chapter header 15

In the thirty years between the incorporation of the Town of Berkeley in 1878 and the chartering of the City of Berkeley in 1909, the municipality grew appreciably in population, in area, and in complexity. This final chapter is an attempt to define the events which guided this growth, the personalities who seemed essential to this process, as well as the evolving complexion of this odd political entity.

Why odd? Berkeley expanded not by growing outward from an initial settlement, but though the merging of the various clumps of civilization that were scattered through the area. At the time of its incorporation, the town limits embraced five population clumps: Ocean View, Center Street Station, Dwight Way Station, Berryman Station (at Shattuck and Vine), and, in less measure, Telegraph Avenue. Beginning in 1891 Berkeley’s boundaries were expanded to include what is currently known as South Berkeley: a fairly large portion then called Newbury (soon to be called Ashby, centered around Ashby and Grove Streets), and a year later the smaller Lorin community, land which lay in and around Alcatraz Station.

Following the turn of the century two forces combined to increase the scope and complexity of the town. Spurred by the migration of San Francisco residents fleeing the devastation wrecked by the earthquake of 1906, developments were quickly planned and put into effect plans which resulted in an extension of the boundaries to the south. The Elmwood Park development, for example, came into being as an immediate response to the influx following the earthquake, followed by the addition of Claremont Park. At the north end of town, Albany (previously called Ocean View, but not to be confused with the Ocean View which became West Berkeley) developed quickly to accommodate the influx of new residents, and just as quickly had its own city limits set. By 1908, Northbrae (more or less centered at the Marin Circle) was added, as well as the Thousand Oaks and Solano neighborhoods. Berkeley at that time still lacked its northeastern-most element, and in 1920 Arlington Heights, the hilly land northeast of the Domingo Peralta Rancho which still remained unincorporated, was included within the city limits. It would not be until 1959 that today’s northern city limits would be set, with the northern boundaries of Berkeley and Albany directly abutting the line separating Alameda County from Contra Costa County.

The need to create additional neighborhoods that would accommodate the many immigrants making their way to Berkeley from the San Francisco disaster proved a considerable impetus to those in the real estate trade. However this migration provided no more than an occasion for much of the decade’s ongoing development, given that the machinery was already in place, well before the earthquake and fire, that would drive the geographic expansion and land utilization.

This final chapter represents an attempt to define the themes and roles that contributed to Berkeley’s expansion and maturity. Because of the increasing complexity of the forces at work, as well as the loss of “small town” candor in information sharing, some generalities and supposition must often substitute for hard data and clear indications of particular responsibility. The time frame of this final section begins shortly after the act of incorporation in 1878 and continues thru the first decade of the new century, from incorporation to its new charter and its status as a city.

The final portion of our story might be said to really begin in 1895 with the creation of the Realty Syndicate. The actors having the most significant influence during this period were those who constituted both the Reality Syndicate and the Mason McDuffie Co, as well as their various subsidiaries. Collectively, and in combinations, the commercial efforts of these various entrepreneurs moved the town towards its present configuration. They represented, in large measure, the final legacy of Horace Carpentier and the Central Pacific Railroad Company, along with Henry Durant and the Berkeley Land & Town Improvement Association, for they drew heavily upon the territorial resources which had been staked out by these earlier financial opportunists. The new generation of real estate interests collectively carried vast political weight, going so far as to attempt the relocation of the State capital to their properties in Berkeley. These men came along after the Carpentiers, Durants, Shattucks, Blakes, and the Barkers had retired from active participation. This last chapter is foremost their story. The changes they made were both political, and geographic. Neighborhoods grew out of pastures, hillsides, and farms, the emergent cities of Albany and Emeryville configured themselves to the maturing corpus of their more established neighbors, and the commercial interests persisted in setting the dominant character of the Berkeley communities.

In Retrospect


The progressive expansion of the town’s site began in earnest thirteen years following incorporation, in 1891. The terms of incorporation, the constraining product of a democratic sort of compromise, had left the Town of Berkeley fiscally vulnerable and ever subject to the predations of Oakland’s ambitious developers. In spite of its apparent disadvantages, it grew in population, with over 4000 citizens counted by 1883. Public utilities were in put in place; skating rinks were a center of public entertainment; a high school was built almost immediately following incorporation, furnished, and occupied by 1880; and efforts were in effect to improve the often dismal appearance of this gradually emerging community. The needed refinements came at a slow and halting pace, the well-to-do and the centers of commerce being the first to realize the promised municipal benefits. The difficulty seemed to stem from the articles of incorporation which denied the municipality the relative advantage associated with the acquisition of debt. It was operated on a cash only basis, and cash was scarce. Dwight Way Station was developed as a population and commercial center in 1885, including the real estate office of Joseph Mason, which opened in 1887 at Dwight and Shattuck. By 1890 the Stewart and Trowbridge building stood on the Northeast corner of Dwight Way and Shattuck Avenue, which required the office of Joseph Mason to relocate a block north. The Stewart & Trowbridge building housed the Berkeley Bazaar, a restaurant and a bakery, a hardware store, and a notions/variety shop.

In 1892 Stewart & Trowbridge opened a second commercial building during a period of accelerated development adjacent to Berryman Station in north Berkeley at the Southwest corner of Shattuck and Vine Streets; it was known as the Hahn Block. (Shortly thereafter Stewart and Trowbridge built a third commercial building which was located at the corner of Ashby and Shattuck.) Within two years the north Berkeley neighborhood included the Grand Hotel on the Northeast corner, and in another year the Southeast corner was occupied by the Squires block (housing Squires drug store). The development of this suburban center had been anticipated at least as early as the early 1870s with the preparation of the railroad terminus to be extended to Vine Street.

