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HoP: The "Silk Farm" #8

Updated: Jan 18



Helen Stoddard Chenoweth

Piedmont High School - March 15, 1929.


One of the unusual features of the Piedmont district during the ‘90's was the "silk farm," situated at the head of Oakland Avenue. This later became the home of Harmon Bell.

The mulberry trees upon which the silkworms were fed were transplanted from Oakland. The silk farm was later the site of Tompkins School. W. W. Blair, of the Street Department of the City of Oakland, when a small boy earned his first precious $25 in transporting the first load of silk worms for the United States Government from Oakland to the silk farm. The farm was abandoned when it was found that silk culture would not be profitable. This was one of the first attempts to produce silk in the United States.


In 1907 Piedmont had grown sufficiently large to be incorporated as a town. Although completely surrounded by the great City of Oakland, which has annexed practically all neighboring districts, the little community of Piedmont has declined to be absorbed by its metropolitan neighbor. In 1911, four years after the incorporation, the City of Piedmont boosted a substantial new civic headquarters which was a combined fire-house and city hall, It also had erected a fine new school building. The single teacher of the ‘80's had grown to seven instructors, while instead of a handful of children the Piedmont school district claimed 200 boys and girls. The present school building - the high school - was erected at a cost of more than forty-five thousand dollars, the land alone being valued at $27,500.- In 1910 the handsome concrete Oakland viaduct was constructed.



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