Posted in Black History, People, Schools, West Oakland

Oakland: The Mellow City

I love Oakland with much of my heart. I look forward to Oakland’s change, growth, virtue, and beauty in the years of the future, glorifying past and forgone years.

My dream is that people who read this book of our city will also strive for a more wonderful Oakland.

By: Jacqueline Taylor

Oakland Tribune 1969

Oakland, The Mellow City Week

By official proclamation of Mayor John Reading Sunday, October 12, 1969, was the first day of:

“Oakland, The Mellow City Week.”

Oakland Tribune Oct 1969

The observation honored more than 200 eighth-grade authors and artists who produced a book about their home city.

“The Mellow City” was researched and illustrated in the spring of 1968 under the guidance of teachers from Hoover Junior High.

Oakland Tribune Oct 1969

Students were asked to base their work on the response to one question:  

“If you were to develop a book to help other students learn about Oakland, what would you include”?

Oakland Tribune

After six weeks of intensive work, they had 76 pages of essays, poems, and more than 50 original watercolors and pen and ink illustrations.

Oakland Tribune Feb 1969

Financing

Money for the project which required field trips, camera equipment, and teacher time was available through Elementary Secondary Education Act funding.

The Oakland Junior League voted to underwrite the expense of printing 2,500 copies.

Sample Page

The students also worked with printers in selecting the paper, typeface and cover design, including

The Cover
  • Jacqueline Taylor
  • Wanda White
  • Valerie Hickman
  • Marvin Miles
  • LaTanya Johnson
  • Glenda Walker
  • Coynell Smith
Oakland Tribune Oct 1969
Sample Page

More Info:

The book is still available (July 2020) to purchase at:

  • Oakland: The Mellow City – Amazon
  • Oakland: The Mellow City – ebay
  • Oakland: The Mellow City – biblio
  • Oakland: The Mellow City – abebooks

The End

Posted in Schools, Then and Now, West Oakland

Then & Now – McClymonds High School

In 1951 the students referred to their alma mater as:

the school that couldn’t stay still.”

Oakland Tribune 1951

In the first 36 years, the school changed location five times and gone by eight different names.

A Bit of History

In January 1915, McClymonds High School started in a small building formerly occupied by Oakland Technical High School at 12th and Market with sixty students. Originally called the Vocational High School and was the first public school in California to offer vocational training.

J.W. McClymonds directly inspired the organization of the school, superintendent of the Oakland Schools between 1889-1913 (Oakland Tribune Mar 09, 1924), and the name was changed to McClymonds Vocational School.

In 1924 the school was moved to a new building at 26th and Myrtle, and its name was changed to J.W. McClymonds High School.  

It became just plain McClymonds High in 1927. The building was condemned in 1933, and classes were moved to Durant School.  

In 1936 McClymonds High School and Lowell Junior High School were merged to form a new high school on Lowell Site at 14th and Myrtle Streets. McClymonds High thereby became a four-year high school.

 In 1938 the name changed from J.W. McClymonds to Lowell-McClymonds, then in July of the year to McClymonds-Lowell High School

Finally, in September 1938, they moved back to the old site at 26th and Myrtle Streets after the buildings were reconstructed at the cost of $330,000. The alumni won out, and once again it was McClymonds High School as it is today.

Dedication

The new high school occupying the entire block at 26th and Myrtle Streets, erected at the cost of $660,000 was dedicated in March of 1924.

The school was named in honor of J.W McClymondswho had died two years earlier. The ceremony was held on Mar 09, 1924.

Oakland Tribune 1924

McClymonds High School was completed in 1924 as a part of the school building program of 1919.   The new building contained 35 classrooms, 11 shops, administrative offices, storerooms, science, millinery, and art rooms and an auditorium with a seating capacity of 1000. There were shops for forge work, auto repair, machine work, pattern making, woodworking, electrical engineering, and printing. The machinery in the shops costs several thousands of dollars.

Mcclymonds High School – undated
Oakland History Room

Millinery Courses 

The milliner’s art “so dear to the hearts of the fair sex” was introduced as a course for girls in schools of Oakland. Mcclymonds had a shop with machinery for fabricating and molding the millinery.

  

“The girls are virtually flocking to the new course, which teaches the latest in chic, feminine headgear.”

