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Other Schools

Two other schools that were in Piedmont were the Piedmont Academy for Boys and the Sisters of the Holy Family both at the Butters Mansion at 327/328 Hillside Avenue (no longer existing)

Original owner -

Harry Butters, R.F.A., "an American citizen"; life and war letters

by Butters, Henry Augustus, 1892-1916; O'Sullivan, Denis, Mrs

Publication date 1918


We who are truly Californian believe ourselves still too young for the completion of any history. When the life, the American life, of the State itself dates from 1849, how has there been time for any individual drama?


Yet, coming back to Piedmont, which I last knew in 1891, when a delicious spring stretched, unobstructed, in green vistas down to the isolated blue jewel of Lake Merritt, I realise that a town has encroached upon these hills, that houses have been built, have grown old, have even been re- placed. And if houses, how much more the lives they sheltered!


One such house stares at me across its lawns and opulent overgrown palms; raises the meaningless turrets and gables of an architecture of the early nineties. Piedmont has since built itself so beautifully one marvels at the respect it once paid these big ugly expensive homes. Yet there is a friendliness about them, a comfort in the low steps and frequent verandas, an ease in the opening of one overfilled room into another. And around them is all the luxuriance of flowers and blue sky and sunshine; the ample spaces of California, the clear, clean, invigorating air.

If any world is to produce a new type, surely 'twill be this world between the Pacific and the Sierras, where beauty and lavishness crowd out meaner aspects . . . where cities can be reborn in ten astounding years . . . where the human plant develops, unhampered, in the superb air.


This air, this green Piedmont, this big yellow house, sheltered an existence so splendidly full and vigorous that one likes to think it an embodiment of California. It ended in twenty-four years . . . on the other side of the world, in one blinding instant, under those stars that look down on the Somme.

But the twenty-four years had been as full as a slower age or race would have taken twice twenty-four to equal. They promised to be the forerunners of as many more, and as many more again, of all that life can give of gaiety, of happiness, success, men's praise. And they were sacrificed, not carelessly, not by an accident, but after serious reflection, in an alert consciousness of the cost.

map of the boys academy 1.jp2

California has perhaps not realised the meaning of this war. The issues are still obscured here. But they were vivid to one boy's clear eyes; were sanely considered; the logical deduction logically acted upon; the price paid.

So these lovely Piedmont hills, with the wide streets and new houses of to-day, the wooden palaces of an earlier period; with Diablo and his fellow mountains rising blue behind them; before them, San Francisco and the deep Bay ; and, always splendid and serene, Tamalpais against a western sky . . . these will be the background of other stories. But shall we see again so erect and fine a figure moving gaily out of certain prosperity to almost certain death?


The Igloo,


February, 1917.

Harry Butters by Butters, Henry Augustus, 1892-1916; O'Sullivan, Denis, Mrs - Publication date 1918

... of the ''Igloo,'' the little bachelor house he built himself on a corner of his Piedmont property, a tall hedge separating it from the big yellow Alta Vista ;"

The San Francisco Call - Thu - Oct. 28, 1909:


Heirs Leave Alta Vista, Scene of Former Social Activity at Upper Piedmont

Alta Vista, the mansion in upper Piedmont which was the residence for years of the Henry A.  Butters family, has been closed in consequence of Mrs. Henry Butters' death. Members of the family, including Mrs. Georgiana Cook, young Henry Butters, Miss Marie Butters and Miss Marguerite Butters, have taken up their residence for the present with Mr. and Mrs. Robert Augustus Bray at their Piedmont villa.



The closing of Alta Vista revives memories of many large social affairs which were given there during the years that preceded the separation of Henry Butters and his wife, who passed away several months after his demise. It is understood among the family friends that the big mansion was closed on account of the complications which have arisen over the estate of Mrs. Butters. She was given the property by her husband years ago. In her will, she
gave it back to Butters during his lifetime and upon her husband's death it was to go to their son, Henry A. But-
ters Jr.

No change was made in the will touching those provisions, although Butters' death preceded that of his wife. Young Butters' income from the estates of his father and mother, fixed altogether at $300 a month, was not considered sufficient to warrant the family in maintaining Alta Vista under the heavy expense that would be necessary should it be kept open.

Piedmont ​Academy for Boys (Piedmont Hills Academy for Boys)

Academy for Boys

The San Francisco Examiner - Sun - Jul. 31, 1921

It is not often there is found in these ultra-modern days a private school like the Piedmont Hills Academy embodying at once the best that the present has to offer, built upon the democratic traditions which produced Lincoln and Roosevelt, The teachers in this school are men who never lose sight of the ideal of character building in their work, and they have been fortunate in having the cooperation
of parents who are no longer willing to accept scholarship which barely permits the boy to "get by with it." Thoroughness is the watchword of this particularly live and growing school, Piedmont Hills Academy.

Situated in the heart of beautiful Piedmont, with its quiet residences and fair gardens, the pupils are yet near enough to the hills to have the delightful experience of out-door freedom so essential to a boy's health and happiness.


