OAKLAND'S FIRST PUBLIC SCHOOL
(Contributed by Oakland Pioneers - No. 24)
Oakland in Early Days (No. 9). By Chas. G. Reed
Before the construction of Oakland's first public school by Carpentier, there was, at the northeast corner of Second and Washington streets, a two-story wooden building which was used as a "fandango" or Spanish dance house. It stood a little back from the street and had a covered porch on the side facing the street, and also had French windows reaching from the floor almost to the ceiling, opening upon hinges like doors. On the first floor at the rear of the house, a room about 12x14 feet was rented by a few enterprising citizens of the town for a free school. The furniture consisted of a few Redwood benches for the pupils and a small table and chair for the teacher and as there were no desks for the children, they had to care for their books as best they could. Only the simple studies were pursued, and, considering the conditions, the pupils made very good progress.
The first teacher was a Mrs. Phillips, who taught only a short time and was succeeded by Mrs. Whitcher, wife of City Surveyor J. E. Whitcher. Among the first pupils were: the Maloon boys - B. Frank, Seth B., and Henry; Carrie Potter, Lowell J. and Eliza J. Hardy, Winfield Curtis, Alfred W., Henry H., Ellen Burrill and Julia Kelley, several Spanish and one French girl - about fifteen all told. Of these pupils there are now living: Seth and Henry Maloon, Carrie Potter De Mont, Lowell J. Hardy, Winfield Curtis and Henry H. Burrill. From Henry B. and Henry Maloon the above facts concerning this school have been obtained:
The Carpentier schoolhouse was located at the northeast corner of Clay And Fourth streets, facing south. It was about 22x34 feet in size, and was built of redwood, taken from Redwood canyon in the hills back of Oakland. The building was not plastered, but was finished on the inside and ceiled with redwood, and painted a light-blue color. The entrance on Fourth street had a small porch in front, and on each side of the building there were three large windows, giving plenty of light. On the roof was a small cupola containing a bell obtained from an old steamboat in San Francisco, and which could easily be heard all over town, it was then so quiet here. This bell is said to be now in the fire house at Market street and Meade avenue. The sides of the building were covered with clapboards, and a small wood stove with pipe through the rear wall served to heat the room in winter. The playground was a vacant lot in the rear, and a large oak tree in front was made use of by the boys for playing tree tag.
(To be continued.)