Oakland Heritage Alliance logo








Oakland Heritage Alliance Logo



Past Events

Fairy Tale, Disneyesque, Hansel and Gretel -
America's Whimsical Homes of the 1920s

Date: Thursday, April 20, 2017
Time: 7p.m.
Location: Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland


Fairy Tale, Disneyesque, Hansel and Gretel—these are all synonyms for Storybook Style, a rambunctious evocation ofmedieval Europe, and surely the most delightful home style of the twentieth century. It appeared in the early 1920s, andwas almost forgotten by the late 1930s. Storybook Style houses were created by architects and builders with a distinctflair for theater, a love of fine craftsmanship, and not least a good sense of humor—attributes that make these homesendearing to the tech-weary modern eye. Join architect and author Arrol Gellner on a visual romp through the Storybook era.


Arrol Gellner is a practicing architect and frequent writer on architectural subjects. He has authored three books onhistoric architecture, as well as the long-running nationally syndicated column Architext, which is now available in blogform at . He maintains offices in Emeryville as well as near Shanghai, China, where hespends his summers indulging a penchant for heat and humidity.

The Women's Club Movement in Oakland

Date: Thursday, March 16, 2017
Time: 7p.m.
Location: Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland

Women's organizations have led the way in advancing Oakland's cultural and philanthropic life. Oakland History Room Librarian Kathleen DiGiovanni will celebrate Women's History Month with a talk on these clubs, including the venerable Ebell Society, neighborhood women's clubs like Rockridge and Fruitvale, the Fanny Jackson Coppin Club, and the Linden Street YWCA.

From Labor to Reward:
Black Church Beginnings in the Bay Area

Date: Wednesday February 22, 2017


Martha C. Taylor is recognized as an authority on Black Church beginnings in the San Francisco Bay Area as chronicled in her recent released book From Labor to Reward, Black Church Beginnings in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Richmond 1849-1972. Taylor serves on the pastoral team at the historic Allen Temple Baptist Church, Oakland as the Church Historian. She also serves as the National Historian for the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. She was honored to serve as a guest Chaplain for the United States House of Representatives. Taylor has appeared in Who’s Who Among Black Americans, and is a former adjunct professor at the San Francisco Theological Seminary where she earned her Doctor of Minister degree. Taylor’s professional membership includes Museum of African Diaspora, San Francisco Historical Society, American Academy of Religion, Charter member of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. Taylor is a frequent speaker for professional organizations locally and nationally including South Africa. Taylor is dually ordained as an American Baptist Minister Presbyterian. Taylor is a long-time resident of Oakland whose parents were part of the Great Migration.

Her Book!

From Labor to Reward – Black Church Beginnings in San Francisco Oakland, Berkeley and Richmond – 1849-1972 is a pioneering, epic, and groundbreaking book that fills a huge void in American religious history, black religious history, and traditions of the black church.  Until now, no other book has chronicled the rich religious experiences of black church beginnings in the Bay Area. This book traces the growth of Black Churches in four Bay Area California cities; San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond. Using four timeframes, (1) Gold Rush era - 1848-1909, 2) First Migration -1910-1939), Second Great Migration-1940-1949 and the Civil Rights Era - 1950-1972. Readers will experience the joys, frustrations and unity of black people who sojourned from the Deep South to the Bay Area and built a strong religious community as they struggled against adversity of racism, housing discrimination, KKK threats of violence and death and other socio-political barriers. The research data is written from a "people’s" perspective, using local congregational records, oral interviews, newspaper clippings, history books, and other written sources. This one of a kind book is destined to be a classic and invaluable to persons interested in Church History with an emphasis on Black Church growth in the Bay Area chronicled in a single volume.  

Meet us at the New SeaWolf Public House
Date: Thursday February 16, 2017

Meet us at the new SeaWolf Public House along with Sierra Nevada brewery for food and drinks during SF Beer Week, 4th and Webster (a portion of the profits to benefit Oakland Heritage Alliance). A historic building reawakened!

35th Anniversary of OHA!
Date: Sunday, January 29, 2017

Oakland Heritage Alliance is 35! Join old friends and new, celebrating our love of Oakland’s architecture, history, cultural riches. And what better place to celebrate OHA’s endeavors than at a party in the beautiful Craftsman Dining Hall of the Dimond District’s historic Altenheim? This not-to-be-missed event will be a rare chance to enjoy an award-winning preservation treasure— an Oakland landmark on the National Register of Historic Places; festivities begin by unveiling a new landmark plaque. Join us for food, drink, tours, live music, wine raffle and more! Proceeds benefit the continuing work of OHA at a critical time of change in our city! First 50 who reserve will receive a $10 discount.

