Delger Block, Broadway and 12th Street, Oakland (prior to 1865?) 1

Delger Block refers to one of several buildings built by Frederick Delger.

All buildings but one on the Delger Block were destroyed in a massive fire on March 25, 1865, with damages estimated at $50,000. The fire began in a 7th Street restaurant in the middle of the night.

Most notable is a block of wooden buildings built c.1880-1884 by architects Kenitzer & Raun, located at 901-933 Broadway which still stands.

The 1880-81 structure housed the Bowman Drug Company, a pioneering apothecary firm. Bowman had been in business in California since 1852. In 1886 his store was called “one of the finest in the City.” Millinery and cigar stores filled out the street shops. Law offices filled the upstairs, colorfully recalled by Edward Rayner in 1954: “in the ‘80s, as a small boy, I was employed as “office boy” in the office of George E. DeGolia, one of the leading attorneys of that time. The office was located on the northwest corner of Ninth and Broadway in the Delger building, one of three duplicate buildings, each of a full block, on the west side of Broadway, and known in those days as the “Lawyer’s Block.” The George DeGolia Law Offices boasted the most comprehensive law library in the West, and the street front shop was occupied by Hardy’s, the first major bookstore in northern California.

The basement-level saloon, The Montana, was a popular hangout in the late 1800s, and the “skylights” beneath your feet along Ninth Street were its primary source of natural light. Work crews clearing out the saloon area during renovation discovered four poles believed to have been the supports of a boxing ring located in The Montana. 2

On April 12, 1983 the Delger Block was designated Oakland Landmark #LM 83-24.

Notable tenants included the law firm of Metcalf & Metcalf in the 1880s-1890s, a partnership between George Metcalf, and later congressman and cabinet member, Victor H. Metcalf. 3

from Illustrated Directory of Oakland

Today

The retail level was home to chain retailer Smart and Final for many years, while the entire 2nd floor was leased to Kaiser Permanente. 2

Location

901-933 Broadway, Oakland, California

Question: The first photo labeled as being at 12th St. looks a lot like the one shown in the 1896 Illustrated Directory with the addition of eaves over the sidewalk. The 1896 one appears to show the building which is still standing at 10th and Broadway. Is the photo mis-located, or did Delger build multiple very similar-looking buildings?

Links and References

  1. Image(s) used by permission of the UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library
  2. Old Oakland: Delger Block
  3. A Successful Law Firm Oakland Tribune September 25, 1883