North Berkeley’s development in fact began as early as 1873, when T.M. Antisell, Graves & Taylor, and Berryman and Chappellet (Berkeley Villa Tract) purchased portions of Tract 85, land now bordered by Grove Street on the West, Eunice Street on the North, Cedar Street on the South, and the hill lands owned by the Berkeley Water Company on the East. Some of these properties were purchased from N.B. Byrne, and some from the B.L.T.I.A. which was organized in 1873 by existing landowners , namely Henry Durant, J. H. Jacobs, S. A. Penwell, A. Rammelsburg, A. C. R. Shaw, William Tierney, and Thomas J. Murphy (aka Antisell) who had joined together by pooling their individual holdings in order to sell real estate as a corporation. Their joint venture can be understood as the first such in the Berkeley area, and the immediate predecessor of what was to follow.

Meanwhile, the State University Homestead Association, which was established in 1872, bought up several large parcels west of Grove Street and east of San Pablo Avenue. Private lots in all of these sections were being sold and homes were being built from the early 1870s on. The growth of these neighborhoods was slow.

Sewers were installed, as were sidewalks beginning with the roadway between Telegraph and Shattuck, now Bancroft Avenue, a boulevard on which was situated the most affluent of the Berkeley homes. This neighborhood, extending north of Bancroft and lying between Telegraph and Oxford, developed rapidly but has long since been displaced by the expansion of the University boundaries. By 1890, with the upper reaches of Shattuck avenue having been graded to conform to the “railroad canal” which ran down its center the roadway was developed on the eastern side of the railroad station situated between Center Street and University Avenue. (The dirt excavated during the “canal” project was used to fill the pond that dominated the area that was to become Stanford Place) This development considerably enhanced the commercial center on the eastern side of Shattuck avenue. Meanwhile the relatively isolated city hall remained located midway between the eastern and western settlements, near the corner of Sacramento and University Avenue, where residential or commercial development was yet to take place.

By the time the final decade of the 19th century had begun, Berkeley’s population had expanded nearly 20% to 4,963 residents, and ten years later, it exceeded 13,000. In the early part of the 1890s, Audubon and Choat Streets were renamed College and Telegraph Avenues, the Grove Street Electric Railroad was providing public transportation on Grove Street ( until then called Sherman St), along with the Oakland Consolidated Street Railway which ran along Shattuck Avenue, paralleling the steam trains. During this same decade, public transit was in place running between East and West Berkeley, down Addison Street as far as Sacramento, making a short jog and continuing on University Ave, courtesy of the Oakland, Claremont, & Ferries RR. Telegraph Avenue, however, still remained relatively undeveloped; the Congregational Church, built at the corner of Dwight Way and Choat, was removed from that site in 1884 to a location closer to the main center of development, and situated on Allston Way between Shattuck and Oxford. Dana Street was still serving as the main access route to the University campus. In 1892, the Oakland Consolidated Railroad laid tracks on Allston Street to connect the Dana Street railroad with the streetcar service at Shattuck and Center Street.

By 1896 Berkeley had 27miles of macadamized streets and sixty miles of sewer. Paved were Dwight Way from Prospect Street to the Bay (providing ready access to the homeowners settled in the College Homestead Tract, with Dwight Way describing its southern boundary), Shattuck Avenue from Rose to the southern town limits, Oxford Street from Allston to Rose (serving another of the relatively few upscale neighborhoods) , and San Pablo Avenue from the southern to the northern boundaries. During this same year Gus Vollmer, who would later serve as Berkeley’s first police chief, and who had four years earlier opened a coal and feed store near the corner of Vine and Shattuck, organized the North Berkeley Volunteer Fire Department.

When the Berkeley Town Hall burned in 1904, a paid fire department was started, with James Kenny appointed as chief. A new and temporary town hall was established on Shattuck Avenue (in the Shattuck Block at the corner of Allston St) which burned down the following year, awaiting the building (in 1908) of a permanent location on Grove Street (now Martin Luther King, Jr. Way). By 1910, with the influx following in the wake of the 1906 earthquake and fire, Berkeley’s population had ballooned to nearly 45,000 people.

In 1900, with a population in excess of 13,000, East Berkeley had few non-white residents: there were three Black residents in north Berkeley, while the population of West Berkeley (Ocean View) included more than 1500 non whites, with the majority of these being Asian. Between 1896 and 1900 the city managed to increase its paved roadways from 27 to 46 miles, and a new ordinance was put into effect requiring householders to post numbers on their dwellings.

The Reality Syndicate
Expansion in earnest began shortly after 1900. Two large and well financed corporations provided, either directly or through their subsidiaries, the main impetus to this development. The Reality Syndicate was incorporated in 1895; Mason McDuffie was incorporated ten years later. The effect these two entities had on the final configuration of Berkeley was, to say the least, appreciable. Together, they effectively divided up all the undeveloped land from Codornices Creek to the developed portions of Oakland, including the areas known as the “mountain lands” to the east as well as the waterfront and tidelands of the bay on the west. While undeveloped, all the lands involved had long since been claimed by the earlier title holders, squatters, and speculators, most of whom found cause to become party to this developmental frenzy. The Reality Syndicate, organized in 1895, by Frank Colton Havens and Francis Marion (Borax) Smith. Their principal partners included, W.H. Martin, H.C. Miner (of Miner Theaters, in New York), William G. Henshaw of the Union Savings Bank, William Dingee, president of the Oakland Water Company, J. C. Winans, a manufacturer, D. D. Harris, a merchant, C.A. Murdock, C.E.Tinkham, superintendent of the Sierra Lumber Company, E. A. Heron, who was already involved in real estate, L.G. Harrier, City Attorney for the city of Vallejo, Delos Palmer, a capitalist living in New York, Charles Camden, a capitalist living in Oakland, W. Frank Pierce, the president of the Blue Lakes Water Company, F.M. Nace, an auditor, Hiram Tubbs, and John L. Howard of the Oregon Improvement. Scarcely an exclusively local endeavor. The Reality Syndicate owned, among other properties, at one time or another, in whole or in part, the BLTIA tract, The Rooney Tract, the Peralta Park Tract, The Shaw Tract, The Teachers State University Tract, the Jones Tract, the Cragmont Tract, the Northbrae Tract, the Hardy Tract, the Landregan Tract, the Peralta Homestead Tract, the Spaulding Tract, the 1000 Oaks Tract, the Kennsington Park Tract and the Bryant Tract. It played a large role in the creation of the principle public transportation system of the northern portions of Alameda County, as well as the building of the Claremont Hotel. The Realty Syndicate prospered, almost exclusively under the guidance of Fank Colton Havens.