Oakland Tribune

Out With The Old

Oakland Tribune 1951
Oakland Tribune 1951
Oakland Tribune 1951

New School

Oakland Tribune 1951

In 1954 a new three-story reinforced concrete structure was dedicated.  

The structure designed for 1200 students and contains 42 classrooms, an auditorium, cafeteria, and library. Corlett and Anderson of Oakland were the architects.

The auditorium is in the two-story south wing and classes in the three-story building.

A class of 75 students was the first to graduate from the new McClymonds High in 1954.

New Gym

The Old Gymnasium – 1928

In 1953 the old gym was condemned as an earthquake hazard and wasn’t replaced until 1957.

The new Gymnasium 1956

The new gym was the first Oakland school building to be built with tilt-up wall construction in which concrete wall sections are poured flat on the ground then raised into place.

Folding bleachers will seat 875 spectators. A folding partition will divide the main gymnasium into boys and girls for physical education classes.

The building also included an exercise room, shower and locker rooms, first-aid rooms, instructor’s office, and storage areas. Ira Beals designed it at the cost of $427,000.

McClymonds Field Dedicated – 1960

Oakland Tribune 1963

The new $625,095 track and field facilities was touted as one of the finest in the East Bay when the it was dedication ceremony was held.

The new tennis courts adjacent to the gym were dedicated to the memory of Earl M. Swisher, a former teacher, and tennis coach.

The Field Today – google maps

In 1964 three McCLymonds High School seniors drowned in the icy waters of Strawberry Lake in Tuolumne County.  

Oakland Tribune 1964

The victims were:

  • Gloria Curry – Age 17
  • Carolyn Simril – Age 17
  • Melvin Lee Moore – Age 16

The trip was for the about 150 students called “honor citizens” because of outstanding community and school service.

Pinecrest Lake 1964

Most of the students were on the ski slopes, and sled runs at Dodge Ridge. Between 15 and 20 of them were on the frozen lake when the ice gave away.

The students said there were no signs on the lake warning of thin or rotten ice.

A heroic rescue by three boys and two men saved the lives of at least ten students when the ice broke about 150 yards from the shore.

Carolyn Simril died while trying to pull somebody out and fell in herself.

Feb 1965

A large crowd waited in front of Mcclymonds High for the three buses to return. They knew that three students had drowned, but they didn’t know who they were.

More Info:

Oakland Tribune 1930
Oakland Tribune 1930
Oakland Tribune 1960
Photo by Joanne Leonard
circa 1964
Gift of the artist in honor of Therese Thau Heyman
2003.139.35

McClymonds Today

McClymonds High School is a highly valued icon of the West Oakland community as it is the only full-sized OUSD High School in the region. It is located near the intersection of Market Street & San Pablo Avenue in the Clawson neighborhood, which contains a mix of residential and commercial development with a handful of industrial yards

The school is located at 2607 Myrtle Street Oakland, CA 94607

More Info:

The End

Posted in Black History, East Oakland, People, West Oakland

African American Women’s Clubs

During the later part of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th black women in Oakland established clubs and institutions to address the growing demands of the black community.

I will highlight some of them here.

Fanny Jackson Coppin Club

The Fanny Jackson Coppin Club was founded in 1899 by members of the Beth Eden Baptist Church

Colored Directory 1917

Not failure, but low aim is the crime.

Motto

The club was named in honor of Fannie Jackson Coppin (1837-1913) who was born a slave in Washington, D.C. and became a renowned educator 

Fannie Jackson Coppin

The Fannie Jackson Coppin Club is known as the “mother club” of the African American women’s club movement in California. 

At first, the club’s priority was to provide African American travelers who could not stay at segregated hotels welcoming places to spend a night.

The club was involved with the creation of the Home for the Aged and Infirm Colored People in Oakland, to provide care for elderly African Americans in the state of California.

Oakland Tribune June 26, 1959
California Club Journal 1973

Art and Industrial Club

In 1906, a branch of the Art and Industrial Club was formed and devoted itself to the arts and to “uplift of the race.”

Deeds Not Words”

Motto
Colored Directory 1917

Mother’s Charity Club

Founded in 1907

Lift as We Climb”

Motto

The Mother’s Charity Club was founded in 1907. They were dedicated to philanthropic endeavors. During its earliest years of activity, the Mother’s Charity Club fed and cared for many children and sick and needy persons.

