Posted in Buildings, East Oakland, Elmhurst

Lockwood Gardens

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.

Oakland Tribune June 28, 1875

The site of Lockwood Gardens was once the extensive estate of William Cluff Jr. a wholesale grocer of some prominence in the early days.

The Site

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.

project plans by Carl Warnecke, OHR 

Planning Stages

The proposed housing development that would become Lockwood Gardens was met with protest. The major complaints were as follows.

Oakland Tribune April 10, 1941

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.

Oakland Tribune Mar 06, 1941
Newly constructed Lockwood Gardens public housing development in the Havenscourt district of Oakland,

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.

Oakland Tribune Feb 03, 1944

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.

Oakland Tribune Feb 03, 1944

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.

Oakland Tribune Feb 03, 1944

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.

Neighborhood Tenants Committees
Mrs. Mollie Thorner, Secretary

The Later Years

Oakland Tribune Jul 16, 1968
Oakland Tribune Jul 16, 1968
Oakland Tribune Dec 25, 1970

Even Later

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.

Rappers such as G-Stack, Tuffy, Yukmouth and the late Rap-A-Lot Records artist Seagram Miller all claim The Vill home. World Heritage Encyclopedia

Demolish or Rehabilitation

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.

Lockwood Gardens Today
Lockwood Gardens – Google Maps

More Info:


The End

Posted in East Oakland, History, Oakland, West Oakland

Backyard Fence War

In June of 1965, the Oakland Housing Authority (OHA) began what was called a “Beautification Program.”

Under the housing authority’s plan, fenced-in yards were to be removed and replaced with turfed areas in the following projects:

  1. Lockwood Gardens
  2. Peralta Villas
  3. Campbell Village.

According to the tenants of the Peralta Villa housing projects in West Oakland, they first heard about the program when the group of boys from the Alameda County Central Labor Council (funded by a grant from the War on Poverty) started demolishing the backyard fences and flower gardens.

The fences were removed, Housing Authority officials say, as the first step in a program of “beautification”

The tenants were irate because some had paid the OHA for the fences and planted their gardens. No advance notice was given – the workers just started tearing everything up.

They Organize

The War on Poverty ran into a major obstacle this week – the War on Poverty”

Oakland Tribune June 30, 1965

Oakland Tribune June 30, 1965

As a part of the War on Poverty‘s, a work-study program was funded to provide the salaries of University of California students to work with the tenants.

The students worked with the residents of Lockwood Gardens to help them develop a sense of community identity and to learn how to help themselves.

It was these students that encouraged the tenants to form the Lockwood Improvement League.

The program funded by the War on Poverty the same people supporting the “Beautification Program” and removing their fences.

The tenants of Peralta Villas met at Cole school and formed the Peralta Improvement League. Thirty tenants volunteered to create their own “human fence” they wrote up a list of demands and began their fight to save their gardens.

  1. Stop tearing down the remaining fences
  2. Rebuild the fences already taken down
  3. Reimburse the tenants whose private property was destroyed
  4. Consult the tenants first before doing any further work

Oakland Tribune July 1965

The labor for the “Beautification Program” was provided by the Alameda County Labor Council through a grant from the War of Poverty.

Lockwood Gardens

The OHA decided on June 25, 1965, to “beautify” the projects. They started with Lockwood Gardens.

The people of Lockwood Gardens newfound sense of community identity was outraged.

Each of the thirty- plus dwelling units in Lockwood Gardens had its own yard, and most had fences. Some had lawns, and some had shrubs and flowers.

The enclosed yards gave the tenants a sense of individuality, security, and pride.

All backyard fences would come out; the lawns, shrubs, and flowers would be dugout. A common turf area without fences would replace private yards.

Oakland Tribune June 30, 1965

They had been using my yard as adverstiment for years.”

Jim Sorenson 1137 65th Ave – Oakland Tribune

Jim Sorenson 1137 65th Ave – Oakland Tribune

Oakland Tribune June 30, 1965

They were also upset by the lack of advance warning. They got 200 signature in favor of keeping the fences.

The Lockwood Gardens tenants were all for beautification but not at the expense of their backyards. One tenant was upset because he had just rebuilt his fence. Not all the tenants of the tenants took care of yards or kept their fences in repair. But they felt the OHA could work it out with those tenants.

The Protests

The tenants of both Peralta Villa and Lockwood Gardens protested and managed to halt or limit the amount of work that could be done at either of the projects.

Oakland Tribune July 13, 1965

The OHA laid out a new backyard fence policy

Residents must keep their backyards neat and in repair; no new fences could be installed; no satisfactory fence will be torn down now, but eventual elimination of all fenced areas can be expected.”

In August of 1965, the OHA board voted to poll each family of Campbell Village, Lockwood Gardens, and Peralta Villa if they want a fence. Everyone was to be asked even the people who lived on the 2nd floor. There was a total of 916 total units in the three projects.

The tenants were given 2 choices in the questions asked :

Oakland Tribune Sep 01, 1965

It appears to be a lower-the-cost- maintenance program”

The Pro-Fence group leader

The Pro-Fence group leader

In July 1966, all the fences had been removed, and the place looked like a dump reported one tenant. The lawn was dead in most areas as it wasn’t being watered.

More on the Beautification Program

  1. Program Stumbles on Its Own Results – Oakland Tribune June 30, 1965
  2. Battle of Backyard Fences on New Front – Oakland Tribune July 02, 1965
  3. Battle of Backyard Fences – Pg 2 – Oakland Tribune July 02, 1965
  4. Peralta Villa Folk in Fence Victory – Oakland Tribune July 04, 1965
  5. Back Fence War Halts in Standoff – Oakland Tribune July 12, 1965
  6. Back Fence War Halts in Standoff Pg. 2 – Oakland Tribune July 12, 1965
  7. New Tactics Ease Backyard Fence War – Oakland Tribune July 13, 1965
  8. Anti-Poverty War needs Tighter Control – Oakland Tribune Aug 01, 1965
  9. Pro-Fence Forces Get Poll on the Issue – Oakland Tribune Aug 10, 1965
  10. Battle of the Backyard Fences Pg 1 – Oakland Tribune Sep 01, 1965
  11. Battle of the Backyard Fences Pg 2 – Oakland Tribune Sep 01, 1965
  12. Beautification Fencing Match – Oakland Tribune July 13, 1966

The End