Frank Colton Havens
Frank Havens was born in Sag Harbor, New York, on November 21, 1848, to Wickham Sayre and Sarah Darling Havens. His paternal ancestors frank havenswere among the early settlers of Long Island, and for several generations were involved in the whaling industry. The family was not of modest means. In April of 1864, at the age of 16, Frank left New York for China, and worked for a year and a half as the assistant purser on the steamer Kinshaw, running on the Canton river. He left China at the end of 1865 and sailed for San Francisco where, as the story goes, he found work as an office boy and clerk in the Savings and Loan Society’s Bank on Clay Street. He remained in their employ for the next ten years, without advancement, at which time he formed a partnership with Van Dyke Hubbard in the stock brokerage business. He was a member of the S.F. Stock Exchange from 1880 to 1884, during which time he established the Home Benefit Life Association. In 1889 he organized the American Investment Union of New York, and three years later the Mutual Investment Union, which was absorbed by the Realty Syndicate which he formed, with Francis Smith, in 1895.

Under his guidance, the Realty Syndicate acquired some 13,000 acres of valuable land, from East Oakland to North Berkeley, as well as substantial properties in central Oakland. On its 6% certificates, which were made convertible into real estate, more than $12,000,000 were raised, all of which went into the development of Oakland and vicinity. This is before the Realty Syndicate and the Key Route System were consolidated, again, under his management.

Mr. Havens was twice married, first to Sadie Bell of Virginia City, Nevada who died at age 33 leaving four children: Harold, Wickham, Seyd and Paul. Harold and Wickham were both active in local real estate ventures. His second wife was Lila Mandana Rand, with whom he built their home, Wildwood, in the Vernon heights section of the Piedmont foothills.

His son Harold, through his association both with the Realty Syndicate and the Mason McDuffie organization, acquired 287 acres in Berkeley which he subdivided and developed into the Cragmont neighborhood, which was annexed by the City of Berkeley in 1920.

In 1900 Mr Havens began the development of the inter-urban transit system which ultimately became known as the Key System. Initially he purchased the properties of three struggling street car companies which he merged under the name of the Oakland Traction Company. During this period the Southern Pacific had a monopoly of the ferry boat service, however Havens established the Key Route system of ferries, which he operated at a loss for five years and ultimately prevailed over his prime competitor. (It is speculated that he was assisted in this venture by Chester H. Rowell, a man whose story appears further along in this narrative.)

In 1903 The Realty Syndicate created Idora Park, creating it out of the existing Ayala Park. Idora Park was located in Oakland,between 56th and 58th Streets, and between Telegraph and Shattuck Avenues; it was in operation between the years 1903 and 1929. Idora Park was a huge recreational operation that was owned and operated by The Realty Syndicate, and offered band concerts, opera, carnival rides, a skating rink that looked like a giant Chinese temple, a restaurant, and a zoo. During the earthquake and fire of 1906 Idora Park became a refuge for thousands of the homeless. It has since been replaced by an otherwise inconspicuous residential neighborhood.

In 1905, the Realty Syndicate, in a cooperative venture with the Mason McDuffie organization, built the Claremont Hotel at the eastern terminus of the Key Route extension. Shortly after that Mr Havens resigned from the active management of the Syndicate to devote his time to the Peoples Water Company. The Peoples Water Company was incorporated on August 30, 1906, with F.C. Havens as its manager, and this took place on the same day as the incorporation of the Contra Costa Water Company. On the following January, the Contra Costa Water Company was conveyed to the Peoples Water Co. In 1910 Havens became its president and in 1917, this joint venture became the East Bay Water Company, which has since morphed into the East Bay Municipal Utility District.

In his split with Francis Smith, Havens divested himself of all responsibility for the traction company, for which he realized $2,400,000 for his share; his remaining holdings in the Realty Syndicate were, at the time, estimated at $2,000,000, or more. During his tenure with the water company, he was seriously engaged in the forestation of the bare hills behind Oakland and Berkeley. His firm, the Mahogany, Eucalyptus Land Company, planted hundreds of thousands of trees to enhance the beauty of the east side of the bay, not to mention the value of the land in which he still had an interest.

Francis Marion “ Borax” Smith


While Frank Colton was born to wealth, his partner, Francis frank 1875“Borax” Smith was born humbly in Richmond, Wisconsin in 1846, the 5th of Henry and Charlotte Paul Smith’s six children. His father was a farmer in Walworth County. Mr Smith came west, sought his fortune first in Death Valley, California in 1867 and by 1872 had attained vast wealth from mining, most notably in the borax deposits at Teals Marsh, Nevada. He is known to have then invested much of his fortune in Oakland and Alameda County, including the building of a borax refinery in West Alameda in 1889. He married his first wife, Mary Rebecca Thompson Wright, a divorcee from Brooklyn, New York in 1875, and settled her in their new home in Oakland on 17th Street, between 9th and 10th Avenues, in 1881. He immediately set out to acquire additional property for his home, and soon owned 53 acres in East Oakland just east of 24th Street, and called it Arbor Villa.


In 1892, after 17 years of marriage, he and Mollie (as she was best known) went eastmollie-1875  to Shelter Island, New York, to find a place to build a summer home. It may be more than coincidental thatthey were home shopping in the same neighborhood where his friend, and soon-to-be partner in the Realty Syndicate, had his summer home. Before they left that summer they had purchased a 42 acre homestead for $8,000 from Hannah Cartwright, a ships captain’s widow. Two years later additional properties adjacent to the original purchase were secured, and by 1906 Frank, as he was called by his friends, had extended the original 42 acre parcel to a total of 235 acres which he called “Presdeleau”. Mollie died of a “stroke”, on New Year’s eve 1906, in Oakland.

