Posted in East Oakland

Lion Statues at the Oakland Zoo

Oakland Tribune May 11. 1963

In 1962 a pair of lions statues were removed from their perch guarding the Alameda County Hall of Records since about 1875. The county board of supervisors agreed the statutes should be entrusted to Knowland State Park, where they were placed at the zoo entrance.

Oakland Tribune May 08, 1963

Thought to be Stone

“Most everyone believed they were stone or concrete underneath the paint,” Razeto said. “But tap them, and they ring…like a bell.”

Oakland Tribune May 11, 1963

Old photographs indicate the lions were an integral part of the original Victorian design, including two front lion wall plaques (removed before 1930)and a dozen bearded gargoyles at the eaves.

Oakland Tribune March 11, 1964

Old Hall of Records

The Hall of Records was erected in 1875. The hall sit had been the parade ground of the Oakland Guard from 1865. Architect Henry H. Meyers designed the ornate hall complete with entrance columns, leaded glass windows, and a grand rotunda.

Hall of Records updated Oakland History Room

A south wing was added in 1900 and a north wing in 1916. It was remodeled in 1945 when the welfare and school departments moved there.

In 1957 it was determined that nothing more could be added to the building without it collapsing.

In 1964 the Old Hall of Records was demolished to make room for the new $2.5 million Probation Center.

Today

For years the lions were greeting people as they entered the Zoo. I bet thousands of kids and adults had had a picture taken of them sitting on one the lions. I know I did. Sadly, the lions no longer greet people as they have been moved from their prominent perch to the exit area.

Lion Statues at the Oakland Zoo – Lion Statues on Waymarking.com
Lion Statues at the Oakland Zoo – Lion Statues on Waymarking.com
Lion Statues at the Oakland Zoo – Lion Statues on Waymarking.com

From the plaque:

original iron lions, which guarded the entrance to the County Hall of Records since 1880 placed here in 1963 by the Board of Supervisors of Alameda County.

More Info:

Lion Statues at the Oakland Zoo – Lion Statues on Waymarking.com

The End

Posted in Homes, People

Fountain of Serenity

Updated March 19, 2020

Oakland Tribune Aug 31, 1958

Fountain of Serenity in Knowland State Arboretum and Park. “Serena,” the statue which tops the fountain, inspires calm and courage in the face of worldly troubles.   Oakland Tribune 

Oakland Tribune Aug 31, 1958

Oakland Tribune Aug 31, 1958

Previous Location

Oakland Tribune Apr 29, 1962

The fountain once graced the gardens of the home of James H. Latham. Latham purchased the land in 1878 from Samuel B. Merritt.

Latham sold the home to Horace H. Seaton in 1885, who sold it, S. Murray, in 1892, who then sold it to  Edward G. Lukens in 1897. Lukens, son, was state Senator George R. Lukens.

Oakland Tribune 1898

In its heyday, the old mansion was a showplace. The home was a three-story structure with 25 rooms, a billiard room, a glass conservatory, and a bowling alley in the rear. There was also an ornate two-story barn with a hayloft and with horse stalls.

Undated – the fountain closer to the right side of the photo.

The Lukens family lived there until the death of Mrs. Emma Lukens in 1925.

Sometime after the death of Mrs. Lukens, the mansion was purchased by Edger L. Buttnera civic leader, and electrical contractor.

Oakland Tribune Jan 22, 1928
Oakland Tribune Jan 22, 1928

Oakland Tribune Jan 22, 1928

Barn/Livery Stable

In about 1938, Raoul Pause, a leading Oakland ballet teacher, converted part of the old two-story barn into a ballet studio. Many of the Oakland Ballet’s first dancers were students of Raoul Pause., he was the brother of Paul Pause of Montclair Reality.

In October of 1948, the building was damaged in a fire.

In 1952 the same building was destroyed by another fire.  At the time of the fire, the building was being used by the Hotel Senator (a boarding house) as a garage.

In 1957 the mansion was demolished to make room for an apartment complex.

