The Williams Block was built in 1885 for George R. Williams. It is at 1148-1156 East 12th Street. Before (at least) 1907, the addresses were 580-582 East 12th Street. 1
Williams was an attorney who lived nearby on 8th Avenue (and later at 1930 - 10th Avenue) and worked in San Francisco.
In 1892, it was sold to a Mrs. Gray, who planned to run it as a hotel or lodging house. 3 [ the library report 2 conflicts with this...maybe the sale didn't go through? ]
Two residents in 1893 were Mr. and Mrs. D. N. Walsh. Mrs. Walsh made the papers when she became temporarily deranged, and tried to climb to the ground in her nightdress. 4
After the 1906 earthquake, a room was rented as a temporary reading room because the chimney of the former East Oakland reading room had been damaged. George R. Williams was the owner at the time. 2
In the 1920s, it included a post office.
Beginning in 1946, it was the home of Piedmont Auctions / Piedmont Auction Studio, 5 which had previously been on Piedmont Avenue.
On July 20, 1982 the Williams Block was designated Oakland Landmark #58, under Zoning Case #LM 82-127:
According the City tax assessment records, this corner building was constructed in 1885-1886 for George R. Williams, a San Francisco attorney who at that time commuted from his large home on 8th Avenue. (Williams later moved to another house, still standing at 1930 10th Avenue). The second story originally contained offices and lodging rooms, while the street level housed a grocery store, dry goods store and dressmaker.
The building is a good example of the business blocks that were erected in the old Clinton/Brooklyn commercial district of East Oakland during the 1880s and 1890s reflecting Brooklyn's growth as a desirable residential suburb during that period. Together with the Central Block at 1102-18 East 12th Street, the building is an important anchor for the most intact block face in what was once a thriving commercial center. The building's prominent corner locations on East 12th Street, a major thoroughfare, and its distinctive and conspicous corner pyramidal towered roof make it the principal visual landmark within the old commercial center. 6