Wildwood School

Oakland Tribune - Wed - Feb. 27, 1924

Finding the history of Wildwood School has been a challenge, the earliest mentions I have found were in the Oakland Tribune - Sun - Oct. 14, 1923, a for sale posting for a house "within block of new Wildwood school", a blurb about the contractors and a relator's ad.

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Oakland_Tribune_Sun__Sep_9__1923_.jpeg

Oakland Tribune - Sun - Sep. 9, 1923

Oakland Tribune - Sat - Sep. 8, 1923

Oakland Tribune - Sun - Dec. 17, 1933

 

Tearing down of the last portable on the Wildwood Elementary School Grounds recently marked the close of a chapter in temporary school rooms in Piedmont covering a period of over 20 years.


With the completion of the building program the city now boasts four up-to-date, earthquake and bomb-proof schools, considered one of the most modern educational plants in the State,


The rapid growth of the city from 1920 to 1930 created school housing needs that could not be met with current school funds, and to make matters worse, it was at the close of this 10-year period that the Egbert W. Beach School buildings were condemned as an earthquake hazard and were torn down.


LEARN IN SHACKS
The entire enrollment at Beach was housed then in portables, and at the other two grade schools, Wildwood and Havens, approximately a third of the student body learned their three "R's" in the cramped quarters of the wooden "shacks."

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Oakland Tribune - Sun - Dec. 17, 1933

The situation was placed before the Piedmont voters but three elections for the school bonds failed to poll the necessary two-thirds vote.In 1936, application for Federal aid was made by the Board of Education and since that year, with the assistance of the PWA, a new two-story reenforced concrete building, comprising eight classrooms, a complete music and library department,
has been added to the high school.


ENTIRE NEW BUILDING
From 1936 to 1940 four projects were completed, providing an entire new building of eight classrooms, kindergarten, administrative unit, library, health room and auditorium at the Beach School. Similar projects, but not on such a wide scale, have been completed at both Havens and Wildwood and with the wrecking of the last portable at the latter school a week ago, according to the State Division of Architects, "Piedmont has a modern school district in which the children are safer than in any other shelter the city has to offer."

Living New Deal Website:

Project type: Education and HealthSchools

New Deal Agencies: Public Works Administration (PWA)Works Progress Administration (WPA)

Started: 1936

Completed: 1942

Quality of Information: Very Good

Status: Unmarked

Site Survival: Extant

Wildwood Elementary School in Piedmont CA was expanded under the New Deal, with the addition of new classroom buildings and an auditorium. Prior to that, about one-third of Piedmont students were being taught in temporary buildings (derisively called ‘shacks’ by the locals).

There had been three previous efforts in the 1920s to replace temporary school buildings in Piedmont but the bond issues lost (Tribune 1942).   After the school board sought and gained a promise of $83,000 in funding from the Public Works Administration (PWA) in 1933, a new bond issue for $233,000 passed in December of that year.  Of the total funds,  $79,000 were allocated for the Wildwood School (Tribune, Dec. 11, 1933).  Work on the schools began in 1936.  But the initial funds must have run out, because the School District sought further aid from the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1936 (which the Oakland Tribune appears to confuse with the PWA in its 1942 story).

Overall, the Piedmont schools rebuilding program erected 28 classrooms in new buildings at Wildwood, Havens and Beach Elementary Schools, as well as adding auditoriums at each one.  Beach School was completely rebuilt and additions were made to Piedmont High School, as well.  

In mid-1940, the Piedmonter reported that, “With WPA aid the program calls for the construction of auditorium units at Havens and Wildwood Schools during the year…..”  The last temporary classroom was torn down at Wildwood School in 1942  (Tribune 1942) and its new auditorium was dedicated on May 3d (Piedmonter 1942). 

The Wildwood School is simplified Mission Revival design, which is well kept up, but closely fenced in, making it difficult to photograph.  The auditorium sits behind classroom wing on the left, as one faces the main entrance. It is uncertain which classrooms were built with New Deal aid, but likely it is that wing.

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Oakland Tribune - Wed - Feb. 27, 1924

An interesting note is student participation in the creation of the auditoriums:  “The ceilings of each auditorium have a different theme. At Beach the theme is literature. At Havens it is California history, and at Wildwood it is U.S. history. Fifth and sixth graders painted the panels in a paint-by-number fashion before they were applied to the ceiling…..” 

1937 Wildwood 3rd Grade photo by S Denton.jpg

1937 Wildwood 3rd Grade photo by S Denton