unknown date 3

The Dietz-Boyer Estate was a 14-room Gothic style home on 6 acres of gardens at 5403 San Pablo Avenue, built for Alfred C. Dietz. It was later owned by his daughter, Alice Mary Dietz (Boyer) and her husband, Robert J. Boyer.

The home was built in 1865, and was later described by the Berkeley Daily Gazette as "Oakland's first mansion," though this may be an exaggeration. 1 The grounds had an impressive collection of statues and well-maintained gardens. Dietz purchased three cast iron statues when Woodward's Gardens in San Francisco closed in 1892. 5

"No home in Oakland has had the history of family tenure and meticulous care as had the Dietz home. Its lawns so beautifully kept, the statues so awe-inspiring and those giant poplar trees that bordered their street frontage."
— unknown Oakland resident 2

Boyer survived Alice Dietz (and the other children of A.C. Dietz) by several years, and he lived out his days in the mansion with his full-time housekeeper, cook, and gardener. After his death in 1943, the contents were auctioned off. 4 The Dietz mansion was demolished in short order and new streets were cut through the property: 54th Street west of San Pablo, which ends in cul-de-sac, and Boyer Street, connecting the new 54th to 53rd. A number of identical two-story apartment buildings were built in 1944 along the new 54th Street; almost all of them stand today. On the San Pablo Avenue frontage of the former estate, larger lots were left. They now house the Chaparral Motel and Giant Burger. The front door of the mansion, were it still standing, would be at approximately the northwest corner of the Giant Burger parking lot.

1877 map detail1911 Sanborn excerptfrom Oakland History Center, Oakland Public Library1937 5

Links and References

  1. So We're Told: Could Be Museum Berkeley Daily Gazette September 28, 1943
  2. "The Home of Mr. Dietz" by William Sturm, Oakland Heritage Alliance newsletter, Summer 1988
  3. Knave: Spotlight Architecture Oakland Tribune June 2, 1968 (p2)
  4. Historic Art Treasures Go On Auction Block at Famed Boyer Home Tomorrow Oakland Tribune February 6, 1944
  5. Woodward's Garden Relics Are Still Found in Oakland Oakland Tribune February 18, 1937