from patent #1,030,201

Wall beds, also known as Murphy beds, are beds that are designed to fold up into a closet or cabinet when not in use. Wall beds from different manufacturers were used in a large number of apartments around Oakland. Brands used locally include Marshall and Stearns (or Marshall-Stearns) and Rip Van Winkle

Murphy beds are named for William Lawrence Murphy, an Irish immigrant in San Francisco who needed to find a creative method of making space in his small apartment. 1 He was not the inventor of disappearing beds, but filed a number of patents around 1900.

It's worth noting that Sarah E. Goode was the first Black woman to be granted a patent. In 1885 she was granted a patent for a cabinet bed, which could be used as a desk when not in use as a bed.

"It appears that the art of constructing disappearing or concealed beds has been followed over a period of more than 70 years, during which time more than 800 patents have been issued for inventions in improved structure in such devices." 2

The earliest references to wall beds in the Tribune appear around 1906. One of the first references to a specific brand came in 1907 in an ad for rooms at the Muri-Ell Apartments which refers to Marshall-Stearns patent beds. 3

Marshall and Stearns

It appears Marshall and Stearns started in the real estate in Los Angeles in the early 1900s. By 1904, they were also running ads for W.C. James patented fixtures as a way for landlords to help maximize "economy of space" and "profitable rents". 4 By 1906 they were running ads referring to Marshall and Stearns Company patented wall beds, and had offices in San Francisco and San Diego. 5 At some point they opened a branch in Oakland; in 1922, their Oakland branch was at 1774 Broadway. They later called their beds Add-A-Room beds.

c.1922 ad from Western Architect and Engineer1922192219221929



The Inco Wall Bed Agency at 1110 Madison St. appears in exactly one new apartment listing in Oakland, the Rudonia Apartments in 1929. 6 Relatively few mentions can be found in any newspapers available on

1929 6

Links and References

  1. Murphy bed on Wikipedia
  2. Rip Van Winkle Wall Bed Co. v. Holmes (1926)
  3. The Muri Ell Oakland Tribune September 1, 1907
  4. ad Los Angeles Times May 15, 1904
  5. ad Los Angeles Times July 22, 1906
  6. ad Oakland Tribune October 13, 1929

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