Families and Photos: The Gibbons and Cohens Help Shape the East Bay

Date: Thursday, January 19, 2017

Meet two families who played instrumental roles in creating the railroads that became the West Coast destination for the transcontinental railroad. The Gibbons family arrived in Pennsylvania in the 17th century. The patriarch sat on the jury for that state’s only witch trail. The Cohens thrived in Jamaica as coffee barons, until Great Britain abolished slavery, that is. Dennis Evanosky will trace these families to California and discuss the important roles they played in early San Francisco, Oakland and Alameda history. He will also discuss the Edgar Cohen photographs donated to the Oakland Heritage Alliance. Edgar was an accomplished photographer who lived in Alameda.

Gene Anderson: A Local Tour of Jack London's Oakland

Date: Thursday, December 15, 2016
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland

Author, adventurer, photographer -- many words and pursuits can be used to describe Jack London. What was the Oakland Jack London would have known? While Oakland has changed greatly since Jack attended Cole Grammar School in 1887 or wrote his first novel on Foothill Boulevard in 1900, we can use historic photos (and a few from the present day) to explore the Oakland that Jack would have known.

Peter Morenstein: Cirecast, Inc.

Date: Thursday, December 8, 2016
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland

I have been a craftsman for most of my life. From an early age I loved to draw, paint and carve in any medium that was accessible to me. In my teen years, it was all about custom cars. I learned to use my hands to build more complex objects, enhance my mechanical skills and build on my autodidact training in basic engineering and related subjects. As a college student, I acquired more formal training in the disciplines of metallurgy, mechanical engineering and design, receiving a BS in Industrial Design from the College of Engineering at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.

Diane Ayres: Arts & Crafts Textiles

Date: Saturday, November 19, 2016
Time: 10 a.m.
Location: 5427 Telegraph Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609

Creating textiles in the Arts & Crafts tradition and collecting antiques has been a passion of Dianne Ayres for over 30 years. Visit her studio to see details of the process, including sewing machines inherited from her grandmother and great-grandmother. The studio tour will include our newly renovated showroom and a special exhibit of antiques.

African American Freedom Trail Lecture 

Date: Thursday, November 17, 2016
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland

People of African descent have figured prominently in California history from the earliest days of Spanish colonization to the war for Mexican independence to statehood. Longtime residents and newcomers can benefit from learning about the historical contributions of African American pioneers, from the windswept bluffs of Fort Bragg to the Julian Hotel in San Diego County—listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the “oldest continuously operated hotel in Southern California.

Panache Lighting Studio Tour

Date:  Saturday, October 29, 2016

Time: 10 a.m.
Location: Panache Lighting Studio

Panache Lighting provides lighting repair and fabrication services to Berkeley, the San Francisco Bay Area, and northern California. Jana Olson, the owner, has years of experience in antique lighting. She formerly owned Omega Lighting Design, in Berkeley, a store specializing in “things to make your old house look old.”

The Real Jack London with Lou Leal

Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave., Oakland

An overview of Jack London's life, personal, professional, and of adventure. His life in Oakland will be summarized. Included will be his move from Oakland to Glen Ellen, his diversity in writing, and finally, his passion for farming towards the end of his life. Some of the rumors and myths surrounding Jack London will also be presented.

Ships & Shipwrecks of the San Francisco Bay (Dinner and Program)
Date: Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Time:5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Location: Scott's Seafood Grill & Bar - 2 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94607

Some 1400 vessels entered the Bay in 1849 and 1850 and nearly 225 are recorded as having sunk, but only a few have been found. Two vessels are currently undergoing restoration, having been discovered in excavations for new building projects. Many were purposely sunk as foundations for filling grade structures for the developing city. This presentation will be given by Dr. James Allan, who has spent decades searching for these ships and has been described as the underwater "Indiana Jones."

Lecture given by Wally Holmen.

