Charles Manning ("C.M.") MacGregor (September 23, 1871 – October 13, 1954) was a builder who constructed thousands of homes and other buildings in Oakland and the East Bay. He was known as "One-Nail MacGregor" and is considered "the builder of Albany." 2

MacGregor was born to Manning MacGregor and Charlotte Anne Hyland (MacGregor) in Nova Scotia in 1871. He was the younger brother of John Ryle MacGregor, who urged him to move to Oakland which he did in 1889. MacGregor married Lena Gertrude Covert (MacGovern) (November 19, 1867 – November 4, 1951) in 1892, and they had six children: Charlotte, Leighton, Florence, Dorothy, Marian, and Ethel. The MacGregors lived in Piedmont from 1909 until Charles' death in 1954.


After working as a carpenter for hire, he saved enough money to become a builder in 1896. In 1904, he began designing his own buildings. 1 He said it was because he used to go put in an extra nail for good measure after his men had knocked off work. 3 MacGregor had his office in Oakland, including at 519 - 32nd Street (1907). and 470 - 13th Street (1922).

The "One-Nail MacGregor" name either came from his thriftiness or from his competitors detraction that he never spared an extra nail. 1 Regardless, his homes were very well built and are prized today. In Albany, where MacGregor built approximately 1,500 homes, they started having "MacGregor Day" in 1936. There were two schools named for him in Albany, MacGregor High School and a former primary school. 2 Leighton St. near Piedmont Ave. is supposedly named for his son. 3

Pages tagged “Charles MacGregor”

Add new "Charles MacGregor"

  • 3781 Leighton Street, a "4-square bungalow" built in 1906
  • 2501 E. 28th St, built for Frona P. Harms in 1922

Links and References

  1. Charles Manning MacGregor, indefatigable builder on
  2. Charles MacGregor – The “Builder of Albany”
  3. Naming Our City Streets Oakland Tribune August 14, 1960