Two years later Smith married Evelyn Kate Ellis, who had served as his wife’s financial assistant for the past 10 years and who was her choice of a second wife should anything befall her. evelyn 1913Evelyn had lived with the Smiths at Arbor Villa for those ten years. In the next six years he and the second Mrs Smith had four children, Francis Jr was born in February of 1913, when Francis Sr was 67 years old.

family frankThe family spent their summers in Shelter Island, and their winters in the Oakland home. With the dissolution of his partnership with Frank Havens, Frank Smith did not fare as well as he had while they were still involved. He incurred debts, but seemed able to coast comfortably enough on the savings and investments he had accumulated during the partnership.

However, in 1913 Francis Borax Smith went bankrupt. He turned then to an old friend, Ben Edwards, with whom he had been involved in the Tonopah Extension Mining and Milling Company. He still owned a a sizablefrank 1907 number of shares in the company, which did not have great value. However, in 1913 the company, which had turned a modest profit in the intervening years, began to make real money. But Frank invested his share of profit in some questionable ventures, he accrued an inordinate number of creditors, foreclosures were instituted, and much of his personal assets were sold to satisfy his debts At the age of 75 he returned to the borax business but by 1928 he was clearly in ill health, his wife attempted to manage their remaining affairs, the property in Shelter Island had been sold, VillaArbor was dismantled, parcels being sold as separate properties, and their house was destroyed by wrecking ball in 1932. However, by that time Frank was dead. He died on August 27th, 1931, at the age of 85, at Fabiola Hospital (located on the current site of Oakland’s Kaiser Hospital).

While “Borax” Smith played a not inconsequential role in the creation of the Reality Syndicate, as well as remaining active in its various public projects, it was clearly Frank Colton Havens who must be credited with the business acumen that made it all work so well. Not since Horace Carpentier had anyone left such a discernable mark upon the land configuration of the east bay. But others would add their own impress, some in fairly large measure, and one of these was Louis Titus.

Louis Titus


Mr Titus was born in March of 1872. He attended the University of California, leaving his studies in 1892 when his uncle, a prosperous attorney in San Francisco, died and left his assets and the practice to his nephew. Louis assumed these duties and apparently did well enough to turn his attention to real estate. louis titusWhile at the University, he was associated with the Phi Delta Theta fraternity, which among its members included Duncan McDuffie, William Waste, Perry Tompkins, Elmer and Chester Rowall, and Wiggington Ellis Creed, all of whom went on to notable careers and each of whom played influential roles in the various local real estate ventures which were to follow. With the Realty Syndicate already active in land manipulations, Titus became instrumental in the creation of a second large real estate venture, but not in direct competition with the Syndicate. Titus founded the Mason McDuffie real estate company in 1905, and guided it in its major achievements, many of which were accomplished in concert with the Realty Syndicate, many on its own light. Together with the Realty Syndicate, Mason McDuffie oversaw the building of the Claremont Hotel as well as the emerging communities that surrounded it. In fact, most all of the development that was to follow involved the collaborative efforts of both organizations. Titus was named as being the key figure of the Berkeley Development Company (1907), the North Berkeley Land Company, as well as the Spring Construction Company, together with J.H. Spring and Wiggington Creed, the latter of whom became his law partner in 1912. Later, Titus went on to serve the U.S. Government during the First World War (together with Duncan McDuffie who was put in charge of the making and distribution of bread for the U.S. troops). During the Depression Titus fared less well, during which time he was living in Texas with his second wife at the time; they subsequently moved back to Berkeley where they both soon died. Louis Titus is rarely mentioned in any account of Berkeley, in spite of the vast and significant influence he had on these various corporate enterprises, most notable of which is the Mason McDuffie company, during the early years of the twentieth century.

Between 1903 and 1906 Horace Carpentier and the Pacific Improvement Company (Southern Pacific Railroad) conveyed significant parts of the Jones Ranch to these real estate entrepreneurs. Where Carpentier et. al., served as the wholesalers of the extraneous Berkeley lands, the Reality Syndicate, Mason McDuffie, et al. took over as the retail agents of these same properties.

John P. Jones
John P. Jones, the titular holder of the Jones Tract, was born in Heresfordshire, in The Hay on the River Wye on January 27, 1829. His parents Thomas and Mary (Pugh) Jones, migrated soon after his birth to America, in 1830. Altogether, the Jones’ had a total of eight children, the youngest being born in the U.S. John was reared in Cleveland, Ohio and came to California on the lake schooner “Eureka” in September, 1849, at the age of 20 years. As did many in his day, John headed directly to the gold fields of Trinity County where he remained for the next twenty years. While residing there, he was elected sheriff of Trinity County. From 1863 to 1867 he served as a State Senator for Shasta and Trinity counties, and was reputed to have been affiliated during this period with William Chapman Ralston. During this period he became involved with the Crown Point Mine in Gold Hill, Nevada which led to his becoming a Comstock millionaire when the mine turned a substantial profit. He moved from California to Nevada at the end of his term, and served in the Nevada Senate for five terms, from 1872 to 1903, at which point, at the age of 74, he retired from politics. Regardless of the politics, throughout his career he was involved in the mining industry in Alaska, Mexico, Central America, Nevada and California.

By 1873 Jones established himself as a business partner of Horace Carpentier, with whom he acquired large sections of the Domingo Peralta legacy, properties, together referred to as the “Jones Ranch” which were reported to have cost him a quarter of a million dollars. In 1877 the Jones Tract Map was filed, which included most of the properties known to have been owned by Carpe

ntier, including the area later to be incorporated as the City of Albany. In 1890 title to the Jones Ranch was transferred to the Pacific Improvement Company, a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific Railroad. It was acquired, purportedly, for right-of-way and land development. Included in this extensive parcel were what had long been referred to as the “Mountain Lands” (i.e., the Berkeley Hills), large portions of the Berkeley waterfront and the properties which were, at the time, the Berkeley tidelands.