Mare Island Tour

Date: Sunday, September 17, 2016
Time:10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m..
Location: Mare Island Museum, 1100 Railroad Avenue

There is much to see at Mare Island, but Captain Thomas L. Snyder will focus on the hospital and other highlights including St. Peter's Chapel, with the largest collection of Tiffany windows west of the Mississippi; the Mare Island Museum, housed in the former Pipefitting Shop, constructed in 1855; the lovely homes of Officers' Row; and elements of the shipyard itself, including Drydock #1, constructed of granite floated down from the Sierras.

The Hospitals of Mare Island Naval Shipyard Lecture

Date: Thursday, September 8, 2016
Time:10:00 a.m.
Location: Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland

Captain Thomas L. Snyder will tell stories and show images featuring the intrepidity of Navy health care professionals throughout the history of the Navy's first West Coast hospital. He'll highlight the inventiveness and creativity of the Mare Islanders who worked in obscurity until our nation's expansion as a Pacific power as a result of the Spanish American War brought this remote station and its hospital into the consciousness of the "powers that be" on the East Coast.

Wood Street, Station to Station Tour

Date: Sunday, August 28, 2016
Time:10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m..
Location: Meet at Point Station (7th and Wood Streets, under the BART tracks)

Put the west in West Oakland, the point in Oakland Point! Along Wood and Pine Streets is a 150-year panorama, from Lew Hing’s cannery to Bea’s Hotel, from the Death Curve to the death marsh, from Maiden Lane to the house with no walls, from railroad-era tract houses and mansions to twenty shades of neo-Victorians, from Esther’s Orbit Room to the grand new opera house, the industrial edge, the lagoon, the piano graveyard, the big dig, the restorations and desecrations—you will see it all. Optional post-tour return along 8th Street to BART. A level walk.

Leader: Betty Marvin

Oakland's Airport/North Field Tour

Date: Saturday, August 27, 2016
Time:10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m..
Location: Meet at Business Jet Center, 9351 Earhart Road (west on Hegenberger Road from 880, right on Doolittle, left on Swan) Park in lot across from the building; assemble under the trees.

Old Oakland Airport (North Field) was dedicated by Charles Lindbergh and often visited by Amelia Earhart. One of the nation’s most historic aviation sites, its original facilities—five hangers, an administration building, and a hotel, built between 1927 and 1929—are largely intact. A level walk. Afterwards you may wish to visit the nearby Oakland Aerospace Museum (museum admission: Adults $10, Seniors $9, Children 6–12 $5)

Leader: Woody Minor

Piedmont Ave.

Date: Sunday, August 21, 2016
Time: 10 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Location: 4314 Piedmont Ave. at John St.

This dense area of single-family houses and condos, with a well-known dining district, was once rolling hills with creeks running through small farms and through the large holdings of wealthy landowners. We begin in the 1860s, at Piedmont Avenue School. A climb to the Piedmont/Oakland border reveals estate-like homes facing multiplexes. We’ll discover an Art Deco beauty with a secret, and a tiny park at Glen Echo Creek. On Piedmont Ave., we’ll pass establishments such as Long’s Drugs and Piedmont Grocery, district anchors in the early 20th century. We follow old horse car and streetcar lines past the Key Route depot, to Mountain View Cemetery. Some steep uphill.

Leader: Ruby Long

Jack London's Oakland

Date: Saturday, August 20, 2016
Time: 1 p.m.
Location: In front of Jack’s Alaska Cabin, near Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon, Jack London Square

This year marks the 140th anniversary of Jack London’s birth and the 100th anniversary of his death. Learn about the Oakland that famed author Jack London would have known. From studies at Cole Grammar School to long, dangerous work shifts at Hickmott Cannery, to studying and character observations at Heinold’s, we’ll explore what Oakland looked like in Jack London’s day and how it shaped him and his writing. A level walk.?

Leaders: Annalee Allen & Gene Anderson

Oakland Artscapes Tour: What is Public Art?

Date: Sunday, August 14, 2016
Time:1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m..
Location: Meet at Joyce Gordon Gallery - 406 14th Street, Oakland

What is public art, and where do you find it? Whether you’re looking for a towering sculpture or a hidden graffiti tag, this tour through Oakland’s outdoor art-scape will surprise and engage you. We’ll encounter diverse examples of art along Oakland’s historic Downtown/Uptown corridor, and discuss the role of art in shaping urban identity. A level walk. Special: for the under-30 crowd, pay what you can afford.