Colored Directory 1917
1959-60

Elmhurst Progressive Club

The Elmhurst Progressive Club was founded in 1912.

Progressive

Motto
Colored Directory 1917
Oakland Tribune 1914

Imperial Art and Literary Club

The Imperial Art and Literary of Oakland was founded in 1912. They provided charity and promoted art and literary work.

Love and Truth

Motto
Colored Directory 1917
Oakland Tribune 1931
California Club Journal 1973

Self Improvement Club

Self Improvement Club of Oakland was founded in 1916. Their goal was to improve humanity and the surrounding communities.

He who is true to God, is true to Man”

Colored Directory 1917

Rhododendron Self Cultured Club of Oakland

The Rhododendron Club was formed in the early 1950s

Like Ivy we Climb–Lifting as we Climb

Four women holding presents at the Rhododendron Club fashion show at Slim Jenkins

Rhododendron Club fashion show contestants posing at Slim Jenkins

Fidelis Art and Culture Business Women’s Club of Oakland

California Club Journal 1973

The Art Social Club of Oakland

California Club Journal 1973

Royal 10 Society Club of Oakland

I only found this photo. I will update if I find more.

Members of the Royal 10 Social Club attending Hawaiian-themed luau party
Undated
African American Museum

Linden Street YWCA

In 1920, a group of African American clubwomen formed The Linden Street branch of the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA). 

They provided religious training, counseling services, vocational training, art classes, adult education classes, and all types of cultural events. 

 Located at 828 Linden Street, the branch was housed in a two-story building with four club rooms.

By 1938, the Linden Street “Y” had a membership of over 750.

In 1944 following a new national policy, the board of directors of the central Oakland YWCA integrated the Linden Street YWCA.

“to make its program available to all women and girls irrespective of race, creed, or color.

It was renamed the West Oakland Center of the YWCA. The two-story building was razed in the early 1960s

Group portrait of Les Elites Industrial Club Linden Branch Y.W.C.A

More Info:

I will add to this if I find more.

The End

Posted in Black History, People, Transportation, West Oakland

Oakland’s First African American Cab Driver

Phillip Richard Springer (1874-1952) was the first black man in Oakland to own a taxicab. He was born in Barbados, in the British West Indies and left home at age 16. At first he operated under a jitney permit in Oakland, but he later had the license changed to a taxicab permit. By 1915, Springer’s Cab Company was well established.

The Pullman Porters and West Oakland

The 1916 Directory listed Springer at 1926 Chestnut Street with chauffeur as his occupation

1916
1926 Chestnut – Google Maps

In the 1917 directory, he is listed at 835 Union Street with chauffeur as his occupation.

1917

In the 1925 directory, he is listed along with his wife Edna at 879 Campbell Street with taxi cab driver as his occupation.

1925

From 1927 until his death in 1952, he lived at 957-35th Street with his family. The 1930 census reports that he owns his home, and he was a taxi cab driver at his own stand.

1935
The Springer Home from 1927-at least 1952
957- 35th Street – Google Maps
Exhibit at the African American History Library Oakland
Oakland Tribune Nov 1952

Taxicab Driver Robbed

Oakland Tribune 1942
SF Examiner Jan 1947

Accident

The End

Posted in East Oakland, Schools, Then and Now, West Oakland

Then & Now Oakland Schools – Part 17

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 — some are a work in progress. I have been updating my posts when I find something new. Let me know of any mistakes or additions.

Bella Vista Elementary School

The original Bella Vista Annex
2410 -10th Avenue

“Bella Vista was a name once given to a two-teacher school of the primary standing.’ This school will become an annex of the new “Bella Vista School.”

In 1924 the Bella Vista School moved to the “Old” Intermediate School No. 1 at 1930 12th Avenue.

From the Views Oakland

The Old Bella Vista school was located at 13th Avenue and East 19th Street. The building that was being torn down in 1951 traced its lineage back to 1863 when the first school on the site was built by the Brooklyn school district. When the Brooklyn school was annexed by the Oakland system, the school became the Franklin school formally but was known by the residents as the East Oakland school. Later it was renamed the A.W. Swett School (see Then & Now Oakland Schools Part 2)

Showing 1906 Earthquake Damage

The building in the above clipping was built in 1892. It was described as a “well-planned building of nine-rooms.” The building cost $52,952 and was designed by Howard Burns. In the 1912 Swett School was renamed the Intermediate School Number One, and 12 years later, in 1924, it became the Bella Vista School, and the name is held at the time it was condemned in 1934.

