Sometimes, “what’s new” is not as interesting as “what’s old.” That’s certainly the case with the grand old buildings in Downtown Alameda.
Prior to 1864, Alameda was home to a few small farmhouses scattered around the peninsula. However, things began to change in that year when a rail and ferry system was introduced to the city. With the improved transportation, businesses began to crop up near the train stations.
By 1905 over 150 structures lined Park Street and the surrounding roads. Apparently this became an ideal place to build a bank, or two, or three…
We invite you to step back in time and take a stroll through Downtown Alameda. Look for these large ornate bank buildings that are contributors to the Park Street Historic Commercial District (National Register, 1982):
Citizens Bank of Alameda Building
1500-1504 Park Street
The Citizens Bank building was completed in 1907 at a cost of $30,000 and was the second reinforced concrete structure on Park Street,. It was designed by Oliver & Foulkes, and built by Grank B. Gulbreth & Co. A major addition completed in 1924 nearly quadrupled its size to the current dimensions.
What’s there now? This is the easiest bank building to spot and houses the longest serving bank in Alameda. Citizens Bank was acquired in the 1920’s by the Bank of Italy, which was to become the Bank of America in 1930. Bank of America is still there, along with many professional businesses that are located on the second floor above.
Post Office Block/Commercial National Bank Building
1350-1364 Park Street
The Post Office Block was a landmark of 19th century Park Street. It housed Alameda’s main post office from 1890-1900, and then the Commercial National Bank starting in 1922. William Patton, the designer, was a noted San Francisco architect and Alameda resident.
Originally, the corner building was a prominent example of Queen Anne commercial architecture. In 1938, the bank commissioned a major remodel, resulting in the building’s present “Streamline Moderne” appearance.
What’s there now? The expansive building went through an additional renovation in the late 1990’s and is home to Sumbody and the Sumtime Spa, Perfect Vision 1 (eyewear boutique), House of Bagels, and Starbucks coffee house.
Alameda Savings Bank Building
1400-1410 Park Street
Everybody is familiar with the sight of the corner building at 1400 Central Ave, although few know that it was originally home to the Alameda Savings Bank. Even fewer people know that the handsome and intact building next door was erected as income property for the bank. The building at 1410 Park Street was built at a cost of $30,000 in 1910 by the Alameda firm of MacRae & Swenson. The stuccoed north wall is adjoined by a fragment of the Artesian Waterworks Building, which was demolished in 1955. The building is noteworthy not only for its distinguished architecture, but for its historic integrity.
What’s there now? Toy Safari offers one of the best selections of kids toys in the East Bay. Upstairs, you’ll find Alameda Ballet Academy (with affiliate Alameda Civic Ballet — known for its annual Nutcracker performance) which was founded in 2003 by Artistic Director Abra Rudisill. Next door in the corner building (partly shown to the right) is Capone’s Speakeasy in the former bank building.
There are many more historic structures to see! Keep an eye on this site for future posts or view the history of Downtown Alameda on our website: www.DowntownAlameda.com/History.
# # #
ACB’s The Nutcracker
Saturday, December 19, 2015 at 2:00pm
Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 2:00pm
Kofman Theater, 2200 Central Avenue, Alameda, California
This holiday season prepare to be transported on a magical journey with Clara and the Nutcracker Prince. From the heroic battle against the Mouse King, travel through the Land of the Snowflakes and on to the Kingdom of the Sweets. There you will meet the Sugar Plum Fairy and be entertained by the wonders of the Land of Enchantment. Choreographed by Artistic Director Abra Rudisill with gorgeous costumes and beautiful sets — all to the classic Tchaikovsky score — this is a production sure to bring out the child in all of us. Ticket info: www.alamedacivicballet.org/nutcracker
# # #
You’ll always find great food & drink establishments, charming shops, friendly services, and fun things to do in Downtown Alameda! To learn more about the businesses and events in Downtown Alameda, visit our new website: www.DowntownAlameda.com.