The building historically known as Kessler & Kessler - The Vauban Building is a small two-story brick and concrete store and office building located at 516-520 - 16th Street. It was constructed for The Vauban restaurant at 518 - 16th Street, which opened in January 1923. 1,2
The restaurant was closed by the end of 1928. 3,6 In April 1931, the building became the home of the Oakland Remedial Loan Association. The large vault shown on the 1951 Sanborn was added at that point. 4
[ Question: the 1967 reverse directory lists Aetna Finance at 516, and Kessler, Kessler and Greenberg (Lawyers) at 520, which the 1951 Sanborn shows as the now vacant lot next door. Was this building actually once Kessler, et al? See the Address section below. This 1922 article about Ground Gripper shoes suggests they were next door. ]
[Perhaps an answer: The former Ground Gripper building was gone by 1947 and the space used as part of a parking lot, according to this aerial photo (which HistoricAerials lists as being from 1946). The current building at 516-520 16th Street was supposedly modified to be a law office in 1953 -- and that's about the time that Kessler & Kessler started, so I would assume they modified this specific building. Note this listing for K&K at 520 16th Street in 1955 (haven't checked 1954 or 1953). When Aetna Finance opened up in 1958, their address was 512 16th Street, but in 1960 the address changed to 516 16th Street, without any mention of a new loction. My guess is that Aetna moved into the old East Bay Water / EBMUD building, not this building, and the addresses for this block simply moved around a bit. Note that the 1967 reverse directory listed above showed that EBMUD had moved to 250 17th Street by that point.]
It was later used as an office and service location for Travelers Aid, but then was vacant for a few years. The building was briefly taken over by Occupy Oakland activists on the night of November 2, 2011. In 2023, it is the home of Buty & Curliano, a law firm.
The building was originally a Beaux Arts derivative office building designed by architects Cecil Moyer and Reed and Corlett in 1922, with construction completed by F.A. Muller in 1923. 1,5 In 1931, the building was lightly remodeled and dedicated as a "new building" valued at $80,000. 4 It was more extensively remodeled by builder A.S. Homes & Son in 1953 into a plain-looking brick box. 5
"As remodeled in 1953, it has an asymmetrical late Moderne shadow box facade with tall plate glass windows on the second story and an angled ground floor storefront, framed by smooth, sharp-edged, rectangular expanses of red brick veneer in stack bond above and on the left side, and a narrow pier surfaced with gray spatter finish enameled metal on the right. The trapezoidal inset entry is paved with pink and charcoal terrazzo. The east side wall, exposed over a neighboring driveway, is tan brick with the remains of an original 1922 terra cotta cornice molding. Originally built as a restaurant and remodeled as law offices, this is one of the more interesting of a number of late Moderne remodelings Downtown." 5
This historic building is #57 on the list of District Contributors/Noncontributors for the Downtown Oakland Historic District. 5 The building is a noncontributor.
c.2015, the building was remodeled again.
The address has changed several times. On the 1889 Sanborn, it is listed as 520, a 2-story residence. The 1912 Sanborn shows a renumbering to 518, still a 2-story residence. When The Vauban opened, it was still 518, but when the Oakland Remedial Loan Association remodeled in 1931, it was 516. When it was Travelers Aid, it was 520. Finally, sometime around the 2015 remodel, the address was returned to 516.
Links and References
- New Vauban Home Nearing Completion Oakland Post-Enquirer January 27, 1923
- opening ad Oakland Post-Enquirer January 30, 1923
- Trustee's Sale In The Matter of THE VAUBAN, Inc. Oakland Tribune November 11, 1928
- New Building Dedicated Oakland Tribune April 13, 1931
- National Register of Historic Places Registration Form - Downtown Oakland Historic District.pdf
- ad for auction Oakland Tribune July 29, 1928