The Evolution of Chabot Canyon in the 20th Century Tour

Date: Saturday, August 13, 2016
Time:10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m..
Location: Meet at 6686 Chabot Road, Oakland

Join a walk starting at Chabot Elementary School and heading east on Chabot Road to learn about the secrets of this picturesque section of Oakland. This will include, among other items, how the Sacramento Northern berm was created, the origins of Reata, the Quarry, the Rockridge Syphon, the Chick House and ending with a walk up Roble Road to review the Heimbold Legacy. A hilly walk.

Leader: Stuart Swiedler


Date: Sunday, August 7, 2016
Time:10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m..
Location: Meet at Mary Help of Christians Church - 2605 East 9th Street, Oakland

Visit Fruitvale’s “below the tracks” neighborhood of mills, factories and working people’s houses. The early economy centered on the California Cotton Mills and canneries.  By the 1910s the neighborhood had a strong Portuguese community, anchored by Mary Help of Christians Church. The Nimitz Freeway cut the neighborhood (and the Cotton Mills) in half in the 1950s. Industrial zoning eroded the neighborhood, but gave birth to neighborhood activism ?in the 1970s. A level walk.

Leaders: Pamela Magnuson-Peddle & Betty Marvin

Wholesale Produce Market and Waterfront Warehouse Districts Tour

Date: Saturday, August 6, 2016
Time:10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m..
Location: Meet at 3rd Street and Franklin Street, Oakland

Explore two of Oakland’s most fragile and endangered historic districts, where early 20th century wholesale, industrial, shipping and warehousing activities are being replaced by office, commercial, residential, and lifestyle lofts.  Since the year 2000, 850 new condos and 700 new apartments have been constructed. The City has approved an additional 1,217 residential units in six new buildings that will be constructed in the near future. The Waterfront Warehouse District boasts the country’s finest collection of sidewalk trash receptacles. A level walk.

Leader: Gary Knecht

Redwoods of Oakland

Date: Saturday, July 31, 2016
Time:10:00-1:30 p.m..
Location: Please call for meetup location. Tour is limited to 30 experienced hikers. Please bring water and wear comfortable shoes. Reserve tours $20 for members, $25 for nom-members Call the OHA office 510 763-9218 for reservations or reserve online.

Enjoy breathtaking views in the hills above Leona Heights, glimpse at an old sulfur mine and see the workings of the tramway that carried stone from the nearby quarry. Learn about the birth, growth and harvesting of the redwood trees and see the oldest tree in Oakland. This moderately difficult 3 1⁄2 hour hike has its ups and downs, but will be worth the effort! Wear hiking shoes; bring binoculars, cameras and extra water. –Dennis Evanosky

Sheffield Village

Date: Saturday, July 30, 2016
Time:10:00-12:30 p.m..
Location: Meet near the traffic island at the southeast corner of Revere Ave and Marlowe Dr.

Sheffield Village was touted in contemporary descriptions as a place “where color schemes and nature blend in perfect harmony.” Designated an Oakland City Historic District in 2004, Sheffield Village is a 100-acre enclave of single family homes begun in 1939. The tour will explore the site plan, house styles, preservation issues, and whether it lives up to the pre-WW II hype. A slightly hilly walk. —Greg Novak 65

Tiles and Terra Cotta in Uptown Oakland

Date: Sunday, July 24, 2016
Time:10:00-12:30 p.m..
Location: Meet at Howden Building, 337 17th St. (near corner of Webster)

We will examine upwards of 20 buildings dating from the years 1908 to 1931, when
architectural ceramics were widely used on the facings of large and important buildings. Classically inspired Beaux Arts facades gave way over time to Moderne and Deco styles
that included brightly colorful glazes. Uptown offers a fine collection of specimens. The beauty of this medium will be explored, and its special needs for maintenance and restoration pointed out. A level walk. —Riley Doty

Fernwood: Montclair's Creekside Neighborhood

Date: Sunday, July 23, 2016
Time:1:30-3:30 p.m..
Location: Meet in front of the Montclair Branch Library, 1687 Mountain Blvd.

