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Community Center & Exedra


Community Heart, When Finished, Will Be Beauty Spot of Bay District.

Plans recently completed and providing for
& comprehensive scheme for the city's future development, including the construction of a new community center around the upper portion of Piedmont park, were announced today by members of the Piedmont Civic Association, who are behind the project.

A complete model of the proposed center has been constructed, the cost having been met by voluntary subscription, and a number of architects who were assigned to the work have finished designing the project, which, when completed, will be one of the beauty
spots of the bay region.


The plan has been developed under the auspices of the association in line with the progressive movement taking place in Europe and America with respect to town planning and covers the replotting of land and streets in the central section of the city around the upper portion of the park.


The work on the construction of the model was financed principalIly by W. I. Brobeck, Captain A. M. Merrill, James Tyson, Wallace
Alexander, Wigginton E. E. Creed, Walton N. Moore, Ransom Beach and several others.

Oakland_Tribune_Fri__Dec_29__1922_ copy.jpeg

Architects Houghton Sawyer, Albert Farr and C. W. Dickey, andLieutenant-Commander Robert E.Carney, U. S. Government engineer, collaborated in designing the work. Gregg O'Brien, working under the direction of the architects and engineer, made all the drawings, and Berthold v. Gerow executed the model.


In accordance with the plans for the proposed community center, the rearrangement of the streets at the upper end of Piedmont park will be one of the first steps in the actual construction of the center. Free and open traffic channels were given primary consideration, according to the architects, and to this end the work has been planned so as to eliminate the crossing of street railroad tracks at three points. This has been accomplished by the rerouting of the tracks, carrying them through tunnels under the highway and permitting exit and entrance to the cars directly in the park.


This unique feature was created not only to impress visitors to the city favorably but to permit hundreds of children to pass to and from the cars and schools without danger from automobile traffic. According to the plans Highland Avenue has been widened at this point of carrying a causeway out over the east end of Piedmont Park. This will serve as a covered station for the street cars in inclement weather Board flights of steps from either end of the causeway will lead directly to the car platform, off which will be arranged public comfort stations for both men and women. The upper portion of the causeway will be developed as a terraced garden with fountain and flower beds, enclosing parapet, and all will be illuminated by cluster lighting standards.

The present triangular plot of land upon which the stores and the gasoline and oil service stations are located will be purchased by the city and the stores , will be removed, in accordance with the plans. Provision will be made for the stores and service stations elsewhere. This land will be used in part for the north tunnel approach and the balance for park purposes.

The soldiers' memorial will not be disturbed.

The removal of the stores will open up this portion of Highland avenue and widen the vista across the park, which will be still further accepted by the cutting off of the eastern portion of the block on the west side of Highland avenue between Vista and Magnolia, with Highland avenue Sweeping into Magnolia on a wide curve. The width of Magnolia avenue running toward the new Piedmont high school will be increased to provide a suitable approach to the school.

It is planned to leave 'undisturbed the specimen of eucalyptus on the axis of Highland avenue and create about it a safety station with beats and fountains. Beyondy this, on the same axis and projecting into Piedmont Park as a termination to the straight portion of Highland avenue, will be built an exedra, with terminal pylons and parapet walls and seat's and with broad flights of steps into the park.

It has been decided that the northern portion of the plot of land known as Guilford Place will be acquired by the city upon which to locate a new city hall. This site, it was pointed out, has the advantage of elevation, with Piedmont Park as a setting.


Sites have been selected for a library, museum, municipal market square, and the armory of the Piedmont battery, National Guard of California, for which the national government has provided more than $500,000 worth of equipment. The location of the library and museum is central, on the main traffic channel, convenient to the street cars and yet sufficiently removed to assure quiet. The municipal shopping district is also central and on the principal lines of traffic. The armory, possibly combined with a gymnasium, is convenient to the schools.

It was announced today that the Piedmont Civic Association does not propose that 'the scheme be carried out in its entirety at this time, but it does recommend the purchase by the city of such land as may be necessary to consummate the plans eventually. The plans and the model embody an ideal toward which the city, in its development, from time to time, may add a portion, until, within a period of from 10 to 15 years, the scheme may be completely realized.

In "laying out the plans for the community center, the architects and engineer, it was said, have kept in mind the conditions of the site and have made their plans to conform to it. They have followed the lines of natural contours and have purposely avoided a stiff balanced scheme. They have looked for a free and picturesque grouping for the smaller community rather than for one of pretentious and skilled formality.

