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
I grew up in the Montclair District of Oakland, CA. I attended Thornhill Elementary School, Montera Junior High, Skyline High School, and spent some time at Merritt College.
I lived in Montclair until I was a young adult, and since then, I have lived by Lake Merritt, in the Fruitvale District, on Piedmont Ave, the King Estates Area, and now the Laurel District.
Since going on an Oakland Heritage Alliance Tour of the Fernwood Neighborhood in the Montclair District of Oakland in about 1984, I have been an Oakland history buff ever since. On that tour, I learned a train (Sacramento Northern) ran through Montclair in the early 1900s and that people lived the area as early as the 1860s — been hooked ever since. Since then, I have spent a lot of time looking into Montclair’s history, and I have learned a lot. I feel this will be the best way to get it out of my head and onto paper.
In 2018 I started this blog because I collected so much information on Oakland’s history and couldn’t wait to share. Posting in Facebook groups isn’t the best outlet for me. I love sharing what I know and reading what others share. But things get lost on Facebook.
With my dear friend Phil, I got started, and I was off and running. It should be easy, I say to myself, because, in my mind, I had already laid out actual pages and everything I wanted to say.
But it wasn’t.
I tend to get bogged down in the details. I worry about getting my facts correct. It is hard for me to find a happy medium between too much and too little. So, this is a work in progress, so bear with me.
I hope you will enjoy history as much as I do!
Down The Hole, I Go
But I have strayed from the topic of this post. Often when researching one thing, you find something else that has nothing to do with what you are looking for, but it piques your interest. That happens to me a lot.
You might know this as the “Internet rabbit hole” you see when you try to research one thing, and then accidentally go to Wikipedia, and then you are trying to find out what happened to Jimmy Hoffa? That is it in a nutshell.
One rabbit hole I get sucked into often is I will see a picture like this one and want to know more about it.
Is it still there?
Those two things can be very hard as sometimes the location is very vague and wrong. Sometimes the location is correct. When looking up the house, I am curious as to who the house was built for, were they famous or rich, maybe both?
I have compiled a lot of these pictures of newly built houses. I decided to create a map using Google Maps. The map I have created is “What was there or still is… Oakland, California”.
I have already added lots of the homes that I have found while down in the rabbit hole.
What was there or still is… Oakland California
Description of the Map
Some from long ago and long gone, but some are still there. Based on clippings, newspapers, and photos. May not be accurate as address numbers have changed, and locations were often vague
Maroon – Still there Black – Gone Yellow – Landmark Green – Berkeley Purple – Piedmont Red – Questions – researching
Here is a link to the map. Click on it to see. Please feel free to share it.
I still have lots of pages in the works; just have to get myself out of this hole.
In the 1940’s Montgomery Wards, though it’s building services department sold pre-fab homes to be made by local contractors. They would supply everything necessary to build your home.
“The Ward Way method of building and furnishing is a simplified system of obtaining built to order home,” states Ralph Jarvis Ward-Way representative – Oakland Tribune Oct 27, 1940
I was able to find information 10 or so homes built “The Ward-Way.” I am basing this solely on what I see in the Oakland Tribune. So, with that in mind, my list might not be perfect due to errors in the paper. I am not perfect, either. If possible, I have included a picture of the house as it is today. All these homes were built in 1940.
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.