After the condemnation, only part of the building was in use until the new school was built in 1951.

New School and Location

Oakland Tribune

The new school building is located on East 28th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues a few blocks from the old site.

Oakland Tribune 1949

In October of 1949, construction began on the new $538,213 Bella Vista School.

Reynolds and Chamberlain designed the building.

The new building has:

  • 17 Classrooms
  • A kindergarten
  • Cafeteria
  • Auditorium

Built for a capacity of 630 and is a two-story structure of concrete and steel.

Oakland Tribune Dec 10, 1950

The dedication was held on February 7th, 1951.

Bella Vista Today

The school is located at 1025 East 28th Street.

Google Maps

Bella Vista – OUSD photo

Bella Vista – OUSD photo
  • Bella Vista Website – OUSD
  • Bella Vista Oakland Local Wiki – page

More Info:

Glenview Elementary School

Glenview started as McChesney Annex School and was located at 13th Avenue and East 38th Avenue.

In 1924 the board approved a new school on a new site in the upper part of the district.

Oakland Tribune July 1927

The laying of the cornerstone was in January of 1927. The two-story mission-style building was ready in April of 1927.

  • Eleven Classrooms
  • Assembly Hall
  • Administration Offices

Locker-RoomsThe McChesney Annex name was changed to Glenview Elementary School in October of 1927.

Glenview Elementary school was formally dedicated in a ceremony with the Native Sons of California in November of 1927. The school cost about $110,000 and was designed by architects Williams & Wastell

Glenview School in 193
From the Brenkman Family

In 1938 the students were moved to portables while the main school building was reconstructed.

Oakland Tribune Aug 29, 1938

The school was ready for occupation in March of 1939.

Glenview Class of 1938
From the Brenkman Family

Glenview Baseball Team 1941
From the Brenkman Family

Glenview Today:

The school is located at 4215 La Cresta Avenue

New Campus: August 2020

New Campus

The new classroom building will also feature:

  • New Multipurpose room with a new stage
  • Storage under the step for chairs
  • Folding cafeteria tables
  • Striping for basketball for indoor physical Education
  • Modern and efficient plumbing, electric HVAC, and WiFi systems

Students at Glenview Elementary are currently being housed at the Santa Fe school site. At the same time, their new state-of-the-art facility is being built at its permanent location (4215 La Cresta Avenue) in the Glenview neighborhood.

More Info:

Harbor Homes School

No pictures of Harbor Homes School

Location of Harbor Homes

Harbor Homes School was located in the  Harbor Homes Housing Project. Harbor Homes Housing Project was a temporary housing project built by the federal government in 1943 during WWII.

When the war ended, the temporary housing remained. The board of Education decided there was a need for a temporary school for the children living there.

Oakland Tribune Nov 18, 1947

A school was constructed for $85,000, and 266 students enrolled for classes on Mar 9, 1948. In the beginning, the ten portables were heated by a pot-bellied coal-burning stove.

Oakland Tribune Mar 8, 1948

In 1951 Benjamin Hargrave was the first-ever African American principal of an Oakland Public school.

Oakland Tribune Feb 8, 1954

The school reached its peak enrollment in February of 1961 with 456 students. Over 4000 students passed through its doors in the 15 years it was opened.

Oakland Tribune Dec 29, 1960

Oakland Tribune February 8, 1963

The final day was Friday, February 8th, 1963. Mrs. Lillian Clancy held a class with just five students; Stanley Watts, 11; Earl Watts, 10; Steven Watts, 9; Lee Jones, 10; and Jackie Jones, 6. Charles Cline was the Principal

Oakland Tribune Feb 8, 1963

By June of 1963, all of the Harbor Homes buildings were gone, including the school.

More Info:

The address of the school was 1740 Ferro St

Washington School

In February of 1905, F.H. Danke’s bid of $3,100 for laying the cement foundation of the new Washington School was accepted by the board of Education.

Awards Contracts for Work

The Board of Education awarded contracts for the building of the Washington School to a variety of bidders. The list is as follows.