The small classes have proved of the greatest possible benefit to backward
or irregularly graded boys. The country day school plan of keeping the boys at supervised play until 5 o'clock each evening has demonstrated its value to the busy mothers whose afternoons are thus secured to them for other interests. Under this plan a hearty dinner is served to the boys at noon, a further simplification of domestic problems.

Manners and deportment are taught in this school. This, however, does not mean modern dancing, but correct and manly conduct in all the walks of life. Athletics are also decidedly to the fore at Piedmont Hills, and the professor in charge is a college coach of long experience.


The school creed is Cardinal Newman's "Definition of a Gentleman," a classic of man hood's highest ideals, calculated to produce the best type of citizenship.
Norman H. Nesbitt, M. A., Ph. D., is the principal, and the men on his staff are college graduates with teaching experience. Mrs. Nesbitt, who had many years of public school primary work, is in charge of the new primary department for boys below the fourth grade. The fall terms openon September 6.

San Francisco Chronicle - Sun - Aug. 10, 1919


San Francisco Chronicle -Sun - Jul. 30, 1922

San Francisco Call - Jul. 30, 1920

Piedmont Academy's Country Day School Is Popular Feature

One of the Piedmont Academy's strongest features is its adoption of the “country day school" plan. Day boys at Piedmont attend from 9 a. m. to 6 p. m. everyday of the school week, and enjoy supervised play, athletics or hikes into the country on Saturdays. Mothers find this idea an admirable help where help is most needed. It is the theory of the school that the growing boy needs a man to handle him. and the trustees believe they have secured instructors who are above par, not only in academical training and physical culture, but also in breeding and character. Norman H. Nesbitt. M. A., the principal, has a national reputation as an exponent of modern pedagogical ideas. The board of directors includes Nathan H. Frank, president; R. Stanley Dollar, vice president, and David S. Edwards. The school is a non-sectarian institution. The academy is situated in the best section of Piedmont, on Hillside, Bonita ind Vista avenues. The former Henry Butters mansion is the main residence building, and a commodious new school building was erected last winter. The grounds are ideally laid out and there is ample playground.

San Francisco Chronicle - Sun - Jul. 31, 1921

Supervised Play Part of Thorough System in Popular Academy

With the opening of the fall term. Piedmont Hills Academy for boys - formerly Piedmont Academy for Boys - will enter upon its third year a fully demonstrated success. Several changes have been made under the new directorship. Dr. Norman H. Nesbitt now being sole owner and principal or the school Besides increasing the all-university-graduate-teacher faculty, Dr. Nesbitt has introduced the country day school plan for taking care of boys entering the day school department, Under this plan boys are cared for each day until 5 P. M. a hearty noonday meal being served at lunch time, That this will prove cardinal feature in taking care of boys registered in the day department is demonstrated by the number of boys entering from Oakland Berkeley and Piedmont under this plan.

Thoroughness rather than speed is the faculty's aim in tutoring boys, and by limiting each class to ten pupils the ope rule of discipline-obedience-and the building of sturdy spirit of democracy, based on Christian principles, has built up a list of patrons for this school equal
to those of many old-established in-situations

Two afternoon hours of supervised play with coaching in soccer, baseball and other field Rames, have been found by Dr. Nesbitt to be a fine stimulus to body building and manliness. 


This year a primary department for boys in the first three Krades has been added. This department is under the direction of Mrs. Norman H Nesbitt, who has had many years of experience in primary work. The intermediate and high school grades, in charge of men who are university graduates are divided into the upper and lower schools. In the upper school, owing to the small classes and intensive methods, some work is done with ease that is included in the freshman and sophomore courses in universities.

Under the new management a new residence building and tennis court have been added to the school at 327 (328) Highland Avenue, Piedmont, within a stone's throw of the school buildings and playgrounds on Vista, Hillside and Bonita avenues.

The principal, Norman H. Nesbitt M A., Ph. D. is well known through out the country in educational circles as an exponent of modern methods in pedagogy and as a successful lecturer Each season Dr. Nesbitt gives a series of fortnightly talks at the academy on English, French and American writers. These informal lectures are open to parents of Piedmont hills boys and all who are interested in literature.

Another interesting feature of the academy work 16 a weekly current events class for the upper school, conducted by the principal, to which parents and visitors are invited 'The school made a real home for boarding boys and the resident teachers see that there is no opportunity for homesickness. In school and residence the boy is treated as an individual rather than one of a group.

Oakland Tribune - Sun - Jan. 1, 1922


An Academy of Character for Boys would be a more fitting name for the Piedmont Hills, Academy, one of the finest schools of its kind in this section of the country, situated at Vista and Bonita avenues in Piedmont.


For here boys from all ages are taught to live the best that is in them to live, especially through the time of passing from boy to young
man, which is so important in the making of man's character.

This school is under the supervision of Norman H. Nesbitt, M. A., whose one aim is to build and mold character in a boy. His school has become recognized for the success which it has had along these lines. He has received letters from practically every state west of the Rockies, in which parents have lauded his work personally and the work of the school over which he supervises. Along with character building goes body building, and the Piedmont Hills Academy has a very excellent physical training department. Registration during the past year at this academy has more than doubled, and the success is due, according to Mr. Nesbitt, to the reputation which his school has attained throughout California as an educational center for Boys. 