Texas Ranger Jack Hays settled along the banks of Temescal Creek in 1852 and called his home “Fernwood.” Oaklanders have been attracted to this park-like enclave of hills and ravines ever since. This walk explores Fernwood from its earliest settlement to development in the 1920s as Oakland’s forested suburb. No sidewalks; wear comfortable shoes. ~ Kathleen DiGiovanni

Introducing the Building Stones of Downtown Oakland

Date: Sunday, July 17, 2016
Time:1:30-4:00 p.m..
Location: Meet at Parking lot by the Uptown Transit Center, at Thomas L. Berkley Way (20th Street)
between Broadway and Telegraph Ave. (19th Street BART station)

Oakland is very rich in geology, and not all of it is up in the hills. Our city's buildings have taken advantage of structural and ornamental stone from California and from all over the world. Starting at the 19th Street BART station and ending at City Hall, this walk visits some of the stones on display in building walls, floors, facades and entryways. We'll learn what geology tells us about these rocks, and how they represent Oakland's historic changes in commerce,
architecture and civic style. –Andrew Alden

Storied Lakeside Park: Bonsai, Bowling and Butterflies

Date: Saturday, July 16, 2016
Time:10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Location: Meet at Lakeside Garden Center, 666 Bellevue Road, across from Children’s Fairyland

Tour Lakeside Park with us and learn about the history of this unique local treasure and today’s uses that keep the park vibrant - from Children’s Fairyland to the Wildlife Sanctuary, from the bandstand to the McElroy Fountain. We’ll tour the Lakeside Garden Center, home to garden wonders from century-old bonsai to butterflies. We’ll also visit the nearby Lawn Bowling Club, founded here in 1903. A level walk. – Kathleen DiGiovanni

This event is sponsored by the Oakland Heritage Alliance. Join or renew OHA membership for a $10 discount off member price.

Mountain View Cemetery Tour

Date: Sunday, July 10, 2016
Time: 10:00 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Location: Meet at Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland

Walk into the past in California’s most historic cemetery to meet
some of our state’s early movers and shakers along with
the monuments that preserve their memory. Charles Crocker,
Domingo Ghirardelli and Samuel Merritt are among those you
will encounter. A hilly walk. –Dennis Evanosky

F. M. "Borax" Smith Estate

Date: Saturday July 9, 2016
Time: 10 am
Location: Redwood tree near 1105 McKinley Avenue

Meet at redwood tree near 1105 McKinley Avenue at Home Place East (1 block off Park Boulevard). Visit the site of Arbor Villa, Francis Marion “Borax” Smith’s palatial estate. Smith founded an international industry (“20-Mule Team Borax”), established the Key Route System, and became one of Oakland’s most famous, colorful entrepreneurs. The tour visits the site of Oak Hall, the 9th Ave. palm trees, the Mary R. Smith Cottages and other historic houses, including ones designed by Bernard Maybeck and Julia Morgan. A 2-mile, hilly walk. –Phil Bellman & Amelia Marshall

Feasts of Fruitvale Food Walk

Date: Sunday May 22, 2016
Time: 10 am
Location: Peralta House, 2465 34th Ave, Oakland

Meet in the beautiful Peralta House kitchen (2465 34th Ave) at 10 am with Professor Alex Saragoza of UC Berkeley and Executive Director and curator Holly Alonso to hear and see how foods have flowed through Fruitvale through time. Then walk down to Foothill Ave to talk to the neighborhood's latino chefs, bakers and restauranteurs about their life stories, secret recipes and food traditions, such as Pan Dulce,Pozole and Pupusas. You will hear the stories of these master cooks--how they arrived here and thrived. Linger at the end of the tour to eat lunch in your choice of the restaurants you have just learned about. A fabulous introduction to a new face of Fruitvale!

California Faience: Tile Maker for Julia Morgan, with Kirby Brown

Date: Thursday May 19, 2016
Time: 7 pm
Location: Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland

The history and pottery wares of California Faience. Mr. Brown, author of
California Faience: Ceramics for Cottages and Castles will emphasize the relationship
with Julia Morgan and show her role not only as an architect, but a superb
designer of tiles. View slides of many of Miss Morgan’s drawings of tile designs
along with the tiles made by California Faience from those drawings, with a
discusion of the origins and inspirations for the designs. Mr. Brown will present
many examples of Morgan’s work at Chapel of the Chimes, as well as at Hearst
Castle and in some Bay Area houses.

First Christian Church: An Insider’s Look at William Weeks

Date: Saturday May 14, 2016
Time: 10 am
Location: First Christian Church

Tour the home of the Oakland Peace Center and of the First Christian Church, a congregation founded in 1876. The building’s tower is visible from Broadway; the church is built into the hillside. Stone, tile, and stained glass enhance this fine Spanish Colonial Revival church design of 1928 by William Weeks, a prolific architect who constructed many libraries, schools, and churches of various denominations, as well as his own house in Piedmont.