Jones was married twice, his first marriage produced a son, his second, in 1875 yielded eight daughters. Prior to his second marriage, he relocated his home to Los Angeles and there he was active in the development of Santa Monica. Jones was also responsible for the development of the Los Angeles and Independent Railroad which ran between Santa Monica and Los Angeles, and which began operation in 1875. John Paul Jones died on October 27, 1912 at the age of 83.

Mason McDuffie Company

The Mason McDiffie real estate company was incorporated in 1905. It’s basis was the established real estate practice of Joseph Mason, an older man who had maintained a modest but durable business, with a good reputation. The creation of the merger was in all respects the brain child of Louis Titus. The new corporation issued 250 shares, fifty of which were held by Titus, another fifty by Duncan McDuffie, 48 by Joseph Mason, one each to a James Mason of San Francisco and Clarence Dakin of Berkeley. Mr Dakin was the architect who designed the Mason McDuffie building, constructed in 1906, which continues to stand at the corner of Addison Street and Stanford Place. The shares in the new company were valued at $100 each, and there were 100 shares left to be allocated later. Originally, Joseph Mason was named president of the new corporation, but resigned in September of 1907, citing his advancing age, and with a polite acknowledgment to Titus. Titus was then the company’s president, and Duncan McDuffie was his secretary. The superannuated Mason, while credited with some of its projects during his 18 month tenure, was largely a figurehead lending historical credibility to this upstart behemoth.

Joseph Mason
Joseph Mason arrived in San Francisco in 1869 from his native London, England; he was, on arrival, 24 years old and seeking work in order to support his intended marriage. His first job was that of a porter on the San Francisco docks, and in three years he had earned enough money to send for his future bride.

In 1875 Mr Mason relocated to the Berkeley community, in 1886 he was involved in the incorporation of the Homestead Loan Association of Berkeley, and in 1887 opened his first real estate office at Dwight Way Station. He continued on as a director of the loan association and, doing business as Mason and McLenathen, began representing property owners in their endeavor to divide and sell. A legal business association of Mason and McLenathen did not exist until 1900, at which time their office was relocated from Dwight Way Station to the Shattuck and Center St area. During his 18 months with the new organization, Mason was cited as being involved in the building two family dwellings on Grove Street, between Russell and Ashby, the development of Fairview Park on a 40 acre barley field on Alcatraz above Telegraph; as well as several north Berkeley neighborhoods, one involving the Kellogg Ranch, which lies between Hearst, Cedar, Oxford and Arch, another the Hopkins Tract which lay on the east side of Oxford Street, immediately east of the Berkeley Villa Tract. These several projects, including the Antisell Properties and those of Graves and Taylor made up most of what was then the North Berkeley residential communities. Mr Mason’s real estate career did not seem to survive his association with Titus; he died in 1927 at the age of 82.

Duncan McDuffie
Duncan McDuffie was born in 1877 in Jefferson, Iowa, the son of Marshall Burnap (a banker) and Sohie Busnell (Warner) MacDuffie. The family moved to California and Duncan attended public schools in Santa Barbara, after which he attended the University of California in Berkeley and graduated with his bachelors degree in 1899. Following graduation he took a job with Taft & Pennoyer, the largest department store in Oakland, and a year later was promoted to the position of Office & Credit Manager. He remained in this position until he left it for a career in real estate as a partner with Louis Titus, Joseph Mason, and others, in 1905. The others included, not coincidentally, many of his former fraternity brothers of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. These included Clement Young, Wiggington Creed, Elmer Rowell, and Perry Tompkins. Louis Titus’ university career at Berkeley overlapped with some of these men. Duncan McDuffie married in 1911 and died in 1951. The McDuffies had no children.

The Mason McDuffie corporation rested, in large measure, upon a standing association between a group of fraternity brothers, and, as Frank Colton Havens was to the Realty Syndicate, Louis Titus was to Mason McDuffie association. The Mason McDuffie organization spawned many subsidiaries, including the West Berkeley Land Company, The Westgate Park Company, the Berkeley Construction Company, the Berkeley Waterfront Company (with Frank C Havens, Wickham Havens, and John Hopkins Spring), the Northlands Development Company (with Francis Ferrier as President, and Wickham Havens, George Schmidt, and Louis Titus, among others, as shareholders), as well as the Claremont Hotel Company, and the Northbrae Properties (with the Realty Syndicate) which were the foundation for a proposed relocation of the State Capital. While the Claremont Hotel was never located within the Berkeley City limits, in order the avoid the Dry Laws which existed in Berkeley but not in Oakland, the neighborhoods surrounding the hotel were developed by the Claremont Park Company (with Louis Titus its president, together with Duncan McDuffie, John Hopkins Spring, Wickham Havens, the Berkeley Development Company, Clement Calhoun Young, Perry Tompkins, and Arthur Creed), and this constituted the 1906 addition to the ongoing extension of the Township’s boundary.

And now a few words concerning some of the other actors in this turn of the century melodrama.

Clement Calhoun Young
Clement C. Young was born in 1869 and following his public school education became an English teacher at Lowell High School in San Francisco. In 1905, during a break in the school schedule, he joined the Mason McDuffie organization as a salesman and, with his eye on a political career, three years later was elected to the State Assembly, where he served until 1918, the last six as Speaker. He then was elected Lieutenant Governor, a position he held between 1919 and 1927. At that point there was nowhere else to go, and so he was elected Governor of the State of California, where he served one term . He ran for a second term but was defeated for reelection in 1930 by James Rolph. He had the significant backing of the Bank of America and had earned a reputation as “one of Hiram Johnson’s hired gangsters”. Credentials enough for the real estate business.