Later phases of the Master Plan were never built. Construction of schools took priority, and the Junior High and Wildwood schools were built. The Depression ended all plans for grand construction. (still looking factual for verification backing up that it was the depression)


Oakland Tribune - Fri - Apr. 3, 1925:


First Unit in Program of Improvement Completed and Will Be Given Its First Meeting Tonight

The first unit In the extensive civic center beautification plans made by Piedmont citizens two years ago will be officially dedicated Friday night with the opening, of the new Community Building by the city council. The hall, which is constructed in section of the old Piedmont park, faces Highland avenue, and is of the bungalow type of architecture. Entrance to the grounds tonight, will be made through the recently completed Exedra, which forms a sort of Arch of Triumph along the northern boundary of the park front at the function of Highland and Magnolia avenues.

Tonight's dedication exercises will be opened with inspection of the Exedra and hall, conducted by the council this will be followed by a program in the new building, with W. I. Brobeck, prominent member of the Piedmont Civic Asociation as the principal speaker. Others who will talk are Mayor Oliver Ellsworth and Charles H. Bradley. Music for the occasion will be furnished by the Arlon Trio and a short monologue will be given by J. H. Millholland. Refreshments wil follow the program.


According to a recent announcement of the city council and Allen C. Hibbard, commissioner of public parks and buildings, the new hall will be reserved for the use of adults. Mayor Oliver Ellsworth in making this announcement stat that the building was primarily constructed for this purpose and to furnish ar armory for Battery D of the 145rd Field Artillery stationed in Piedmont. "We will discourage the use of the wall by younger people," he said, "as they already have their their high school, junior high school and quarters in the Piedmont church."


The upper part of the buildings given over to a large assembly hall with a stage at one end. Back of this stage are dressing rooms, while at the other end of the hall is located a kitchen, The basement has been given over to the  Battery which moved into its new quarters this week,

The grounds about the hall and Exedra are now in process of improvement, Howard Gilkey, former landscape engineer for the City of Oakland, having been retained to lay out the lawns, flower beds and gardens which are to transform the one time playground for Sunday visitors, Into a civic park, Many of the rustic features, such as the bridge spanning the tiny creek, will be retained. Well defined roads and paths leading through the grounds and to the Community Building are being constructed under the supervision of Clifford Almy, city street superintendent.

Tonight's exercises will formally end the career of the old Piedmont Park, which was opened in 1906 by Frank Havens as a playground
for Sunday exeurslonists. Baek of this move to remake the old park into a center of civic beauty are a group of prominent Piedmont
citizens, among them members of the city council, Samuel H. Taylor, president of the Civic Association: W. L. Brobeek, Wallace Alexander
James Tyson, Captain Charles A. Strong, Captain A. M. Merrill, and many others.

piedmont community center - Playground and recreation by Playground and Recreation Associa
1927 PHS excedra 2.jpeg
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Oakland Tribune - Tue - Oct. 21, 1924


Exedra Well Under Way and Magnolia Avenue Being Widened.

PIEDMONT Oct. 21. - Rapid progress on the civic center inprovements for which Piedmont recently voted $25,000 in bonds are being reported here. The old pavilion which formerly housed Battery D of the One Hundred and Forty-third Field Artillery, has been removed and work on the concrete exedra to be constructed along "he park front is well under way. This exedra will extend from
Mountain to Magnolia avenues, facing on Highland avenue, and is to be of early Spanish renaissance architecture.

Magnolia avenue, where it joins Highland is being widened and curbs and gutter's installed, a portion of the property adjacent to the city hall being cut away to widen this corner. The eucalyptus tree in the center of Highland avenue is to be left standing and there will be
built around it concrete benches and seats.

A committee appointed by Mayor Oliver Ellsworth consisting of members of the Piedmont Civic Association, selected a sight in the park for new community hall and recreational building for which bids have been accepted, on the edge of the ravine in the park and directly adjoining the temporary shacks now used for class rooms by the high school. This building is to house Battery D and serve for a community meeting place.


A road through the park to this hall is being built for the convenience of the battery. The path is to be cleaned up and new paths and roads laid out. Howard Gilkey, city of Oakland landscape engineer, has been retained to superintend this work, and states that very little extra planting will be necessary in the park.

Work on these units of civic center improvements is being rushed that they may be completed before winter rains set in.

Service roll - Piedmont Park.jpg
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