The area was developed by the Realty Syndicate, which advertised the development heavily. They promoted its proximity to the Key System with "9 minutes to the heart of Oakland; 30 minutes to San Francisco," 2 which was all the more impressive in the days before the Bay Bridge. The first reference to the name appears in 1911, with Breuner's advertising their annual bungalow, 1 a house they had staged with furniture which was to be given away. The bungalow was the first house built in the development, and appears in a Cheney Photo Advertising image from the time on otherwise empty streets, with the pillars at the front of the development under construction. The house still stands at 4416 Pleasant Valley Court.
The streets were paved in 1912. 6 By January 1913, 10 homes had been completed; 5 it appears most of the homes were built between 1912 and 1924. A second batch of 12 Spanish-style homes was constructed in 1925 by Charles F. Brown, filling in what was unused Key System right-of-way. 4 Those 12 houses have smaller lots than most of the development.
The U-shaped ("tuning fork") streets were collectively known as "Pleasant Valley Court" and appear that way on various maps. In 1955 there was a minor kerfuffle over the street names. The street signs were worn and in need of replacement, and the sign poster checked what had been designated the official city map, which labeled them "North Court" and "South Court", and duly put up new signs to that effect. City engineer John Morin said the names were official, and it would require a city ordinance to change them. A petition was circulated, and a delegation of 50+ people went to the city council requesting the change. But even before the council was seated, they instructed the city attorney to draw up a resolution officially naming the street Pleasant Valley Court. 7,8 Google Maps labels them "Pleasant Valley Court N" and "Pleasant Valley Court S", although the addresses are unique so the additional labels aren't necessary.
The development is traversed by a little-known pathway which follows the former unused Key System right-of-way from Piedmont Ave. to Moraga.
- DeWitt Miller Grimm and Florence Adaline Zuber (Grimm) — The Grimms moved to 4403 in 1924 (when county records say the house was built) and were still there in 1968 when they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. 9 DeWitt was a mechanical engineer with the Marchant Calculating Machine Company. The house was owned by family until 2020.
- Capt. Edward Durell — Later promoted to major, Durell was a decorated pilot during WWII. Durell lived at 4431 with his parents. 10 He later married Margaret Gentry (Durell).
- Harry Krause — Krause was a pitcher for Oakland Oaks, and lived on Pleasant Valley Court c.1926. 11
Photos CC SA-BY Our Oakland, October 2020.
Links and References
- Breuner's ad Oakland Tribune November 5, 1911
- Realty Syndicate ad Oakland Tribune October 24, 1912
- New Tract Is Almost Ready Oakland Tribune March 3, 1912
- Best Materials, Workmanship in Brown Homes Oakland Tribune March 15, 1925
- Ten Homes Completed in Pleasant Valley Court Oakland Tribune January 26, 1913
- Many Miles of Streets Are Paved Oakland Tribune August 3, 1912
- Pleasant Valley Court Fights Change of Name Oakland Tribune September 6, 1955
- All's Pleasant on Pleasant Valley Court Oakland Tribune September 7, 1955
- The DeWitt Grimms Oakland Tribune August 11, 1968
- Oakland Flier Heads Squadron Oakland Tribune May 14, 1944
- Kremer Fails To Sink With Pirate Ship Oakland Tribune September 23, 1926