Oakland Tribune May 17, 1957
Oakland Tribune June 02, 1957

The Fountain Today

The Latham-Ducel Fountain is the centerpiece of Preservation Park. It’s more popularly known as the Diana Fountain. The fountain is cast iron and was forged in Paris in the 1870s.

Latham-Ducel fountain
photo CC-A from Our Oakland

Latham-Ducel fountain
photo CC-A from Our Oakland

My question is that Serena or Diana on the top of the fountain?

More Info:

Western Fuse Company Explosion

E.G. Lukens was the owner of  Western Fuse and Explosives Company.  See Oakland Local Wiki – 

Oakland Tribune Jul 19, 1898

Latham Square Fountain

The Latham Square Fountain is located at the intersection of Telegraph and Broadway in downtown Oakland. It was erected in 1913 as a memorial for James H. Latham and Henrietta Latham by their children and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

SF Call 1913

The End.

Posted in Buildings, East Oakland, Elmhurst, History, People

Edenvale – The Talbot Estate

From Eden of the Pacific, Oakland Tribune 1898

1857 – 1888:  Ellis A Haines  purchased the property from the Peralta’s

In 1888,  Frederick C. Talbot of the San Francisco lumber firm of Pope & Talbot purchased 133- acres from  Ellis A. Haines in Elmhurst near San Leandro and adjacent to the Souther Farm ( now the Dunsmuir Home) for $15,000.

San Francisco Chronicle Jul 28, 1888

Oakland Tribune Jul 30,1888

Depending on who wrote it or what you read, the total acreage seems to change. Above you will see in one clipping has the entire area as “133- acres “and, in the other, it as “153 -acres.” It has been as high as 453 acres. I have always understood it to be the same land that both the Oakland Zoo and Knowland Park, but who really knows?

Oakland Tribune Aug 08, 1890

Oakland Tribune Sept 14, 1888

Edenvale –

Nestled in the hills surrounded by the choicest fruits and flowers, “Edenvale,” as the name suggests, is a veritable paradise.

The estate was 140-acres (different acreage) of fertile land used for farming and orchards. 60 acres were planted with almonds, cherries, oranges, walnuts, lemons, prunes, apricots, peaches, and olives. 80 acres of choice farming land.

Talbot Home –
Cheney Photo Advertising
C 1915

View of Edenvale from the hillside
Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History 

OutWest
A Magazine – Of The Old Pacific and The New
Page 125 -July 1907

In the picture, you can see the caretaker’s home in the back (the taller one). This house is still standing today.

The garden was laid out with rare trees and a variety of plants and lighted pathways. There was a large pond with a bridge the crossed it. The pond was large enough for a small rowboat.

The main house was a modern elegant colonial structure of 12 rooms, with 4 baths running water and gas throughout. It Burned down in 1921.

There was a large modern stable, a greenhouse, servants quarters. There was a home for the caretaker, which is still standing today. A brooder for chickens and pen for pigs. Oakland Tribune Mar 22, 1902

Unknown Talbot Family Members at EdenVale c 189?
Photo by I.W. Taber
Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History 

Barn Burns –

San Francisco Dec 21, 1901

Oakland Tribune May 18,1900

Talbot Farm for Sale

Oakland Tribune March 10, 1902

Town Talk March 22, 1902
Note it is 140 acres

Meanwhile…

R.C. “Cliff” Durant Purchases Estate

Durant purchases the Talbot estate “Edenvale.” The estate comprised of 470-acres (different acreage) and sold for $200,000.

Oakland Tribune Nov 25, 1919

San Francisco Examiner Feb 08, 1920

The above says  “478-acres” and below says “200-acres”.

Oakland Tribune Nov 23, 1919

Oakland Tribune Dec 21, 1921

A Map showing the location of R.C Durants/F.C. Talbots Mansion

Oakland Tribune 1921

The Estate Becomes A Park

In 1929 the city of Oakland council voted to purchase the former country estate of the late F.C. Talbot from the Park Commission. The 350-acres ( different acreage) would cost the city approximately $662,000. That deal fell through. The whole story is confusing. Durant Park opened to the public in 1932.