San Francisco Chronicle - Tues - Jul. 29, 1919


Oakland Tribune - Thu - Jan. 15, 1920


San Francisco Chronicle - Sun - July 31, 1921


Sisters of the Holy Family


Oakland Tribune - Sun - Sep. 3, 1922

Oakland Tribune - Sun - Sep. 10, 1922

What was formerly the beautiful and famous home of the late Henry Butters and his family is today consecrated to the welfare of humanity as a convent of the Sisters pf the Holy Family.

The former Butters. mansion was known as Alta Vista, and is located on Hillside avenue in Piedmont. It was constructed by Butters twenty-five years (1897) ago and is noted for its beauty of architecture.

The house, which was remodeled to fulfill the varied needs of community life, was dedicated by impressive ceremonies on Monday test, by Arehbishop Edward J. Hanna and other well known dignitariés of the church in the bay region.

The Holy Family Sisters Of San Francisco: A Sketch Of Their First Fifty Years, 1872-1922by Kavanagh, D. J. (Dennis John), Publication date 1922

1922— September 4. New Convent at Piedmont blessed by Most Rev. Archbishop E. J. Hanna.

 An advantageous purchase has but recently been made, that of the old home of Mr. H. Butters at Piedmont, known as "Alta Vista." Instead of a new building the Convent at Eighth and Chestnut Streets will be renovated and will make a comfortable and commodious Day Home for the children, while "Alta Vista" will be used as the Sisters' future Convent.

History of Alameda County, California
by Merritt, Frank Clinton

The Society of the Holy Family was founded in San Francisco, November 6, 1872, by Mgr. J. J. Prendergast. The first sister was Mother M. Dolores, who died in August, 1905. The sisters specialize in the spiritual and social improvement of the children, endearing themselves to the hearts of all. The mother house of the Order is still in San Francisco, but their ennobling work has spread to San Jose, Fresno and Los Angeles, in which cities they maintain branch houses. The sisters also have a day home at 1086 Eighth street, Oakland. Their new home at 328 Hillside avenue, Piedmont, was dedicated by Archbishop Hanna, September 4, 1922, and greatly facilitates their work among the children of the district. Mother M. Consilio is now at the head of the society, the members of which are held in the highest esteem by all, regardless of creed or profession.

Oakland Tribune - Fri - Sep. 16, 1949

Liberalizing of zoning restrictions to permit the Sisters of the Holy Family to accept and occupy the Ernest J. Sweetland home at 11 Glen Alpine Road was one step closer today.

The City Council last night passed an ordinance calling for a special election to be consolidated with November's state election for the purpose of reclassifying the zoning in the area around the residence. The Sweetlands, who plan to give the home to the Catholic organization, requested the change in zoning regulations, which now stipulate that only "single families" can occupy homes in the area.

A similar change in zoning was made to allow the organization to occupy its present headquarters, 328 Hillside Avenue,

The San Francisco Examiner - Sun - Oct. 30, 1949


Piedmont Vote On Zoning Action to Approve Gift Home to Nuns
A change in the Piedmont residential zoning ordinance to permit the Sisters of the Holy Family to accept for occupancy a single dwelling at 11 Alpine Road is sought in Proposition B on the Piedmont special election ballot November 8.


The property in question is owned by Mr. and Mrs. Ernest J. Sweetland, who desire to make it available to the twenty-two nuns now residing in antiquated quarters at 328 Hillside Avenue, Piedmont. Certain restrictions designed to guarantee retention of residential aspects of the property are proposed as a contingency to the gift.

The Sisters of the Holy Family, organized in San Francisco in 1872, number 320 throughout the State. Their time and efforts are devoted solely to charity. Piedmont voters were informed yesterday that owners of property adjoining 11 Alpine Road favor passage of Proposition B.


The San Francisco Examiner - Sun - Oct. 30, 1949

Corpus Christi School

Oakland Tribune - Sun - Dec. 25, 1955

Parish Wins Building OK For School


Construction will begin shortly on the Corpus Christi parochial school, which was the subject of a court battle between the Corpus Christi Catholic Church and the City of Piedmont.


A building permit for the $275,000 structure was issued yesterday. It will be built on Park Blvd. between St. James and Estates drives.

The issuance of the permit came after a battle of more than a year over a Piedmont zoning ordinance banning private schools. The State Supreme Court recently held the zoning law unconstitutional and a rehearing appeal was denied. The Piedmont City Council then voted to drop the legal fight Corpus Christi Church officials termed the issuance of the permit "a wonderful Christmas present."

The school will be two stories high on the Park Blvd. street level with 30 classrooms, offices, auxiliary rooms, auditorium, cafeteria and gymnasium. About 300 children in the grades one through eight are expected to enroll when the school is completed,

1 Oakland_Tribune_Mon__Apr_1__1957_.jpeg

Oakland Tribune - Mon - Apr. 1, 1957


Oakland Tribune - Mon - Apr. 1, 1957

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