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The Fenton Home Orphanage was an orphanage in Oakland from 1925 to at least 1938. It was also known as the Susan Fenton Home for Destitute Children. Most of the time it was at 1047 Bella Vista Avenue.

The home opened in May, 1925, at 886 Cleveland Street; 8 some time prior to 1928 it moved to Bella Vista. The orphanage became a clearing house where children were first sent when taken from "broken homes or juvenile court". 3

Dr. Susan Fenton was an early woman doctor in Oakland. In addition to the home she helped found, a wing at Fabiola Hospital was named for her. Dr. Fenton was the sister of Elbridge Seth Fenton, founder of Fenton's Creamery. 6

The Junior League of Oakland-East Bay began as the Fenton League, a group of women who supported the Fenton Home. They became the Junior League of Oakland in 1935, with Florence Bates (later Florence Bates Brown Holt) as president. 4 The Associated Charities took over funding the Fenton Home beginning in April, 1936. 5 Other supporters of the home included the Soroptomists Club

In 1928, Ruth Jennings was the director. 9 In 1930, Mrs. Mae A. Williams was the matron of the home. 2 In 1935, Gertrude Courtright was the matron. 7 An obituary published in 1985 noted that Elva (Holton) Cravens had worked at the home for a number of years.

According to a former resident, the first floor was dining, the second floor was boys, and the third floor was girls.

The house, which originally had an address of 33 Bella Vista Avenue, was built for Mignonette and Austin Hills (of Hills Brothers Coffee fame) in 1892. It was designed by Walter J. Mathews. 1

Links and References

  1. An Architectural Guidebook to San Francisco and the Bay Area by Susan Dinkelspiel Cerny
  2. 1930 directory
  3. Service Club Aid Asked For Physician At Fenton Home Oakland Tribune April 10, 1928
  4. Twenty Years With The Junior League Oakland Tribune February 6, 1955
  5. Society's Part in the Cultural and Economic Life of the Community Oakland Tribune February 26, 1936
  6. The Knave: April Fosters 1906 Memories Oakland Tribune April 7, 1968
  7. 1935 Polk's Directory
  8. Formal Opening Oakland Tribune May 10, 1925
  9. 1928 Polk's Directory