Oakland Tribune April 19, 1929

In 1935 Sidney Snow took possession of the 475-acre (different acreage) Durant Park and started building the zoo.  He ran it with some help from the city of Oakland. – From A History as Told by the Founder’s Daughter”

In 1937 Durant Park is now called the Zoological Gardens and Arboretum of Metropolitan Oakland.


Durant Park 1937
Durant Park – Press Photo 1937
Durant Park Talbot estate
Durant Park – Press Photo 1937

Oakland Tribune May 22, 1950
To read the entire article go here: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/54743134/durant-park-in-east-oakland-becomes/

In 1950 Durant park is dedicated as the “East Bay State Park” under the California park system. In a dedication speech, it was noted the there were many trees and plants from F.C Talbot estate, and they were included in the Historical Arboretum, which is a separate park from the Oakland Zoo.


Oakland Tribune Mar 31, 1937

Oakland Tribune 1957
The row of Canary Island Palms

A row of mature Canary Island Date Palms marks the part entry. Stately Mexican Fan Palms, Chilean Palms, and exotic Bunya Bunya trees from Australia dot the formal meadows of the existing picnic grounds. These Arboretum’s specimens were planted at the turn of the last century (I bet before that) as part of the Talbot Estate grounds. There is also a collection of 8 species of palms, native and exotic oaks, redwoods, and many other specimens from North Africa, the Himalayas, Chile, and the Canary Islands. – From the Zoo Master Plan 1996

In 1951 the park was renamed “Joseph Knowland State Arboretum and Park.” Now called Knowland State Arboretum and Park and the Oakland Zoo.

In 1962 a fire destroyed the building that had been home to Effie, the elephant until 1959. The building had been marked unsafe. The building was built in 1890, was part of the Talbot Estate.

The Estate Today

On the map below, the sizeable red square shows where most of the estate was. The smaller green box shows the location of the caretaker home that was apart of the Talbot Estate. When Sidney Snow ran the zoo, he and his family lived there. Now is it used by zoo employees. The meadow by the main gate still has some of the trees planted by Talbot over 100 years ago. They are part of the Knowland State Arboretum and Park. I need to check this out.

From the Zoo Master Plan 1996

Sidney Snow’s Home
Circa 1939

Google Map 2019 showing the caretakers home still standing in Knowland Park

More Info:

A couple of things:

I am working on getting copies of the real photos as opposed to copies from a report.

I am also checking on what’s up with the Knowland State Arboretum and Park. Does it still exist?

I know on real crowded days they allow parking on the meadow, where some of the historic trees still stand.

The End

Posted in History, West Oakland

A Forgotten Tunnel…

I recently found an article from 1961 about the discovery of an underground tunnel on what was the MacDermont Mansion in West Oakland. This is what I discovered looking into the mansion.

MacDermot MansionOakland Local wiki

Forgotten Tunnel Revives Dimming Memories

In 1961 the Peralta Villa, a 20-year-old WWII housing unit, was being demolished to make room for new low rent apartments. They were located in the area bounded by 7th, 8th, Center and Cypress Streets. Oakland Tribune March 23, 1961

While clearing the land, a workman discovered a concrete-lined tunnel long forgotten and never recorded on the city records.

Was it a WWII bomb shelter? Did rum runners use it during prohibition?

The guesses proved to be wrong but an exciting story.

The Tunnel

The tunnel (built between 1905 -1910) was the work of Louis MacDermot, the son of a prominent early Oakland family who owned the land. Their home (1407 8th St) was built sometime before 1876 (some say it could have been the French consul). Charles F. MacDermont’s name appears on title records as early as 1870.  The home was a showplace with landscaped grounds covering the entire block.   In the 1920s, the city proposed buying the site for a park, but the plan fell through. The home stood empty and decaying behind a wooden fence until 1941 when it was razed to make way for the war-time housing. The tunnel went undetected then.

t9uc1b39gr2e1mdc
The MacDermont Property 1407 8th Street Oakland CA

The concrete-lined tunnel ran across the stable yards from the brick boiler room near the family home to a machine shop. It was about 3 feet wide and 4 1/2 feet high. There were L-shaped hooks with oval rollers embedded on the sides.  Conductors for electrical wire had been installed on the ceiling.  The hooks apparently held steam lines which heat the machine shop.

