Last Wednesday our Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays group had another wet Wednesday to deal with. Raincoats and umbrellas were necessary, but a good turnout of 16 water-resistant walkers and one K-9 best friend at the Exedra ready for a walk in the rain.
Will Adams, Piedmont architect, urban designer, Piedmont Post columnist, and Wednesday walker, had been scheduled to lead a tour of Mediterranean Style Architecture in Piedmont this week and also the week before. However, Will's tour was postponed again because of the rain so more walkers can enjoy it when the weather is hopefully better next week.
Instead, we decided on a walk closer to the Exedra in case the rain got worse. We would do the Hazel Lane loop and surrounding streets. Going to Hazel Lane would also let us recall the history of the Ransom Bridges School.
We went down Highland Avenue to its corner with Requa Road where we stopped for some research done by Gail Lombardi, Piedmont Historical Society president. 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 on his property at what is now the end of the Requa
Place cul-de-sac. She 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 Long leased the 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 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. Soon after more classrooms and a gymnasium were added. The school had dormitory rooms for up to 70 students from first grade through high school. In 1924
there were 186 students, and in 1928 there were 21 teachers and 42 graduating seniors.
However, the Stock Market crashed in 1929 and the following Depression created financial difficulties for many Ransom Bridges School parents. Piedmont High had opened in 1921 and was less expensive. 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 passed the tall redwood tree at 71 Hazel Lane, where the entrance to the Ransom Bridges School once was, and went through the Hazel Lane loop to the school's former site at 141 Hazel Lane. We admired the Albert Farr craftsman design of the home, and took a group photo in front of it. We also noted the neighborhood's first house at 152 Hazel Lane, and completed the rest of
loop, which took us back to Requa Road. We went up the Requa Place cul-de-sac to enjoy the views of San Francisco.
We retraced our steps up Requa Road and decided that despite the rain we weren't finished for the morning. We crossed Highland and went up Caperton Avenue to Mountain Avenue where we noted a life-size sculpture of a distinguished looking man in leaf covered suit in the garden of a front yard. Lois Price researched the statue, and it appears similar to a bronze sculpture, called "Man of Stones," that was created by Laurence Edwards and is near a river in Norwich, England.
We sloshed down Mountain to Craig Avenue where we noted a beautiful Italian Victorian. It was built in 1883 by Hugh Craig, Piedmont's first mayor, on Highland Avenue. In 1912 Highland was being expanded, and Craig had the home put on log rollers and pulled by horses to where it is now at 55 Craig. We went up Craig and found the somewhat secret back driveway entrance to the
Community Church. We walked down it through the church's courtyard, and noted the church's Californian Mission Revival architecture. It was a preview of the style Will Adams will be showing us next Wednesday, weather permitting.