvale SchoolElementary
In 1894 the Fruitvale School district, the trustees were forced to meet the demand and take steps to build a larger school. The new school replaced the old Fruitvale School building from the 1880s.
The present quarters a ramshackle shanty, will be moved and a new building will be erected in its place.“
SF Examiner Mar 29, 1895
SF Examiner Mar 29, 1895
The pastures of the Empire Dairy surrounded the school from 1880-1901
Back in 1885, the site at Boston and School Streets overlooked the city of Oakland and the Bay of San Francisco.
The style of the new building was the Italian Renaissance. The architects were Cunningham Bros. of Oakland.
The plans called for a $13,000 2-story building with a concrete basement. Each floor was to have four large classrooms and lunchrooms for the teachers. The principal’s office was on the first floor, and space was reserved for a library. In the basement, there were separate playrooms for the boys and girls, janitor rooms, and a heating apparatus.
In 1913 Fruitvale School No. 1 was changed to just Fruitvale School.
New School Built
The new Fruitvale School was dedicated on December 1, 1950. The new school has 14 classrooms, a library, a cafeteria, a kindergarten, and an auditorium. The school was designed by Ponsford and Price Architects and cost $497,700. The school has room for 569 students.
The dedication was attended by William Taylor, a long-time resident of the Fruitvale District, he was a student at the “old Fruitvale School “in the 1880s. Oakland Tribune June 1962
Fruitvale School No. 3 was built in the Allendale neighborhood in 1904.
Before 1904 children living along High Street had to make the long walk to Fruitvale School No. 1 on School Street in Boston. Allendale was chosen because of its central location to the children from Laurel Grove District (Laurel District) to High Street and down to Foothill Blvd, then known as Old County Road.
The 1904 school building cost $107,437 to build. The first years’ enrollment was 809. A four-room addition in 1910 and another four-rooms costing $49,458 were added in 1928.
Miss Alice V. Baxley was the first principal of Allendale School from 1904-1913.
In 1913 Fruitvale No. 5 was renamed Allendale School.
Dangerous and a Hazard –
The school was deemed unsafe and closed in 1953. At the time, it was one of the oldest school buildings, there were 2 others from the pre-1906 era still standing. The old school building withstood the 1906 earthquake.
17 portables were placed on the site to house the students until the fall of 1959.
The day of reckoning has come for the old Allendale School building which has been razed”
A new Fruitvale School to be built in the Rhoda Tract at Hopkins Blvd ( MacArthur Blvd). The school to cost $100,000.”
Oakland Tribune 1909
Oakland Tribune 1909
The new school was called the Allendale – Fruitvale Junior High and was constructed at the Hopkins (MacArthur Blvd) and Coolidge Avenue.
The name of the Allendale – Fruitvale Junior High was changed to Bret Harte Junior High at a school board meeting in 1929; the other name under consideration was Dimond Junior High.
The school was named after Bret Harte, who was an American author and poet and best known for his somewhat romanticized accounts of pioneer life in California. He lived in Oakland from about 1854 to 1857 at the home of his stepfather, Colonel Andrew F. Williams, who was later Oakland’s fourth mayor.
The school was the last to the new school to be built out of the 1924 Bond issue. It was constructed at the cost of $120,000.
The building contained 22 classrooms and had 699 pupils enrolled on opening day in 1930. The school took graduates from Fruitvale, Allendale, Sequoia, and Laurel Schools.
The school opened in 1930.
The school’s auditorium gymnasium building was constructed in 1950.
In 1957 the school district opened bids for a new building at Bret Harte.
The new building was built on the campus in 1959, another major expansion took place in 1979.
The 1930 time capsule in a copper box found during the 1979 construction was never opened and was since lost.
The school is located at 3700 Coolidge Avenue Oakland, CA 94602
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.
The first ten homes were completed and ready in November 1923.