Perry Tompkins
Perry Tompkins was born to the second wife of Thomas Tompkins who was born in Walcott, Lancashire, England in 1817. The elder Mr Tompkins immigrated to the United States in 1846 and began farming near the Morman settlement of New Helvetia. When the Mormans laid out the town of San Bernadino, Thomas bought 130 acres. It was on this farm that his first wife died and he married Artemisa Perry, and named his first son Perry; there were six children to follow.

When the elder Tompkins died, Perry was obliged to abandon his education and returned home to manage the farm. Soon his fortunes again changed and he enrolled as a student at Cal where he met Clement Young who invited him to join his fraternity. Perry then moved into the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house which was situated at the corner of Bancroft and College Avenue. He graduated from Cal in 1892 and that same year married Xora Avery; they settled in San Bernardino where he became the principal of the Mt Vernon School. In 1904 he moved his family to Santa Rosa to assume the teaching position just vacated by his friend, Clement Young, but soon relocated again to the Berkeley area where he became involved not only with the real estate ventures of Mason McDuffie, but with the banking business as well. He soon organized his own bank which was soon absorbed by the Bank of America, at which point he was employed as the first vice president of the Bank of America; coincidentally, the same bank which stood behind Clement Young in his bid for the governor’s mansion. Perry Tompkins has been given credit for organizing the local Boy Scouts and for mobilizing the community to build the New Y.M.C.A. building in 1911.

Wiggington Ellis Creed
Wiggington Creed was a 1898 graduate of Cal and member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity at the same time as Duncan McDuffie. He was born in Fresno, California in 1877. Mr Creed went on to be a law partner of Louis Titus, a Regent of the University of California, and the attorney retained (most probably by Frank Havens) to guide the reorganization of the Peoples’ Water Company which led to the founding of the East Bay Water Company. In 1920, at the age of 43, he assumed the presidency of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (which had been created in 1905 out of San Francisco Gas and Electric Co. and California Gas and Electric Co). If this was not enough, he is also credited with being the president of Columbia Steel of Pittsburg, California, the president of C.A. Hooper & Co, wholesale lumber, president of the Contra Costa Bank in Pittsburg, and a director of the Wells Fargo Bank and Union Trust Company of San Francisco, the Associated Oil Company, and the East Bay Water Company. Certainly a man with fine credentials, considerable political weight, and a long standing close associate of the real estate principals of Berkeley. Another well appointed Phi Delta Theta was William Waste. He graduated from Cal in 1891, and from Hastings College of Law in 1894. Mr Waste acted as the attorney for the First National Bank of Berkeley, the Homestead Loan Association of Berkeley, and the Berkeley Bank of Savings and Trust Company. In 1902 he was elected to the State Assembly and reelected in 1904. In 1905 he was appointed to the bench of the Superior Court by Governor Pardee. When not otherwise occupied, he was an organizer and first president of the Holmes Library Association of Berkeley, married to Mary Ewing with whom he had two children, served as the president of the Berkeley Y.M.C.A., and was active in the Durant Lodge of the Masons.

The Rowells
The Rowell family is complicated. Of principal interest is Chester Rowell, along with his two nephews, Chester and Elmer, children of his older brother (Jonathan Harfey Rowell). Chester Rowell was born in Woodsville, New Hamphsire in 1844. The family moved five years later to Illinois and at age 17, along with his brother, he entered the Union Army at the outbreak of the Civil War. Chester attended Lombard College in Galesburg, Illinois and in 1866, at the age of 22, came to California to live with and work for his cousin, Dr. Isaac Rowell. In 1870, he enrolled in Cooper Medical College (now College of the Pacific).

In 1874 Chester moved to Fresno where he practiced medicine and established “The Republican”, a progressive newspaper which he printed in the back portions of his office. Five years later, he was elected to the California State Senate, was appointed to the State Board of Health in 1880 and in 1886 he was defeated by railroad interests (which he was outspokenly against) for the office of railroad commissioner. In 1898 he was again elected to the State Senate (as he was again in 1902). In 1909, Chester retired from state politics, and was elected to the office of Mayor of Fresno; he died while still serving in that capacity in 1912. In the meanwhile, his older brother had been serving as a member of the U.S. Congress from Illinois, beginning in 1891, and was still holding that office as late as 1909.

One is tempted to consider a Fresno based relationship, with political overtones, between Chester Rowell and the much younger Wiggington Creed, who was a fraternity brother and contemporary of Chester’s nephew, Elmer Ingals Rowell.

Chester H. Rowell, nephew of the elder Chester Rowell, and Elmer’s brother, was born in Bloomington, Illinois in 1869 and died in 1948. Chester H. attended the University of Michigan between 1885 and 1889. By 1898 he had become the editor of his uncle’s well regarded progressive newspaper, the Fresno Republican. He relocated to California sometime around 1900 and organized the Lincoln-Roosevelt League through which California Progressives nominated Hiram Johnson for governor who went on to gain control of the Republican party and the State government in 1910. Chester H. was never elected to public office, but he was a close confidant of the governor, and of Herbert Hoover, and fought mightily for progressive causes; in particular, he was noted for challenging the Southern Pacific’s role in their control of California politics. He was also for many years an active member of the U.C. Regents. It was Chester’s brother, Elmer, the fraternity brother of Duncan McDuffie, who was active in Berkeley’s real estate ventures. He was reported to have investments in the Berkeley Square Lots, the Shaw Tract, the Berkeley Construction Company (with Perry Tomplins and C.C. Young its primary officers in 1906), the Berkeley Development Company, Mason McDuffie, the West Berkeley Land Company (with Duncan McDuffie it’s president in 1906), and the Westgate Park Company. While not personally active in any of these financial interests, as a member of the Rowell political dynasty he undoubtedly made himself useful with his considerable political influence.

