1936 at 426 - 17th St.

Coleman Studio (also Coleman Photographic Studios) was a portrait studio beginning in 1924. c.1940 it became Colbourn Studio. For most of the time it was open, the studio was at 426 - 17th Street in the Wakefield Building, at one time having space on 3 floors and employing a number of photographers. Numerous portraits published in Oakland newspapers in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s were taken by them.

Coleman Studio

The studio started in 1924 when Kee Coleman and his wife Grace O'Neal (Coleman) bought out Kee Coleman's former partner, George Novak, and took over Novak Studio. At that time, the studio was at 510 - 15th Street. They announced they were expanding the studio because of increasing business. 1 Some early photos are still credited "Novak-Coleman photo." 4

In 1926, they moved to 426 - 17th Street. In 1928, they remodeled the third floor into 'Kiddyland', a studio specifically for photographing children. 2 Business must have been good, because in 1929 they acquired Habernicht Studios including the services of E.E. Johanson and the other personnel. 3

1931 brought big changes. A fire nearby at 1720-1724 Broadway in February was initially reported to have destroyed numerous negatives. 5 But an ad a week later assured people that no negatives had been lost, and there was no interruption to service.

Then in September 1931, Grace Coleman filed for divorce from Kee Coleman. 6 In the settlement, Grace kept the Oakland studio, and Kee kept the San Francisco studio which they had opened c.1929. His photos are credited "Kee Coleman photo" beginning around that time. (Kee also had a studio in Sacramento for a time. Sadly, Kee took his own life in 1946, but the Kee Coleman studio in San Francisco seems to have kept on for many years after that.)

1935 ad

Colbourn Studio

Frank Colbourn, Jr., son of city commissioner Frank Colbourn, was a partner from c.1935. In 1936, Grace Coleman and Frank Colbourn had the studio remodeled. On 3 floors, it had 2 camera rooms, 3 dressing rooms, upstairs and downstairs lounges, office space, and a makeup room. 7 In 1940, ads started using Colbourn Studio - formerly Coleman Studio, and some photos were credited "Colbourn-Coleman photo." A 1941 article mentions they employed 15 artists, though it doesn't specify how many were photographers, touch up artists, makeup artists, etc. 8

It's unknown when Colbourn Studio closed, but Frank is still listed as a photographer in the 1950 census, and newspaper ads appear into the early 1950s. The 1953 directory lists Frank working for the Bankers Life Insurance Company of Nebraska in the Latham Square Building, and living in Piedmont.

In 1951, a few photos are credited "Dorothy Colbourn photo." Dorothy Dibble (Colbourn) was Frank Colbourn, Jr.'s third wife. Dorothy Dibble was listed as a photographer at Colbourn Studio in the 1943 directory; they married in 1944.

Oddly enough, the engagement photo of Frank's first wife, Frances Carter (Colbourn) had been taken by Novak-Coleman Studio c.1925. 4

Frances Carter (Colbourn) 1925 41926Frank Colbourn, Sr. 1929 193919401940

Links and References

  1. Will Enlarge Studio Oakland Tribune October 26, 1924
  2. 'Kiddyland' Is New Department Of Coleman's Oakland Tribune July 22, 1928
  3. ad Oakland Tribune July 14, 1929
  4. Colbourn Jr. Finds Cupid In Leash Oakland Post Enquirer June 27, 1925
  5. 6 Flame-Swept Business Houses Lose $220,000 Oakland Tribune February 21, 1931
  6. Wife Says Mate's Employees Call Him 'Daddy' and 'Papa' Oakland Tribune September 18, 1931
  7. Photo Studio Is Modernized Oakland Tribune April 12, 1936
  8. Portraits Specialty At Colbourn Studio Oakland Tribune January 19, 1941