Snell Seminary, 12th St. - 1889

Snell Seminary was founded by Mary E. Snell in the 1870s as a school for young women. Husted's directory of 1892 list the seminary's address as 568 - 12th Street in Oakland, with Richard B Snell and Miss Mary E Snell serving as the principals. 3 In 1895 the school moved to Madison and 14th. 7

The seminary was considered one of the best known and most fashionable schools on the Pacific Coast. 2

On July 31, 1896, the San Francisco Call has an advertisement for the Snell Seminary, a "Boarding and Day School for Girls; pupils prepared for college and university; next term opens MONDAY, August 3, 1896. Mary E. Snell, Principal." 5  The address of the seminary is listed as 1213 Madison Street, Oakland.  

The sisters of Joseph R. Knowland, Lucy Knowland (1870 - 1926) and Sadie Knowland (1864 - 1905), attended Snell Seminary sometime in the 1880s and/or 1890s.

Mary E. Snell

In 1880 Mary Snell's sister Margaret Snell joined her in reorganizing the school. Margaret A. Snell left Snell Seminary and went to Boston in 1883 to attend medical school.  She returned in 1886 to establish a medical practice. 1,4 Their sister Sarah served as a house mother. 4

The May 14, 1908 obituary of Mary E. Snell states that in 1878 she established the Snell Seminary on 12th Street in Oakland, until ill health caused her to close the school in 1897. 2

Mary Snell reopened the school with her sister Mrs. Edna Snell Poulson on Channing Way in Berkeley in 1901. 2

Snell Seminary in Berkeley ceased operation after the death of Edna Snell Poulson on January 28, 1912. Also, in 1912 the former Snell Seminary site in Oakland was the current location of the Orpheum Theater on 12th Street, 4 "then known as Central Avenue." 6

On May 4, 1950, the Oakland Tribune announced that the Alumni Association of the old Snell Seminary, founded in Oakland in 1878, will hold its annual May luncheon at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at The Virginian Restaurant, 60 Grand Avenue. 6

1889 Sanborn excerpt, 12th St. location

Links and References

  1. Snell Seminary (Memorabilia Collection) Oregon State University
  2. Miss Snell Called By Death Oakland Tribune Thursday, May 14, 1908
  3. Husted's Oakland, Alameda and Berkeley directory - SFgenealogy
  4. Sarah Snell obituary  Oakland Tribune Monday, January 29, 1912 
  5. ad San Francisco Call July 31, 1896
  6. Miss Mary E. Snell obit: 14 May 1908
  7. An Admirable Location for the Well-Known School Oakland Tribune July 9, 1895