Partial View of the Machine Shop at 1407 8th Street, Oakland
Partial View of the Machine Shop at 1407 8th Street, Oakland – ppie100.org

The man who built Railroads – the small ones

louis 1901
Louis MacDermot- 1901 -From the ppie.org

Railroad buffs might know the name Louis MacDermot. He built miniature railroads. He and his mechanics designed locomotives, freight cars, and coaches in great detail.

carraig
From the ppie100.org

In 1913, he was awarded the concession to build and operate an intramural railway at the Panama Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) due to open in February 1915. He started construction in his backyard.  The first completed locomotive was the working engine No. 1500, an 0-6-0T type.

Engine No 1500 – ready to be moved

Swanton Pacific Railroad Society Newsletter January 2012

The Overfair Railway that ran along the Marina between Fort Mason and the Presidio. A 10 cent fare provided transportation to the Polo Field, State / Foreign buildings, California Building, Exhibit Palaces, Yacht Harbor, and The Zone.

Altoona_Tribune_Wed__Mar_10__1915_
March 1915

Over open Railway on the Marina –  San Francisco Bay -1915 –SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY.

Over open Railway on the Marina –  San Francisco Bay -1915 –SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY CENTER, SAN FRANCISCO PUBLIC LIBRARY.

The Decline of the MacDermot Estate

After the fair, MacDermot became a recluse and stayed on the deteriorating grounds of the family’s Oakland mansion.

Old house of Chas. McDermott N. E. corner 7th and Center Sts. Oakland.
Showing one of the old cars used in the
Panama Pacific World’s Fair at San Francisco in 1915
Jesse Brown Cook Collection
Bancroft Library

Unfortunately, this fate was also shared by the Overfair Railway wooden passenger and freight cars.  The locomotives had the luxury of spending their “retirement” in sheds. The others did not fare so well.

MacDermont Home C 1930
MacDermot  Estate c 1940 -Swanton Pacific Railroad

Another photo of the MacDermot home with one of the cars in the yard – OMCA

Swanton Pacific Railroad Society Newsletter January 2012

In 1941 he agreed to build the “The Mountain Lion Railway” for the Oakland Zoo. He moved three engines and the twelve best passenger cars to the Alameda County Zoological Gardens (today’s Oakland Zoo).  Beginning on August 1, 1941, with two cars running behind a forlorn No. 1913, the operation started.  The faithful Pacific had lost both its boiler jacket and its leading truck, relegating No. 1913 to the status of a 0-6-2.  The Overfair equipment had substantially deteriorated, and MacDermot increasingly erratic behavior soon forced the Zoo’s management to eject the railway.  Please see – Swanton Pacific Railroad Society Newsletter January 2008

Oakland_Tribune_Sun__Nov_10__1940_
Oakland Tribune November 11, 1940
MacDermot and Sid Snow 1941
Oakland Tribune 1941

Louis MacDermot with Sid Snow – 1941 from the  Swanton Pacific Railroad Society Newsletter – February 2004

Moving Day 1940 or 1941 and Overfair train coming up the grade at the Oakland Zoo with Sid Snow’s home in the background – (which I believe is from the Talbot Estate and not the Durant Estate as noted) from the  Swanton Pacific Railroad Society Newsletter December 2007

Lost Dream

Oakland_Tribune_Sun__Jan_25__1959_.jpg
Oakland Tribune Jan 1959
Oakland_Tribune_Tue__Aug_27__1968_
Oakland Tribune 1968
Oakland_Tribune_Sun__Jan_5__1969_
Oakland Tribune 1969

The railroad lives on

Swanton Pacific Railroad in Davenport CA

The Swanton Pacific Railroad serves as an operational memorial to Al Smith, who acquired and relocated the trains to the Swanton Pacific Ranch. The rolling stock consists of three one-third scale Pacific-type steam locomotives that were built for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, a diesel switcher locomotive, and a variety of passenger and maintenance railcars.

 Cal Poly’s Live Steam Railroad –  Swanton Pacific Railroad

For more on the railroad – 

The End