The point of this somewhat elongate and perhaps tedious biographic treatise is that the political and economic base upon which the real estate activities in turn-of-the-century Berkeley were conducted was, indeed, quite substantial. Not only the advantage rampant among the principals of the two realty giants, but additionally that which was vested in their associations within the State power structure, collectively served them well. With this measure of support, they very nearly succeeded in their extended plans for the Northbrae Properties, the ultimate jewel in their collective crown.

Northbrae

Northbrae is that portion of Berkeley which is bounded by Spruce Street on the east, the City of Albany (approximately) on the west, Eunice Street (approximately) on the south, and the 1920 addition, the 1000 Oaks Tract, to the north. Northbrae was brought into the embrace of the Township limits in 1908, at the same time that the city of Albany was incorporated as a separate entity. On February 18, 1907, Louis Titus stood before a meeting of the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce and proposed that the State Capitol be moved from Sacramento to Berkeley. The Chamber of Commerce itself was rather new, organized by the Berkeley Board of Trade less than two months prior. Titus offered a 40 acre site north of the town, centered at what is now the eastern end of Hopkins Street, at Henry Street, and conspicuously marked by the ornate fountain which serves as the centerpiece of the “Marin Circle”, as the location of the new capitol. The property was valued at $240,000. At that meeting Titus was elected to chair the “Executive Committee to Move the Capitol to Berkeley”. Less than a month before the proposal was placed before the Chamber of Commerce, in January of 1908, The Realty Syndicate had transferred to the North Berkeley Development Company, and the Berkeley Land Company, 600 acres valued at $1,450,000. These companies were owned by Louis Titus, Wiggington Creed, and John Hopkins Spring. The forty acres offered by Titus lay at the heart of this tract.

On March 1, 1908, a bill was passed by the State Legislature and put to the people of the State for their approval. The idea was perhaps arrogant, if not outrageous, but it was scarcely new. As early as February of 1878, the editor of the Advocate wrote a piece which strongly made the point that the Township should attempt to arrange for the relocation of the State Capitol to Berkeley.

The State general election came in November of 1908. Obviously the endeavor failed, but it did not fail by much. It failed when it came to a popular vote because the voters in Southern California were suitably outraged and voted overwhelmingly against it. The measure was popular with the voters of the Bay Area, however they simply did not have the numbers to offset the opposition from the south. For the efforts of this promotion we are left with an exceptionally widened Hopkins street, running east of the Alameda, which was laid out as the grand promenade to the capitol building, as well as the Marin circle fountain, which was to be featured at its main entrance. In anticipation of the relocation, many of the streets in the Northbrae development were given the names of the States’ counties.

Northern-Township-Boundary

When incorporated, the Northern boundary of the Berkeley Township was defined by Cordonices Creek. With the Northbrae addition, the City now included land north of the creek. Streets within the Northbrae project were named after the counties in the State. The Alameda, plotted as the main corridor to the proposed capitol building, was an extension of what had been known as Grove Street, which was much later changed to Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

This signpost, positioned at the creek, remains the only visible memory of the Town's northern limit.


Annexation and the New Charter


In 1909 Berkeley was rechartered as a city, and Beverly L. Hodgehead was elected its first mayor with 2520 votes; his nearest rival receiving only 1404 votes. The new city status and the new mayor were to start in 1910, and in the interim, as mayor pro tem, sat Francis Ferrier. Mr Ferrier, another actor in the early days of Berkeley who was no stranger to the real estate business, is now perhaps best known as the author of several books having to do with the history of Berkeley.

The new City was to be governed by a mayor and four councilmen, the mayor having a vote but no power of veto. The foremost intent of the new charter was to have the city run by businessmen, not politicians. It included a small council with large powers and full responsibility, with the power of veto residing with the voters. The small council is vested with full legislative and administrative powers; the council is given power to appoint city officials and all who hold office do so at the pleasure of the council, with the exception of the auditor, a position which is popularly elected. The charter abolished the party primary, the party convention and all forms of party nomination. All nominations were by petition only with no party designation on the ticket, each candidate needed only twenty-five signatures to quality. Beverly Hodghead was elected to serve one year. His first action, following the election, was to form a committee of citizens to represent the city in all matters. In short, the elected council was effectively made irrelevant. His committee was constituted of those citizens who were active in his election: Max Thelen, C. C. Juster, Frank Naylor, J. Q. Easton, W.A. Gates, Victor J. Robertson, Perry Tompkins, H. D. Irwin and L.H. Levan. At the time of his election Clement Calhoun Young was then an assemblyman and his next move, with Young’s help, was to attempt to institute a Municipal/County government for Berkeley. This never happened. Mr Hodghead was born in Lexington, Virginia in 1865 and came to California at the age of 16. He entered the University of California and left after his first year. In 1889 he enrolled in Hastings Law School and graduated in 1891, the seventh in his class. Prior to obtaining his legal education, he worked as a teacher in local schools, and married Nellie Eckles, whom he met while teaching, in 1894. Otherwise, or perhaps foremost, Mr Hodgehead was active in San Francisco affairs, acted as a popular toastmaster, became president of the Commonwealth Club in 1915 and president of the San Francisco Bar Association in the 1920s. He died in 1928.

Hodgehead was apparently not clear on what he needed to do with regard to securing his second term as Berkeley’s mayor, and approached the process with all the arrogance of a man who could not imagine a viable adversary or his being out of office after one short term. In this race there were few contenders, and these of no moment.

And then, into this political void came Stitt Wilson. Mr Wilson was good looking, bright, articulate, not a businessman or a politician, but was known as a great lecturer. He was also dismissed as a socialist crackpot and not given any chance of winning. He was not taken seriously by the incumbent until the other aspirants had dropped out and Hodghead saw that he was now facing a real threat with a respectable following. Hodghead went into action, but it was by then too late. As it turned out, Wilson won and became Berkeley’s second, one term mayor —and our only Socialist mayor so far.

