It was the same old weather story for our Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays group last Wednesday. Tuesday the winds had been extreme and the forecast was for possible snow on Thursday, but we had another wonderful morning for our weekly walk. It was a little cold with the temperature in the upper 40s, but everyone had sweatshirts and jackets, and was ready to walk. There was a solid, holiday week turnout of 31 walkers and three K-9 best friends at the Exedra.
The City eNewsletter reported the Linda off-leash dog park was temporarily re-opened. It said they will keep it open as long as it is possible do to so safely, but that it will likely close temporarily after rain events. So, we and our K-9 best friends had a window to go see it before the coming rain or snow. Schools were out this week and we could also see Beach and Havens Schools, as well as historical surrounding streets. We headed off down Magnolia Avenue, and stopped at Bonita Avenue to see if construction had started on the new aquatics center. Not much was visible yet, so we continued up Bonita past signs on the fences with pictures of a beautiful future pool. We stopped in front of Havens School. It was shared that after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake, thousands of people fled the city, and Piedmont grew ten times over the next year. Piedmont was incorporated the following year, and city leaders decided to build two schools. The first opened in 1911 and was named "The Bonita Avenue School," but was later renamed after the land donor, Frank C. Havens. After a brief discussion of the school's construction history we continued on to and down Oakland Avenue. We crossed Grand Avenue and walked to the entrance of Linda Park at Sunnyside Avenue. We went down a path looking for the off-leash dog park and came to a latched gate. Inside it and a little further on was a set of stairs leading to a bare, open hillside. About a half dozen dogs with their young best friends were playing on it. Our K-9 best friends joined in while the attached group picture was taken. After a short stay, we returned to the path and found renovations that were recently made in Linda Park. The Parks Department removed some excessive grass, and replaced it with a new lawn, native plantings, benches, and a picnic table. We could see children across the way participating in the Recreation Department's Schoolmates program playing on the Beach School playground. We emerged from the park on Linda Avenue and went over to Lake Avenue and the front of the school. After "The Bonita Avenue School" quickly filled, "The Lake Avenue School" was built in 1913. There, four teachers taught 100 students in six grades. In 1918, the school was renamed the "Egbert W. Beach School" in honor of Egbert William Beach, the first Piedmonter killed in World War. All the students were housed in portables. In 1933 the original buildings were condemned as a firetrap and an earthquake menace, and torn down in 1934. Beach School was replaced in two separate Depression WPA projects. The main wing was built in 1936, and the auditorium/classroom wing was added in 1940. It was an entire new building of eight classrooms, kindergarten, administrative unit, library, health room and auditorium. In the early 2000s, as part of city-wide seismic facility upgrades, Beach was temporarily relocated to Emeryville with school buses shuttling Piedmont students to and from Emeryville. In the fall of 2012, Egbert W. Beach School re-opened. The updated facilities included two new classrooms, new outdoor/playground facilities, an edible garden, and seismic upgrades. We continued up Lake to Howard Avenue and then up Nace Avenue. This section of Piedmont goes back to the city's early days. The streets, Nace, Howard, and Lake, were are built around 1908. The oldest house on Nace is the "Gibson House" at 46 Nace, built in 1910. The current owner, Dave Yam, was outside. He told us a former owner was a man named Fenton, who also owned a dairy, and when he sold the home he left behind a number of large freezers for ice cream. It was also reported that a Mrs. Gibson grew up at 46 Nace. She once told a neighbor her father was the original owner of the house. There is a giant tree in front of the house that Mrs. Gibson remembered planting with her father sometime in the 1920s. All the history was interesting, but it was time to head back. We went up to Greenbank Avenue, down it, across Grand Avenue, up to Oakland Avenue, and down El Cerrito Avenue to Magnolia. We arrived back at the Exedra a little past noon after a three mile walk that had K-9 best friend park fun and lots of Piedmont history.