CC SA-BY Our Oakland

The Sunset Telephone Company was an early telephone company. The Sunset Telephone-Telegraph Company was incorporated in 1883, and combined several smaller exchanges. It was managed by Pacific Bell Telephone, but to serve areas outside of San Francisco, including in Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. It was renamed Sunset Telephone and Telegraph in 1889. The company was merged into The Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company in 1907. 1

They published their own directory, and had their own exchange names, including Main, James, John, Clay, Lake, Vale, Grove, Brook, Cedar, Spruce, Brush, Ash, Pine, Green, Red, Blue, Black, Brown, White. 8

from 1904 directory 8from 1904 directory 8

Main Office

The main office in Oakland was built in 1905, on Franklin near 15th St. (1275 Franklin before renumbering, ~1533 Franklin after). By the 1950 Sanborn, that had been demolished and replaced with a larger building and another at 1519-1527 Franklin.

1905 21911 Sanborn excerpt

East Oakland Substation

Their red brick Georgian building at 1649 - 12th Avenue (1349 before renumbering) was built in 1906 for about $14,000, and was designed by architect A. A. Cantin. It was converted into a church about 1952 when it became First Southern Baptist Church.

CC SA-BY Our Oakland1911 Sanborn excerpt

1911 as Pacific Telephone & Telegraph

Piedmont Exchange Substation

A substation for the "Piedmont" exchange was built c.1907 on 45th St. near Telegraph. An article in late 1906 suggests it was designed by Charles W. Dickey, who designed the Oakland Bank of Savings Building about the same time. 3

A newer brick telephone building still stands nearby.

1906 rendering 31911 Sanborn excerpt

Death of Horace Horton

1904 6

Horace A. Horton was a steamfitter who worked in San Francisco. In 1904, Horace, his wife Joanna, and their son Charles lived at 1820 - 13th Avenue (2636 - 13th Avenue after renumbering) at East 27th St. Their phone number was Spruce 1005. 8

Their phone had been continually buzzing or ringing for several days, and Horace grabbed the wire in an attempt to stop it and was instantly electrocuted. Judge Quinn held an inquest at the home, and the jury said:

"We find that Horace A. Horton's death was caused by a shock of electricity accidentally received by the deceased from coming Into contact with an overcharged naked telephone wire of the Sunset Telephone Company, which entered his house dangerously close to the ground, and it is the opinion of the jury that had said company not run such wires so near the ground said accident would not have occurred and said company is responsible for the death." 4

Joanna sued, asking for $37,800. A trial was held, and the jury sided with Joanna, but reduced the damages to $12,500. Her attorney, Stanley Moore, [ question: son of A.A. Moore? ] was able to get Sunset Telephone to agree to settle for $10,000 rather than appeal the case. 4,5,6,7

Links and References

  1. An historical review of the San Francisco Exchange (p. 88)
  2. Sunset Telephone and Telegraph Company's New Plant Oakland Tribune August 30, 1905
  3. Sunset Telephone Company's Pacific Coast Model Station Building Oakland Tribune December 23, 1906
  4. Declare Company Is Responsible Oakland Tribune July 14, 1904
  5. Killed By Live Wire Oakland Tribune July 8, 1904
  6. Many Mourn Horton's Death San Francisco Chronicle July 9, 1904
  7. Attorney Moore's Victory Oakland Tribune October 14, 1905
  8. Alameda and Contra Costa Counties Telephone Directory February 1904
  9. Alameda County News San Francisco Call March 6, 1906