Brick and Stone Work P.J.Walker $20,799
Structural Steel Work Judson Manufacturing $5,551
Fire Proofing Roebling Const. $8,845
Galvanized Iron/Roof Pacific Ref. Roofing Co. $794
Plaster Work William Mehady $3,681
Tile Work Columbus Marble Co. $369.94
Plumbing Ingram Hardware Co. $1,507
Carpentry H.E. Brown & Co. $15,821
Painting W.H.Blake $1,913

They started building the school on Aug 31, 1905.

Before 1906

The new school was a ten-room two-story building, fire-proof throughout, constructed of red brick and terra cotta. The building was designed so that later additions can be made at either end, and when it was completed, it was to contain twenty-two class-rooms.

1906 Earthquake

The school still under construction sustained considerable damage in the 1906 earthquake.

In June of 1906, the school board reported they needed $100,000 to repair the damage and make the school earthquake-proof.
Judson Construction Company was re-awarded the contract to rebuild the ironwork and E.J. Walker for the brickwork.

In April of 1908, it was reported that the school would be ready in August.

Oakland Tribune August 1908

In 1927 a new $45,000 assembly hall was built.

Principal C.E. Hudspeth

C.E. Hudspeth was the principal of the school from 1905 until his retirement in 1942.

CE Hudspeth 1909

For recognition of his service, the auditorium was named Hudspeth Hall.

The Washington School Alumni Association was formed in 1939. They held annual get-togethers to discuss the old days.

Oakland Tribune 1951
Oakland Tribune Oct 16, 1963
Oakland Tribune 1913

The school after the new additions in 1913
Circa 1913

New School

Oakland Tribune 1951

A new two-story reinforced concrete structure designed by William E. Schirmer was built in 1952, costing $634,000.

  • Fourteen Classrooms
  •  Kindergarten
  •  Cafeteria
  •  Auditorium
  • Library

Oakland Tribune Dec 1953

Washington School Today – OUSD Photo

The school is located at 581 61st Street, Oakland, CA.

The school is called Kaiser-Sankofa.

Kaiser and Sankofa are two Oakland elementary schools that will be merging together into one school on the Sankofa campus starting in August 2020. To learn more about the two existing schools, you can visit the following sites.

More Info:

The End

Posted in Buildings, Oakland, People, Uncategorized, West Oakland

Thomas Mahoney House

As I take a little break from my series on the schools in Oakland, I thought I would share this little bit of history with you.

Historic American Buildings Survey, Creator. Thomas Mahoney House, 69 Eighth Street, Oakland, Alameda County, CA
. Documentation Compiled After. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/ca0013/>.

These photos have popped up many times over the years and, I didn’t give them much thought. They popped up again yesterday. I decided to look into them and see what I could find.

Historic American Buildings Survey, Creator. Thomas Mahoney House, 69 Eighth Street, Oakland, Alameda County, CA
. Documentation Compiled After. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/ca0013/>.

Both photos are online at the Library of Congress. Please note there is a typo in the LOC description the address is 669 Eighth Street.

  • Thomas Mahoney House – LOC

I don’t know what became of the house after these photos were taken. I will let you know if I find out anything.

Early Pioneer

So, I started looking into Thomas Mahoney (sometimes spelled Mahony) Wow, I was amazed to find a Thomas Mahoney living at 669 Eight Street in 1871. In the 1880 census, he lives there with his wife and four children. I then locate in an obituary from Jan of 1900. In the obituary, I notice his daughter Laura’s married name is Bassett

!8718 Directory
1888 Directory

Mahoney came to California in the 1850s. He mined for awhile in Tuolumne county before retiring on his ranch in Hills of Oakland. In 1863 he sold his ranch and moved to the home on Eighth Street next the St. John’s Episcopal He was married in 1863 and raised four children in the home. His wife died in 1891 and he died in 1900.

His obituary

Oakland Tribune Jan 29 1900

Thomas Mahoney a well known pioneer of this city, died at his home, 660
Eighth Street, last evening, in the 71st year of his age.

The deceased was a native of Ireland and came to this State many years ago, where he engaged in ranching. He owned a large quantity of land to the north of the present city limits, from which the sites now comprising Mountain View, St. Mary’s and the Jewish Cemeteries was purposed by the managers of those several burial places.