Berkeley, from the outset, was a thorn in the side of Oakland’s power elite. They were instrumental in setting the conditions of the townships 1878 charter in such a manner as to virtually ensure its failure. But it did not fail, rather it gave every indication of prospering, after a few dismal years of struggle against the imposed constraints. As the first decade of the new century drew to a close, and Berkeley had changed from a Town to a City, Oakland renewed its effort to embrace, within its dominion, the northernmost portions of Rancho San Antonio, this time with a proposal for annexation. To sweeten the pot, they suggested that the new entity be called “Berkeley”, thereby dropping the name “Oakland”. In large part, this was motivated by the relatively lower property tax structure in Berkeley, which, combined with a higher assessed value on property, generated more tax per property than did the Oakland system. However, the real reasons for this quest for annexation were never made clear, particularly in the public media. The issue was put to a vote in the 1910 election in Berkeley, and it lost 1402 to 4009. This was the same election which brought Stitt Wilson to the mayor’s office.

At this point, Berkeley had emerged from its struggles against dreadful odds and those malign but colorful profiteers who came to exploit a dispirited populace, to a municipality that would continue to grow and to prosper. It held a respectable membership in the greater bay area community of cities, it had attracted the support of thriving businesses and industries, and it had an income that would support further civic improvements. It also had a library system, a police department headed up by a bright, popular and progressive chief, an effective fire department, and a transportation system that both supported commerce and permitted its use as a bedroom community serving both the various employees of Oakland’s businesses and those who earned their living in the fiscal center of Northern California, San Francisco. Within the next half century the city would continue to expand until it had absorbed all of the remaining unincorporated lands of Domingo Peralta’s original legacy. The history of Berkeley is unlike that of other cities, reflecting more an uneasy coalition of scattered communities rather than the typical concentric expansion from a more or less unified nuclear community. Its history, however, is no more atypical than the events that would follow, even to the present time.

AFTERTHOUGHT:

This story was to conclude with the end of the first decade of the 20th century. However, there is at least one important loose end, and one notable character who has been mentioned but not described. It would be best to include these remaining details, even if they must be relegated to the status of an addendum.

John Hopkins Spring
In 1920, the last major component of North Berkeley was incorporated into the city limits. This sector included the Cragmont and the 1000 Oaks neighborhoods. In large measure, the principal developer involved in these sections, but clearly not unconnected to the prevailing real estate corporations, was John Hopkins Spring. Spring was involved mainly with the Mason McDuffie organization, in particular, Louis Titus and Wiggington Ellis Creed. These three men constituted the partners and officers of the Berkeley Development Company as well as the North Berkeley Land Company. Mr Spring was also a business partner of Francis Smith and Frank Havens and with them he was involved both in the development of the Claremont Hotel as well as the plan to relocate the State Capitol to Berkeley. In 1906 Spring acquired a 142 acre tract around El Cerrito Hill (Albany Hill) from the Realty Syndicate and laid out the subdivisions that formed the basis for the city of Albany. His development was called Regent Park, which partially extended into Berkeley. In 1909 he acquired an additional 92 acres from the Syndicate, east of his original acquisition, and laid out the 1000 Oaks subdivision.

John Hopkins

Spring ws born in San Francisco in December of 1862, the grandson of a retired sea captain who had settled in San Francisco in 1852. His father, Francisco Samuel and his uncle John were partners in a thriving real estate firm, and it was under their instruction that he learned the business. In 1888 John married Celina Dusperry Warfield, who came into the marriage with two children from a prior union; together they had five more. After his father died in 1897 he moved his family to Oakland where they lived on a large estate until 1912. His inheritance included lands in Decoto, Oakland, and the Galpin ranch in El Cerrito. Over the years he acquired property in the tidelands along the Oakland-Berkeley-Richmond waterfront and in 1925 sold them to the Santa Fe Railroad.

In 1904 Spring purchased the Dunn estate in the Hopkins Terrace subdivision which included the quarry Dunn had run from 1879 to the turn of the century. At that point he formed the Spring Construction Company, with Louis Titus and Wiggington Creed as his partners. He maintained a depot at the Old Boswell ranch which he purchased in 1906, and there kept his mules, his equipment, and his workers. This depot was located just East of Neilson St and just North of Solano Avenue. This location is currently bordered by the city of Albany on the West and South such that Solano Avenue, roughly between Neilson and Ensenada, has its north side in Berkeley, and its south side in Albany.

This odd arrangement came about during the incorporation of Albany. Spring and associates did not favor the plan of Albany’s independent incorporation. Albany’s plans were to extend the eastern boundary of the new city at least as far as Colusa Avenue. However, Spring had a crew located at his depot that was large enough to influence the vote for incorporation, so the founders of Albany, determined to ensure incorporation, elected to remove one corner of their proposed acquisition. Springs depot was thereby placed outside the revised city limits, and the dissenting vote was eliminated.

The 1000 Oaks tract was laid out by John Spring in 1909; the eastern end of Solano Avenue is included in this tract. In 1911 Spring arranged for the Southern Pacific Electric Train tracks to be extended from Berryman Station, through the tunnel which was to be built under the Marin Circle, and down Solano Avenue; the Solano tunnel was completed in 1912. Its construction was a “roofed-over open cut”, meaning that a trench was cut through the hill which was later covered over. The new terminal on Solano Avenue was later replaced by the Oaks Theater.

In 1912 Spring built his own home in the 1000 Oaks neighborhood, a mansion and estate designed by John Hudson Thomas, just off Arlington Avenue. Three years later he left his wife for another woman, was severely criticized by the community, and the one street that had been named after him was changed to Scenic Avenue. As a result of his perceived indiscretions, there remains nothing to serve as a memorial to this man who played such an important role in the formation of the city of Berkeley. Mr Spring died in Los Gatos, California in the Spring of 1933, at the age of 70 years.



[Chapter 14 ] -[Chapter Index] - [Chapter 01]

[TOP]