Maryly Snow Printing Studios Tour

Date: Saturday April 9, 2016
Time: 10 am
Location: Filbert St. Studios, 3016 Filbert St., Oakland,  Studio 14

Join Oakland artist Maryly Snow for an exclusive look at her work space, demonstration of her techniques and insight into her creative process. Snow will explain the attraction of solar etching plates and print both a solar relief and solar intaglio (etching) plate during the tour. She is a painter, photographer, printmaker, and collector of toothbrushes. Her work focuses primarily on documenting time and place and the relationship between art and science with series such as Sliced Views and Photomosaics.

Inge Horton: Creating the Modern Dream -- Women Architects in Northern California


Date: March 24, 2016
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave., Oakland



McKee house, Berkeley, 1948, Arabella McKee Hufbauer, Inge Horton

Many women contributed to the modern movement -- with building designs, with published articles, or by promoting modern furniture. Oakland architects Irving and Gertrude Morrow designed the first modern house in San Francisco in 1933. Female students were also involved in urging the faculty at UC Berkeley to revise the curriculum from the Beaux Arts approach to Modernism. Women’s contributions to the modern movement are still visible today.


Lou Kern Stairmaking Studio


Date: March 19, 2016
Time: 10 a.m.
Location: 2500 Market Street, Oakland



Visit the workshop of a master woodworker and furniture-maker whose specialty is building staircases. A self-taught craftsman, he has built more than 500 staircases in his 26-year career. With deep respect for traditional construction, he combines the use of modern machinery and materials. His projects are notable for timelessness, artistic quality, enduring strength, and love of detail. 

Partners in Preservation Awards

February 18, 2016

At this much-loved annual ceremony, OHA recognizes key contributions to Oakland’s culture, architecture, and historic heritage.  

Meet our 2015 winners here!

A City for Children: Women, Architecture, and the Charitable Landscapes of Oakland

February 13, 2016

Women in Oakland have a long, rich history of creating places for the city’s children. Often lacking the financial means to build from scratch, these women did not look at urban land as a blank slate to be wiped clean for development. Instead they turned private houses and even a saloon into orphanages, kindergartens, settlement houses, and day care centers. Marta Gutman, author of A City for Children: Women, Architecture, and the Charitable Landscapes of Oakland, 1850-1950 and professor of architectural history will discuss this compelling model for building urban institutions, demonstrating how children, women, charity, and reform, along with incremental construction, renovations, alterations, additions, and repurposed structures, are central to the understanding of modern cities.

Times Higher Education named A City for Children a book of the year in 2014. It also won the Historic Preservation Book Prize from the University of Mary Washington Center for Historic Preservation and the Gene E. and Adele Malott Prize (honorable mention) from the Langham Charitable Trust. The author will be signing her book which will be available for purchase at the event.

Recovering from the Depression: The New Deal’s Contributions to the East Bay

January 28, 2016

Children wait eagerly at a Toy Loan Project in Oakland. The WPA employed men to recondition toys and maintained
toy lending libraries for poor children.

Photograph: National Archives

Dr. Gray Brechin will delve into the history of the Bay Area’s Depression-era architecture and public art, including iconic sites such as Woodminster, the East Bay Regional Parks, Alameda CountyCourthouse, and the Bay Bridge. He will talk about the Living New Deal project and its plan to build the nation’s first museum and memorial to the public works and people of the Franklin Roosevelt’s work relief agencies from which we all continue to benefit.

Piraneseum: Souvenirs of the Grand Tour

The living room is hung with Piraneseum's collection of capricci, 17th and 18th c. Italian architectural ruins paintings, most of which are included in Giancarlo Sestieri's comprehensive treatment of the genre, Il Capriccio Architettonico

Photo courtesy of Lucia Howard and David Weingarten


Join OHA on a special tour of Piraneseum, a private gallery that Oakland’s Ace Architects (Lucia Howard and David Weingarten) added onto their historic 1929 home. The leading source of architectural souvenirs of the Grand Tour, Piraneseum offers four types of 17th, 18th, and 19th century mementos—paintings, etchings and works on paper, models, and decorative arts.

