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A dry walk in the Highlands

A set of 14 members of our Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays group once again got lucky with the weather this Wednesday. For almost all of 2022 we had walks with no rain. However, a set of storms was forecast to start off 2023 with strong winds and heavy rain coming in Wednesday, but there was a window in the forecast from 9 AM to 1 PM with no rain. Our 10:30 AM to noon walking time fit just within this good weather window. So, it provided the prospect of another great morning for walking. Our weather-fearless 14 walkers with three of their K-9 best friends were at the Exedra, and ready to go.

We took the attached group photo in front of the Exedra, and also attached is the route map that

Mike provided.

Given the uncertainty of the weather, Mike and Nancy wanted to be conservative in planning how long and far the walk would be. They decided to stay in central Piedmont and keep the walk pretty level; but if there was no serious rain the route could be extended. As it turned out, that's exactly

what happened.

Mike and Nancy led us up Highland Avenue to the Guilford Road loop and back to Highland and then down to Requa Road and up it to Hazel Lane. There it was remembered from past walks and Gail Lombardi Piedmont Historical Society research that this was once the entrance to a historical spot.

At the start of the twentieth century, Amy Requa Long wanted her daughters to have good educations, so she got Isaac Requa to build a one-room schoolhouse for her on his property at what is now the end of the Requa Place cul-de-sac. Amy Long hired a teacher for her daughters and a few neighborhood children. This was the very first school in Piedmont. Interest in the private school grew and in 1905 Amy leased a house at the corner of Highland Avenue and Hazel Lane. She also hired Marion Ransom and Edith Bridges from the Anna Head School in Berkeley to be the new school's teachers. The school attracted the daughters from many prominent Piedmont

and California families, and soon outgrew its space. In 1908 Amy Long hired Julia Morgan to design a new school building with classroom and dormitory rooms on five acres of land that is now Hazel Lane. The new Miss Ransom and Miss Bridges School for Girls opened in 1913.

However, the Stock Market crashed in 1929 and the following Depression created financial difficulties for many parents sending their daughters to the Ransom Bridges School. Piedmont High, which opened in 1921, was less expensive and Ransom Bridges' enrollment declined dramatically. In 1932 there were only 12 graduating seniors and it closed in June that year. In

1936 the school building was demolished and the land was developed by architect Albert Farr as Ransom Gardens.

We noted that up Hazel Place was where the Requa mansion once stood looking out at the Bay. The group walked to the tall redwood tree at 71 Hazel Lane, where the entrance to the Ransom Bridges School once was. We walked through the Hazel Lane loop to the school's former site at 141 Hazel Lane. Architect Jim Kellogg expressed admiration for the Albert Farr craftsman design of the home now there. The beauty of the stone wall in front of the house and the house's copper gutters were also noted.

We completed the Hazel Lane loop and returned to Highland and went back up it. We crossed the street and continued up to Piedmont Court. Along the way we walked on the sidewalk behind the wide strip of grass that was once Key System train track. It was speculated that the sideway is back off the street because the homes were there when the trains were in operation on what is now grass.

We went up Piedmont Court and noted the birdhouse in a front yard that is a miniature of the actual house. The path at the end of the street took us to Mountain Avenue. There was still no rain so we went down to Piedmont Park to see how much water was flowing in Bushy Dell Creek. There was a good flow, but we knew more was going to come soon.

There was still no rain and still some time to walk, so we took the park path behind Piedmont High School and went up to the campus. Students were on their holiday break, so we went through the campus, past the library and student center. From there we could see San Francisco, and the clouds and rain that were on their way. It was time to complete this campus loop, come

out on Magnolia Avenue, and get back to the Exedra before the incoming rain could end our long string of dry walks.

We had a dry, almost two mile, leisurely walk over about an hour. We had been lucky, but the long-range forecast said rain was possible next Wednesday too. However, we are hopeful we stay lucky, and that it never rains in Piedmont on Wednesday mornings.


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