There were at least two buildings known as the Central Block in Oakland. This seems to have been a common name; Alameda had its own Central Block, and a search of early newspapers turns up numerous examples across the country. To keep things confusing, there is also the Central Building, which is also referred to as the Central Block at least once, possibly in error. 2

East Lake Central Block

Scan of copy of picture of plaque, Historic Preservation Element

This was built in what is sometimes called the East Peralta neighborhood between 1880 and 1881 by Charles Jurgens, a major Oakland developer of the 19th century. It was designed by the architectural firm of J. C. Mathews & Son (Walter J. Mathews), in an Italianate style with Eastlake elements to the building, the Central Block was located at 1102-1118 East 12th Street in Oakland.

On July 20, 1982 the Central Block was designated Oakland Landmark #59, under Zoning Case #LM 82-127.

In 1986 the building was demolished after being damaged by a fire. The Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board and the property owner installed a marker in 1990 at the site with a brief description of the history, as a prototype for a citywide Landmark plaque program.1

Downtown Central Block

from Illustrated Directory of Oakland 1896

[to be fleshed out - there was a separate Central Block building at 12th and Broadway, where in 1887, Mrs. M. P. Farrar, Proprietress had "Elegant Rooms, Furnished and Unfurnished at Moderate Prices" at 1068 Broadway, Upstairs, on the Central Block, located in the Business Center of the City, with "Cable and Fruit Vale Cars Pass the Entrance."]

1874 ad1876 ad

Central Building?

There's some confusion between the Central Block (12th and Broadway) and the Central Building (14th and Broadway). While it's possible they were both called the Central Block, it seems that the error came about in a 1952 article about the early banks of Oakland. 2 The 1952 article says "In 1925 the old landmark of the Central Block was torn down, and the present 15-story headquarters was built on the same site." 2 (this refers to 14th and Broadway.) But as late as 1914, the 12th and Broadway location was still referred to as the Central Block. 3

Links and References

  1. Oakland General Plan, Historic Preservation Element, Chapter 6
  2. Money Men in Pioneer Days Played It Close to the Vest Oakland Tribune May 18, 1952
  3. classified ad Oakland Tribune July 12, 1914