The deceased was a widower, his wife having died a number of years ago. He was the father of Mrs. Laura J. Bassett, Louise H., Emma E. and George Mahoney.

The funeral services will be held next Wednesday in St. John’s Episcopal
Church. Interment will take place in St. Mary’s Cemetery

Oakland Tribune Jan 1900

Family members continued to live in the home until around 1913.

St. Mary’s Cemetery

In 1863 Archbishop Alemany purchased 36 acres of land known as the ” Mahoney Ranch” from Thomas Mahoney. The land is now known as St. Mary’s Cemetery next to Mountain View Cemetery. Thomas Mahoney was buried there in 1900.

Find A Grave – St. Mary’s Cemetery – Thomas Mahoney

Past and Present of Alameda County, California
Book by Joseph Eugene Baker
Oakland Tribune May 22, 1922

The Knave

Laura Mahoney Bassett was well known for her reminiscences in the Sunday Knave in the Oakland Tribune. She was the oldest daughter of Thomas Mahoney and she was born in Oakland in 1866 where she lived most of her 80 years. She died in 1950.

Oakland Tribune Jue 23, 1950

Sunday Knave

Some of her “reminiscences” in the Sunday Knave.

Oakland Tribune 1944
Oakland Tribune June 29, 1947
Oakland Tribune July 6, 1947
Oakland Tribune Aug 10, 1947

Go here to read the clip Oakland Tribune.

The End

Posted in Buildings, East Oakland, Schools, Then and Now, West Oakland

Then & Now – Oakland Schools Part 5

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.

Brookfield Village School

Brookfield Village school opened for the new school year in September of 1944, the latest of Oakland’s 77 schools.

Brookfield Village Elementary School opened without the benefit of bells.

Oakland Tribune Sept 17, 1944

Oakland Tribune Sept 17, 1944

Brookfield was Oakland’s newest public school, which opened under wartime handicaps. Money and supplies were tight. Classes were being held in 19 portables that arrived in the 3 weeks before school started.

There were 767 boys and girls were enrolled just 33 less than anticipated in that first year.

New School

In February of 1950, they held a groundbreaking ceremony for Unit 1 of the new Brookfield Village School.

Oakland Tribune

The school unit was designed by Confer and Willis. The new building had 11 classrooms, a library, and an auditorium. It was a one-story building of wood frame construction.

Oakland Tribune Apr 24, 1951

New Addition

Oakland Tribune Oct 1957

In November of 1957, they broke ground for new addition costing $286,680. The new building will include a cafeteria, 10 classrooms, a kindergarten plus 2 special class classrooms.

Brookfield Today

Brookfield Lions: Learning and Thriving with Pride.
Brookfield Today

The school is located at 401 Jones Ave. Oakland, CA 94603

Clawson Grammar School

Clawson School dates back to the 1880s, as seen in the image below.

Clawson in 1895

Clawson Elementary School was built in 1915. This Neo-Classical design had two stories and utilized extensive terracotta ornamentation. The ornamentation around its front doors. The building was designed by

School Architecture: Principles and Practices
By John Joseph Donovan 1921

The Clawson Elementary School was listed as standing near the intersection of 32nd Street and Magnolia Street in Polk-Husted’s Oakland, California, City Directory, 1918

School Architecture: Principles and Practices
By John Joseph Donovan 1921

School Architecture: Principles and Practices
By John Joseph Donovan 1921

School Architecture: Principles and Practices
By John Joseph Donovan 1921

Kindergarten

Entrance to the Kindergarten CLassroom
Clawson School pergola, Oakland, California (1916) 1

School Architecture: Principles and Practices
By John Joseph Donovan 1921

Principal’s Office

School Architecture: Principles and Practices
By John Joseph Donovan 1921

School Architecture: Principles and Practices
By John Joseph Donovan 1921

School Architecture: Principles and Practices
By John Joseph Donovan 1921

Auditorium

School Architecture: Principles and Practices
By John Joseph Donovan 1921

Bathrooms Boys and Girls

clawson-boys-bathroom

School Architecture: Principles and Practices
By John Joseph Donovan 1921

School Architecture: Principles and Practices
By John Joseph Donovan 1921

Clawson Closed

The building functioned as a school until it was closed sometime between 1971-1973. OUSD closed 3 schools in 1973 rather than spend the money needed to retrofit them, including Clawson School. Clawson couldn’t meet the new stricter seismic standards that went into effect in 1973.

