Oakland Heritage Alliance is a non-profit membership organization which advocates the protection, preservation,
and revitalization of Oakland’s architectural, historic, cultural and natural resources through publications,
education, and direct action.
Oakland Heritage Alliance is a non-profit organization that serves as a bridge connecting
Oakland’s past to its present and future. We work to protect, preserve and revitalize Oakland’s
architectural, historic, and cultural resources by providing programs and services that inform
Oakland’s diverse population about the importance of these resources and, through our advocacy
and educational programs, to encourage them to do the same.
OHA began in 1980 when a small group of people decided that it was time to stem the tide of
urban renewal projects that were paving over, plowing under, and otherwise obliterating Oakland’s
unique and irreplaceable historic architectural buildings. Whole blocks of Victorians had been
lost and many of downtown Oakland’s handsome early 20th century commercial buildings were being
knocked down in the name of "progress".
Armed with only $150 but a fierce determination to protect the historic, architectural and
cultural legacy of Oakland, a small group of citizen activists began to throw their energy and
time into preservation action. The first step was to form a citizen advisory committee, some of
whom had helped preserve the historic Camron-Stanford House on the shores of Lake Merritt, to
initiate one of Oakland’s most important preservation tools: the Oakland Cultural Heritage Survey.
Those involved in the first phase of the survey, completed in 1980, went on to form the Oakland
Heritage Alliance, a nonprofit organization which currently has over 500 members.
From the beginning, OHA engaged residents, policymakers, elected officials and others in exploring
strategies to preserve Oakland’s irreplaceable cultural and architectural heritage. Activities
sponsored by the organization focus largely on educational, outreach and advocacy programs.
Each summer our award winning walking tours introduce hundreds of people to Oakland’s diverse
architectural, cultural and natural heritage. These tours bring history alive and help people
explore Oakland’s vibrant and history-filled neighborhoods.
Each year, to honor those who are helping preserve Oakland’s history, whether it is the
restoration of homes and commercial buildings, serving as preservation advocates, or
preserving an important cultural heritage, OHA presents its annual Partners in Preservation Awards.
Our monthly lectures series brings outstanding preservationists, historians, architects, and
cultural leaders to discuss important preservation issues with members and the public.
One of the key roles OHA plays in the city is to voice citizen support the protection of
Oakland’s historic resources.
The words of Beth Bagwell, one of the founders of the Oakland Heritage Alliance, ring as
true today as they did when first published in our inaugural 1981 newsletter:
"OHA cares about the Oakland of yesterday because we care about the Oakland of tomorrow.
The environment we live in today has been given to us from the past: the buildings that remain,
the layout of the streets, the ethnic character of our neighborhoods, the forgotten creeks, and
the lake that still forms the centerpiece of our city. The Oakland of today is the result of what
Oaklanders of yesterday built or demolished, fostered or neglected. This is our inheritance.
What we do with it is our choice."
Board of Directors
Susan Anderson, Charles Bucher, Claire Castell, Tom Debley, Alison Finlay, Tom Haw, Kathryn Hughes, Daniel Levy, Amelia Marshall, Steve Rynerson, Naomi Schiff and Charles Smith
President: Alison Finlay
Vice President: Tom Haw
Secretary: Charles Bucher
Treasurer: Claire Castell