Berkeley architect Lillian Bridgman designed the original building for Dr. Clarence Wills, father of the “first internationally known American woman sports figure" (Wikipedia), Helen Wills Moody. A tennis player who won at Wimbledon and the French Open repeatedly in the 20’s and 30’s, Helen was a well-known, somewhat notorious, figure in San Francisco history.

Extensive cactus and palm gardens, which include historic San Francisco sculptures, surround the house, and will be open for visitors.

Christmas Pageant Memories

December 10, 2015

Thousands of young Oaklanders were Christmas Pageant kids. Between 1919 and 1987, a unique partnership between the public schools and the Oakland Recreation Department produced this annual extravaganza of holiday music and dance. Louise Jorgensen, the pageant’s formidable director, transformed school children into troupes of elves, candy sticks, heralds, and fairies for the entertainment of family and friends. It was a gift to the City of Oakland from its children. Hear Kathleen DiGiovanni tell the story of this beloved local tradition through photographs, video, original sketches, and more from the Christmas Pageant archive in the collection of the Oakland History Room.

The Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915

November 17, 2015

Photo courtesy of the Ackley Collection

100 years ago, our neighbors in San Francisco held a truly spectacular World’s Fair. The event’s success marked the city’s rebirth from the ashes of the 1906 earthquake and fire. Architectural historian and author of the authoritative book on the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915, Laura Ackley will describe the planning, construction, operations, and demolition of the exhibits built over the stagnant lagoon and marshy area in what is now the Marina District. She will also be selling and signing her book.

Presented with CSI East Bay Oakland. Visit eastbay.csinet.org for info about CSI East Bay Oakland.


Weaving History & Narrative in the Lost Secrets Novels

November 12, 2015


If a place was different in the past, can it be different in the future, too? Come hear Summer Brenner discuss her novel, Oakland Tales: Lost Secrets of the Town, in which a couple of present-day teens travel through Oakland’s history, bringing the experiences of the past forward into a better understanding of the present. The book was illustrated by artist/muralist Miguel Perez. 

Oakland Tales has been selected for the common core curriculum in Oakland Unified schools. Another book in the series, Richmond Tales, won an Historic Preservation Award and a Human Rights award from the City of Richmond. In 2014-2015, theatrical versions of Oakland Tales, co-directed by San Francisco's Word for Word Theater Company, were performed. The research, writing, and production of these two site-specific novels were supported by generous grants from the Creative Work Fund, the Rex Foundation, the Rogers Family Foundation, and the San Francisco Foundation; as well as the partnerships of Community Works West, the Oakland Unified School District, and the West Contra Costa Unified School District.

Delete SectionMove Section UpMove Section DownEdit SectionAdd New Section Below



California Pride: Mapping LGBTQ Histories

October 15, 2015


Learn about an exciting new-media heritage project! California Pride is an online, crowd-sourced archive of memories, stories, and images related to sites throughout the Golden State associated with LGBTQ experience. California Pride can help bring awareness to the powerful, diverse stories that make up LGBTQ history — from major events to daily life. At the White Horse Bar, the longest continuously running LGBTQ-friendly bar in the Bay Area, project director Donna Graveswill present an overview of the project and show attendees how to “pin” their favorite LGBTQ historic sites to the California Pride map. We welcome stories, photos, flyers, and other ephemera associated with LGBTQ history throughout the Bay Area.  

This event is sponsored by the Oakland Heritage Alliance. Community sponsors include California Preservation Foundation, the California Historical Society, and the GLBT Historical Society. California Pride is supported by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Walking The Key System’s C Line

October 1, 2015

Before BART crossed below the Bay, the Key System railway crossed above it. In the early 20th century, the East Bay's Key System built its second line to Piedmont Avenue to develop real estate there. The line, later labeled the C, brought commuters all the way to San Francisco via the Bay Bridge's lower deck. Though the trains are long gone, join us on a tour to see their lasting impact on the area, including traces of an unbuilt line to San Jose. The tour begins at MacArthur BART and ends at Piedmont Avenuea great lunch spot. Walk or bus back to BART. The tour is led by Daniel Levy.

Co-presented by Oakland Heritage Alliance and SPUR. If you join or renew OHA membership the day of the tour, receive a $10 discount off member price. Please arrive at least 15 minutes before 10 a.m. start time.

