Our Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays group had another
good weather day for our walk last Wednesday and there was a strong turnout
of over 30 walkers on hand at the Exedra.
There were a few announcements. We are going to return to the Mt. View
Cemetery on October 26th for a pre-Halloween tour that will be conducted by
docent Jane Leroe. Jane guided us on a walk just before Halloween last year
that was enjoyed by all.
It was also announced that this day, September 28th, was "National Drink
Beer Day," which seemed like a good set up for sharing two coming events. On
October 7th there is going to be the Piedmont Beer Festival, a fundraiser at
801 Magnolia for the Piedmont Center for the Arts, and on October 16th there
will be the Piedmont Boosters Club Oktoberfest fundraiser at the Piedmont
Our group tries to walk every safe walking Piedmont street during the year,
and at the end of September there were only a few we hadn't gotten too. Two
of them were Kingston Avenue and the portion of upper Grand Avenue from
Oakland Avenue to Pleasant Valley Road. On this section of Grand there is a
new home being completed on a lot that was vacant for many years because it
seemed unbuildable. We thought it would be interesting to see what had been
built. Jim Kellogg and Will Adams, who also writes the regular "Walking
Piedmont" articles in the Piedmont Post, were with us and could offer their
professional thoughts about the house.
Kingston is just west of Grand and we could visit it too. Kingston and the
parallel Rose Avenue have some of the oldest homes in Piedmont, and they
would be interesting to see. Additionally, walker and Piedmont historian
Meghan B once lived at 780 Kingston, a house built in 1892, and she
could provide some history on it. So, old and new Piedmont construction was
the theme for the morning's walk.
Our long line of walkers headed off going down Magnolia Avenue past the
recently completed high school buildings to the 300 block of El Cerrito
Avenue. There was a forest of lawn signs in homes' front yards showing
support for school board and city council candidates.
We continued on to and down Oakland Avenue and noted more new home
construction and remodeling along the way. It took two cycles of the stop
lights at Oakland and Grand to get all of us across the street and going up
Grand. At Cambridge Way we came upon a home we had seen on past walks that
needed some loving care. It was getting it with extensive foundation,
window, and landscaping work.
Not far up Grand we came to the new house that is now almost completed. We
were impressed by its design and construction. It is a large home, built
with lots of concrete, up a steep incline. Architects Will A and Jim
K said with all the concrete in its base there is nothing to worry
about here in an earthquake. It is "the safest home in Piedmont." It's new
and different, but the house still fits with the surrounding homes. The
architects liked it, and so did the rest of our group.
After a thorough visual review of the house, we continued up to Rose Avenue
where Grand Avenue becomes Pleasant Valley Road at the Oakland city line.
Rose runs parallel to Kingston, but Kingston ends one block away at
Greenbank Avenue, so we walked up Rose to Linda Avenue before walking down
one block on Linda to Kingston. We enjoyed Rose's many old homes that were
built the 1900s, 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, and a beautiful Victorian at 950
Kingston that was built in 1894. We liked it so much we posed for the
attached photo in front of it.
When we came to Kingston we crossed Linda and when up to Meghan B's
former home at 780 where its story and that of the house next door were told
from research done by Piedmont Historical Society. These two
homes were built in 1892 by William Vickery and his sister, Elizabeth
Vickery Hadden, for $4,300 and $3,300. They were the first homes on this
street that was then called Summit Avenue. The houses were built in the
fashionable Shingle style of the 1890s. The backyard of the house at 778 is
one of the deepest in Piedmont going back 150 feet and the entire lot is 220
feet deep. Neighborhood lore says the two houses shared one kitchen and the
two families ate their meals together.
There was more history shared and enjoyed, but the long walk to Piedmont's
north border with Oakland had taken more time than usual for our walks, and
it was time to head back to the Exedra. We made our way back via Arroyo and
Ramona Avenues with a 107 foot path walk down to Park Way. Then it was on to
Hillside and Magnolia Avenues, and the Exedra.
It was a longer than usual walk of just over three miles, and almost two
hours, but the contrast of Piedmont homes built almost 150 years apart was
striking and made the extra time and steps worthwhile. The uniqueness and
beauty of Piedmont's eclectic new and historic homes was appreciated.