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Isaac Lawrence Requa

The Check Collector by American Society of Check Collectors, Publication date 10/1/2009:

Isaac Lawrence Requa was bom in 1828 in the township of Tarrytoum, Westchester County, New York. In 1850, upon hearing of the riches in California, he embarked on a voyage to San Francisco by clipper ship around Cape Horn, and followed bis ambition to try mining. After a time mining in California, in 1861 he traveled to Virginia City, Nevada, with his newly acquired experience to leave his mark upon the Comstock Lode. Over the next eighteen years, he was the superintendent of the Cbollar-Potosi mines, the Gould & Curry mine, and the Union Mill and Mining Company. Isaac L. Requa was married in 1863, in San Francisco, to Sarah J. Mower. In the late 1870s, Isaac selected a site for a homestead at Piedmont, Alameda County, California, where they lived the rest of their lives. In the 1880s there were only seven houses where the City of Piedmont is now. The biggest house was owned by Isaac and Sarah Requa. It was painted yellow and, because there were no trees on the hills, sailors could see the house from San Francisco Bay. The Requa's called their house "The Highlands" and Highland Avenue is named after it.

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requa thrown from horse - Oakland_Tribun
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Oakland Tribune Sep 6, 1953:

'The Highlands'

In "The Highlands, Story of Piedmont Estate," Edward T. Planer whose contributions to research into history of this area are widely appreciated, again gave us an intimate details out of our recent past and background. What follows is from his typewriter: It has been said with some truth that Nevada's Comstock Lode built San Francisco. It can be said with complete veracity that Comstock wealth built one of the finest mansions to occupy the hills of present Piedmont. Isaac L. Requa was superintendent and chief engineer of the Combination Shaft Company of Virginia City, Nev., which, acting as construction agency for the Chollor-Potosi, Hale and Norcross, and Savage mines, sunk a mining shaft to be used jointly by the companies mentioned to a depth of 3150 feet below the earth's surface. With profits derived in part from the successful outcome of the daring engineering enterprise, Mr Requa acquired, in 1877, about 80 rolling, unimproved acres in the foothills back of Oakland, and there he developed "The Highlands," a baronial estate entering around a great fame house which overlooked Lake Merritt, the Bay, and the San Francisco peninsula beyond. The structure occupied a commanding knoll where present Hazel Lane and Requa Road meet. Isaac's daughter, Mrs. Amy Requa Mitten, continues to live on a portion of the estate, through her present residence is modern. Not only was "The Highlands" among the first impressive houses to be erected in Piedmont, but for years it was a prominent landmark, easily visible on its hilltop from San Francisco and the ferryboats. The mansion's color scheme of yellow with brown like trim endowed it with a beacon-like quality which made it recognizable from great distances.

An Era Passed

The towered, gabled, high-winded house contained 22 bedrooms, all of ample dimensions, while an adjoining wing was solely for the domestic help. In addition, 11 hired hands had other quarters on the estate. Since it was a long trip in horse-drawn vehicles to Oakland by way of Vernal Avenue (now Highland), Moraga Road, and Piedmont Avenue, the manor was, of necessity, all but self-sufficient. "The Highlands" had its own vegetable gardens, orchard, berry patches, dairy herd of 11 cows, stable with seven stalls and a grooming room, an illuminating gas manufactory, and an independent water supply from the wells on the property.  What was originally the architect's office during construction came to be a school house for the Requa children, Amy and Mark. The grounds were tastefully landscaped according to the style of the tines, Mr. and Mrs. Requa planted hundreds of trees -- pines, palms, gingkos, eucalyptus and ornamentals of all types -- on their property. A fountain and croquet court enhanced the attractiveness of the mansions, as did a handsome wooden fence and gateway along present Highland Avenue. Mrs. Mitten recalls vividly that the dinning room table would seat 24, and on many occasions in the expansive days of yore it was fully occupied with members of the family and such visiting guests as the A.N. Townes, the C.P. Huntingtons, Judge and Mrs. W. H. L. Barned, and Mrs. Catherwood, all of San Francisco; the James Moffittts, the A. K. P. Harmons of Oakland; Prof. George Edwards of the University of California, and the Thornbiurg of Berkeley. There are many old-timers who will recall the demolition of the mansions in 1923. It is safe to say that with its passing vanished an era not only in PIedmont's history, but in the self-sufficient pioneer life which made a gentleman's estate his castle and the center of the universe.

Isaac Requa - Oakland_Tribune_Thu__Jun_2
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Bicyclists with Penny Farthing bicycles stand in front of Isaac L. Requa residence, Highland Avenue and Hazel Lane, Piedmont, in the undated photograph by the firm of Rieman & Pray. Requa, a prominent businessman with interests in railroads and mines, was a pillar of Oakland society. (California Historical Society)

Oakland, the story of a city by Bagwell, Beth, 1938- Publication date 1982:

A crowd of friends gathered at the Piedmont home of Isaac Requa in about 1878 to witness a strange wonder. Requa was actually going to speak by telephone to a man all the way across the bay in the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. Would the contraption work? Sometimes it did, and then again, sometimes it didn't. It all depended on whether the wind had blown down a wire strung above Lake Merritt. When that happened, a telephone company man had to row out and fish the line out of the water.

San Francisco Call, Volume 97, Number 120, 29 March 1905:



Famous Financier Is No More

Isaac L. Requa, one of the foremost financiers of the coast and for many years prominently identified with railroad building in California, died shortly after midnight this morning at his home, The Highlands, on Piedmont Heights, Oakland. Death is attributed to nervous collapse, which his advanced age could not withstand. Deceased had been ill for several weeks, during which his attending physicians. Dr. A. Liliencrantz and Dr. A. S. Larkey, noticed signs of a general breaking up of their patient's once strong constitution, and prepared themselves for the end, which came this morning. Few men were probably more widely known in California than was Isaac L, Requa, who was a pioneer of the State, having come around the Horn in 1850. Arriving in San Francisco he proceeded immediately to the interior, where he engaged in mining and met with success. In 1860 he went to Virginia City, where he was soon actively engaged in the milling and mining business, and finally became superintendent of the Chollar-Potosi Mining Company and a director in other big mining concerns. As a mining engineer he gained distinction, installing in the Chollar-Norrrose-Savage shaft the heaviest machinery used on the Cornstock. Returning to California Requa established his residence in Oakland and became interested in the big railroad undertakings of the Huntington, Stanford, Crocker and Hopkins combine. He was president of the Central Pacific Railroad Company for many years and was also a director in other Huntington lines during the lifetime of the late Collis P. Huntington. For a number of years Requa took an active part In California politics, first. as a "Whig and later as a Republican. He was for a long time chairman of the Republican State Central Committee and was once tendered the nomination for Governor, an honor he promptly declined. During the latter part of his life his attention was devoted mainly to banking and principally to the affairs of Oakland Bank of Savings, of which he was the president. Requa was descendant of the Huguenots and was born in Tarrytown, N. V., eighty years ago. He is survived by a widow and two children. Mark L. Requa and Mrs. Oscar Long, wife of General Long. Many unfortunates knew Requa well for his many charitable acts, and not a few, who were his dependents, will have cause to regret his death.

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Requa obitiuary - The_San_Francisco_Call
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