Remembering Oakland’s Forgotten Movie Palaces

September 12, 2015

Come tour the Palace, Oakland’s oldest operating theater! Costumed performers from the venue’s new owner, production company Lucid Dream Lounge (LDL), will present the building’s storied past. Hear how it was built at the onset of the roaring ‘20s by wild vaudevillian Alan E King, then remodeled in 1931 by the Reid Brothers Architects who designed several other Bay Area landmarks including the Grand Lake Theater and the Cliff House. In the years since, it has served Oakland in some remarkably different capacities: a movie house, wartime housing, a church. Now LDL is using the space as a theater again while also performing a major restoration. Theatrical Director, Kristopher Mandell, will be our guide.

2015 Walking & Neighborhood Tours 

JULY 2015

Saturday, July 11, 2015 | 10 am  12pm | NEW TOUR!

Meet in front of 59 Broadway, near Water Street 
$10 OHA Members; $15 General  

Sunday, July 12, 2015  | 10 am –1:30 pm
Meet at Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Ave.
$10 OHA Members; $15 General

Saturday, July 18, 2015  | 10am –12:30 pm | NEW TOUR! 
Meet at Broadway Terrace, East of hwy 13, in front of the old Montclair Mart
$10 OHA Members; $15 General 

Saturday, July 18, 2015  | 10 am –12:30 pm | NEW TOUR!

Meet at Broadway Terrace, East of hwy 13, in front of the old Montclair Mart
$10 OHA Members; $15 General 

Sunday, July 19, 2015  | noon–4 pm
Neighborhood Tour and Sequoyah Country Club
reception 4–6 pm.

$25 OHA members, $35 general in advance
$30 members, $40 non-members at the door

Saturday, July 25, 2015  | 10 am –12:30 pm 
F. M. “BORAX” SMITH ESTATE with Phil Bellman.

Meet at Intersection of McKinley Avenue and Home Place East (1 block off Park Boulevard, in front of 1105 McKinley Avenue)
$10 OHA Members; $15 General

Sunday, July 26 | 10 am–1:30 pm

Meet at Chapel of the Chimes, 4499 Piedmont Avenue
$10 OHA Members; $15 General


Saturday, August 1 | 1–3:30 pm

Meet at front of the Montclair Branch Library, 1687 Mountain Boulevard
$10 OHA Members; $15 General

Sunday, August 2 | 10 am–12:30 pm | NEW TOUR!
Meet at  front of Studio One, 365 45th Street
$10 OHA Members; $15 General

Saturday, August 8 | 10 am–1 pm | NEW TOUR!
Meet at Parker Electric Co., 221 Washington at 3rd Street
$10 OHA Members; $15 General

Sunday, August 9 | 10 am–12:30 pm | NEW TOUR!
Meet in front of the Westlake Building (formerly the American Bank Building), 350 Frank Ogawa Plaza (12th St/City Center BART).
$10 OHA Members; $15 General

Saturday, August 15 | 10 am–12:30 pm | NEW TOUR!
EMPTY STOREFRONTS with Brock Winstead, Anisha Gade, Sue Mark.

Meet at Golden Gate Library, 5606 San Pablo Avenue
$10 OHA Members; $15 General

Sunday, August 16 | 10 am–noon | NEW TOUR!
Meet at Piedmont Plaza, near benches in the parking lot at 41st Street and Piedmont Avenue
$10 OHA Members; $15 General

Saturday, August 22 | 1 pm–3:00 pm
Meet near Camron Stanford House, 1418 Lakeside Drive
$10 OHA Members; $15 General

Sunday, August 23 | 1 pm–3:30 pm | NEW TOUR!
DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN with Kathleen DiGiovanni.
Meet at Vantage Point Park, foot of 13th Avenue at E. 12th Street
$10 OHA Members; $15 General

Saturday, August 29 | 10 am–12:30 pm
Meet near parking lot, 4055 MacArthur Boulevard
$10 OHA Members; $15 General

Sunday, August 30 | 10 am–12:30 pm | NEW TOUR!
PASEO DE FRUITVALE with Alex Saragoza, Holly Alonso, Maria Sanchez, Pamela Magnuson-Peddle, Betty Marvin.
Meet at Fruitvale BART, near the bike racks
$10 OHA Members; $15 General


For information about events, or to volunteer, please call the OHA office at 510-763-9218 or email info@oaklandheritage.org.