New Life

Clawson Lofts – Realtor.com

After extensive remodeling and structural upgrading, the building reopened as The West Clawson Lofts in 1999.

Location 3240 Peralta Street Oakland CA

  • Clawson School – Oakland Local Wiki
  • Clawson School – American Architect
  • School Architecture – 1921
  • West Clawson Lofts – webpage
  • Clawson School – PCAD

Emerson Elementary School

Emerson School 1912
John Galen Howard collection of progress photographs, ca. 1905-1910
The Bancroft Library UC Berkeley

Emerson Elementary School was built in 1913. It was designed by John J Donovan and John Galen Howard. The total cost of the school was $163,879. It was located at 49th and Shafter Avenue.

Oakland Tribune 1912
Oakland Tribune 1912
School Architecture: Principles and Practices
By John Joseph Donovan 1921

School Architecture: Principles and Practices
By John Joseph Donovan 1921
School Architecture: Principles and Practices
By John Joseph Donovan 1921

Emerson Now

The address is 4803 Lawton Avenue. In 1978, it was torn down because it was considered seismically unsafe.

Today – OUSD Photo
Emerson Today

The End

Posted in Black History, History, People, Then and Now, West Oakland

Royal E. Towns – Engine Company No. 22

Royal Edward Towns (February 10, 1899–July 23, 1990) was one of the first African American firefighters in Oakland and was instrumental in helping desegregate the fire department.  Towns was born in Oakland in 1899, and when denied union membership in his factory job because of his race, went to work as a railroad porter. 

Royal E. Towns

He joined the OFD in 1927 and was assigned to Engine Company No. 22, a segregated firehouse in West Oakland. The station was located at 3320 Magnolia Street. He helped train many other black applicants to pass the test, and was scoutmaster for a Boy Scout troop that included Sam Golden, who went on to become the first African American fire chief in Oakland.

The exterior of Oakland Fire Department Engine no. 22
3320 Magnolia Street

Three firefighters sitting in Oakland fire truck parked in the driveway of fire Engine no. 22

Royal Towns was the 11th black Oakland fireman when he was hired in 1927.  The 12th wasn’t hired for another 15 years. 

Royal E. Towns and his colleagues with Engine Company No. 22 of the racially segregated Oakland Fire Department. (1943)

In 1971 there were only 35 black firemen.

Towns became the first to be promoted in the OFD. He became a chief operator in 1941 and retired as a lieutenant in 1962.

Royal E. Towns (center) and his colleagues with Engine Company No. 22
of the racially segregated Oakland Fire Department. (1943)

Towns was instrumental in helping desegregate the fire department. He helped train many other black applicants to pass the fire department test.

Royal Towns on the left with Oakland firefighters standing in front of fire engine no. 22 – Circa 1943

Personal Life

Royal Towns was born in Oakland on February 10, 1899, to William Towns and Elizabeth Towns.

Towns married Lucille Dennis May 26, 1920. Together they had three children. The family lived in various locations within Oakland

Royal E. Towns died July 23, 1990, and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery

More Photos

The photos are courtesy of the Royal E. Towns papers, MS 26, African American Museum and Library at Oakland, Oakland Public Library. Oakland, California. Photos at Calisphere

3320 Magnolia Street Oakland – Then and Now
It is no longer a Fire Station

Rolling Hoses in front of Engine No 22

Two firemen attaching hoses to a fire hydrant, firefighters practicing with fire hoses in the park in the background – on Peralta Street

Peralta Street – Then and Now

Firemen holding fire hose in the street next to
Gleason and Company building – Circa 1950s
at the corner of Magnolia and 34th Street

34th and Magnolia – Then and Now

Firemen holding fire hose in the street next to Gleason and Company building
Circa 1950s – 34th and Magnolia

Across from the Gleason Company today

Firemen holding fire hose in the street next to Gleason and Company building
Circa 1950s – 34th and Magnolia

Looking down Magnolia towards 34th St.
Circa 1950s

Looking down Magnolia towards 34th St.
Then and Now

Dog climbing ladder to get an apple in front of Oakland Fire Department Fire Engine No. 22 – circa the 1950s

Fireman jumping off the ladder in front of Oakland Fire Department fire Engine no. 22

More on Royal E. Towns

The End