photo CC SA-BY Tim Mulshine
The McMann Apartments is an 6-story steel frame store and apartment building at 491 23rd Street in Uptown Oakland, at the corner of 23rd Street and Telegraph Avenue. The storefront on the Telegraph Avenue site has a separate address of 2278 Telegraph Avenue, and has been the site of various restaurants and other uses, and is currently the site of the Rock Paper Scissors Collective.

The building was designed by prominent Oakland architect Clay N. Burrell, and was completed in 1923.1 The building is named after its developer, R. E McMann, who lived at 754 Arlington Avenue in North Berkeley. The Architect & Engineer estimated that the building would cost $55,060 to construct. The Oakland Tribune noted that the building permit for the project estimated that the construction cost would be $60,000.2 Ads for rentals in the building during 1923 noted that the building had "most modern built-in fixtures, continuous heat, hot water [and] elevator," and was in walking distance of all transportation. What is not clear is why Mr. McMann decided to build a 6-story building at this location, given that much of the surrounding area was developed with smaller buildings or was used as parking lots.

Also of interest is the fact that the name McMann Apartments seems to have only been used during 1923. In the 1930s, the building was identified as the Cords Apartments, after a local real estate developer named Alfred Cords, who had offices at 489 23rd Street and 2270 Telegraph Avenue -- which each may have been in this building.  It is difficult to tell, because addresses have been changed in the area, including when West Grand Avenue was created, and the Sanborn maps for the area are inconsistent. Also note that Mr. Cords advertised in the February 7, 1924 Oakland Tribune seeking a tenant for the newly created retail space in this building.

In 1924, Mr. McMann developed a brick service garage at a block away at 441-449 23rd Street.3 This later building was demolished to permit the construction of the Broadway Grand project.

photo CC SA-BY Tim MulshineCC SA-BY Our OaklandCC SA-BY Our OaklandCC SA-BY Our Oakland

Links and References

  1. The Architect & Engineer, February 1923 (the reference to the developer as Fred McMann appears to be an error)
  2. Classified ads, page 27, Oakland Tribune, August 22, 1923
  3. Broadway-West Grand Mixed-Use Project Draft Environmental Impact Report, City of Oakland

  4. Classified ads, page 26, Oakland Tribune, February 7, 1924