Charles Jurgens (January 2, 1844 - April 4, 1926)

  • Born in Waldeck, Germany.
  • Moved to Oakland in 1863 when the city had only three business blocks and deep sand covered the streets.
  • Married Katherine Springer, native of Germany, living in Oakland (? - 1913); they had two daughters (Bertha Jurgens (Steel)) and two sons (William C. Jurgens)
  • Lived first in San Antonio, working in a grocery store.
  • Established his own grocery store in Temescal, which later became North Oakland; sold the business in 1876.
  • Invested in real estate throughout Oakland, particularly the Downtown Oakland area.
  • Opened the St. John's House on 12th Street, complete with a basement and a plate glass storefront, a first for an Oakland business building.
  • St. John's House was the first business building on 12th Street, but his building innovations were criticized by the public.
  • Jurgens built the Globe Hotel at 13th Street and Broadway.
  • Proprietor of the Le Clede House.
  • Built both the Jurgens Block and the Central Block.
  • Owner of the Oakland Hotel Company.
  • Proprietor of the Golden Eagle House.
  • Created/built the Lux Theater.
  • Established the Charles Jurgens Company.
  • Was the proprietor of many other Oakland businesses
  • Was the Director of at least one of the Oakland banks.

The Report of the Board of Bank Commissioners of the State of California to the Governor of the State of California dated July 1, 1894 listed that Charles Jurgens, one of the Directors of the bank, had 50 shares of stock (out of 1,000 shares) in the California Bank and Trust Company - Oakland, incorporated August, 1887).  Jacob Greenhood had 191; S. M. Babbitt, 77; A. C. Henry, 150; J. W. Phillips, 75; Victor H. Metcalf, 15; W. W. Whitman, 10.  The total number of shares held by the Directors was 568 shares.

"The Charles Jurgens Company was the original owner and developer of 1515 Clay Street in 1917.  Jurgens was a German immigrant who came to Oakland in 1863.  After operating a grocery business for several years, Jurgens started developing both residential and commercial buildings in 1876.  Jurgens built some of the earliest brick commercial buildings in Downtown Oakland, including the Globe Hotel at 13th and Broadway, once of Oakland's first major hotels.  the John Breuner Company leased the building during their occupancy (1917 - 1931) and never held title to the property.  Between 1931 and 1948 numerous commercial enterprises owned the building.  The United States Government purchased the building from Capital Company on April 15, 1948." 2

In July 1925 Jurgens fought the condemnation of his Golden Eagle Hotel which was located at 16th Street and San Pablo Avenue which faced destruction as a "menace to public health and safety."  Jurgens again ran afoul of the Oakland City Council on July 22, 1925 when an ordinance "was passed ordering him to "destroy forthwith" a two story frame structure on the southeast corner of Sixteenth and Clay streets.  The building, according to Commissioner Frank Colbourn, who introduced the ordinance, projects onto city property on both Sixteenth and Clay streets, and was in addition a menace to public safety.  The structure was considered unsafe, the 'Trails' sagged, the floors were unstable and the entire building was thought to be unsightly, Colburn asserted.  The Golden Eagle Hotel was a two story frame structure, and its destruction has been before the council and the condemnation board for two years. 1

The following is Copy/Paste ... needs to be rewritten:

"Charles Jurgens, who is one of the oldest business men still active in the commercial life of Oakland, was born in Waldeck, Germany, January 3, 1844 In that country he was educated, pursuing his studies to the age of sixteen years, when, in 1860, he sailed for America. Landing in New York, he made his way to Michigan and remained in that state for three years, at the end of which time he started for California by way of the Isthmus route. Crossing the bay from San Francisco on the steamer Clinton, which then made daily trips between the two places, he settled in Oakland when the city consisted of but four business blocks and the streets were of deep sand. He engaged as a clerk in a grocery house in what was then called San Antonio and in 1868 embarked in business on his own account as proprietor of a grocery store in Temescal, now known as North Oakland. After conducting the business for several years he sold out in 1876 and built the St. Johns House, the first brick business block on Twelfth street, having a plate-glass front and a basement. The people generally considered the innovation foolish. He then built the present Globe Hotel, at Thirteenth and Broadway, conducting it until recently, when he leased it.

In 1905 he bought out the W. M. Watson Company and called it the Winedale Company, of which he is the president. He is a director in many large banks and business establishments, has dealt extensively in real estate and is one of the very wealthy men of Alameda county. He is regarded as a very active, energetic business man, wide-awake to the conditions of trade and at all times alert and enterprising. Fraternally Mr. Jurgens is a member of the Inde­pendent Order of Odd Fellows and is popular in that organization. In 1870 he was united in marriage to Miss Catherine Springer, who passed away in 1913, leaving two sons and two daughters. Mr. Jurgens has witnessed and helped in the growth of Oakland and he marks as epochs in the city’s development: 1863, when the Southern Pacific built the Seventh street line; 1868, when the Overland Railroad was completed; 1876, Centennial year, when the city had a rapid and unusual growth; and 1906, when the city really awoke from a village to realize its true destiny." 4

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Links and References

  1. Jurgens to Face Second Council Act Oakland Tribune July 22, 1925
  2. John Breuner and Company Building
  3. Charles Jurgens, Capitalist, to be Buried Tuesday Oakland Tribune April 5, 1926
  4. Charles Jurgens Past and Present of Alameda County by Joseph Eugene Baker