A huge benefactor in Piedmont was Wallace Alexander, In 1913, he gathered several successful Piedmont businessmen to purchase land opposite Piedmont Park, and hired Albert Farr to design the Piedmont Commercial Center, the first stores in Piedmont. Alexander also saved Piedmont Park from development in 1921 by purchasing the land (when the city had no funds) and selling it back to the city the following year.
By the 1910s, Piedmont’s population was expanding rapidly. Just as these residents needed a grocery store, they were also outgrowing Mowbray Hall, the 1908 Sunday School, and needed a church.
When Wallace Alexander led a group of residents to purchase land for the commercial center,
he also purchased an adjacent 1-1/2 acres and offered that land for a church. Alexander then hired Albert Farr to design it and construction began in 1916.
Oakland moving and storage : entrepreneur, Rotarian, and philanthropist : oral history transcript / 1973 by Lyon, Harvey Blanchard, 1883; Bancroft Library. Regional Oral History Office:
Wallace Alexander was the man who invited me, calling down to Pleasanton where I was staying with a friend. He not only invited me, but when anyone around Piedmont said, "Wallace Alexander wants you," you answered, because Mr. Wallace Alexander was a prince of a man—we all thought and think.