Oakland Seminary for Young Ladies
image from 1863 program via OMCA collections

The Oakland Seminary for Young Ladies (aka "Oakland Seminary") was a school for young women started by Millicent Kittredge Blake (aka "Mrs. G. M. Blake"). The seminary occupied a variety of buildings in downtown Oakland, but is best known for "Blake House" where the Oakland Convention Center now stands.

Established on November 8, 1858 in a private parlor at 6th Street and Broadway, the seminary merged with the Pacific Female College in 1871. After closing in ___, the school reopened sometime in 1891.

Photographed by Frank B. Rodolph  UC Berkeley Bancroft Library

From A History of Berkeley

According to A History of Berkeley, From the Ground Up (historyofberkeley.org):

Mrs. Blake's Female Seminary, Washington Street, between 11th and 12th Streets, Oakland (1860 - 1870) 1The Oakland Seminary for Young Ladies was started by Millicent Blake on November 8, 1858 in a private parlor at Broadway and 6th Street with four young women in the class. This first location was right next to where Durant's first school was housed in the "Pavilion", on the corner now occupied by the Oakland Police Department. On April 1, 1859 Millicent moved to a larger room at Broadway and 8th Streets, adjacent to the Shattuck-Hilligass [sic] Livery and later to the building which housed the Shattuck-Hilligass [sic] Opera House, where she remained until March of 1860. At that point she moved to the corner of 5th and Jackson Streets, the former home of J. Ross Browne. The school remained at that location for the next 4 years. Construction of new buildings commenced in June 1863, and was completed on October 24, 1869, located at 528 11th Street, between Washington & Clay. This move would end her odyssey, for this was her own building with construction beginning in June of 1863, and completed in October. The building became known as "Blake House." Oakland City Center now occupies this site. Millicent sent for her sister Mary who arrived to teach History and Literature, while Mlle. Ferrier taught Dancing. In 1881 Millicent, now six years a widow, was living at Blake House, where she was listed as being its "proprietor." In 1887 she resided around the corner at 1121 Washington St., probably in the same building, with her sister Mrs. Elizabeth Shattuck Havens, also a widow. At the time of Millicent's death, on November 27, 1907, she was almost 86 years old.

Course of Study - 1869

from 1869 directory 2

Primary Department

Reading, Spelling, Geograpliy, Arithmetic, History, Penmanship, and Composition.

Preparatory Department

Reading, Orthography, Grammar, Geography, Arithmetic (Intellectual and Practical), History, Penmanship, and Composition.

Collegiate Department

First Year: Algebra, Physical Geography, Physiology, History, Natural Philosophy, English Grammar and Analysis, Botany, and Mythology.
Second Year: Geometry and Trigonometry, Astronomy, Geology, Ancient History and Geography, Rhetoric, Chemistry and English Literature.
Third Year: Logic, Intellectual Philosophy, Paley's Evidences of Christianity, Moral Philosophy, Ecclesiastical History, Kames' Elements of Criticism, Butler's Analogy. Critical Readings and Composition-Writing through the whole course.

Optional Studies

French, German, Spanish and Latin.


Instrumental Music (Piano and Guitar), Drawing, Crayoning, and Painting (in Water Colors, Pastel and Oils), Ornamental Needle Work, Wax Fruit, Flower and Shell Work.
Composition, Yocal Music, Reading, and Calisthenics are regular exeecises through the course of study.

Faculty - 1898

  • Mrs. Millicent K. Blake - Principal
  • T. D. Adams, A.M. - Master - Classics, English and Oratorical Work
  • Mrs. T.D. Adams - Preceptress - English and Mathematics
  • Madame V. Lefebre-Hooper - French
  • Mrs. R. H, Hohfeld* - German
  • Miss Harrie Borland* - Mathematics
  • Mrs. Dr. Sarah Graves - Physiology, Sewing and Embroidery
  • Miss Hobart - Elocutionary Etiquette
  • Miss Edith Backus* - Principal of Primary Department
  • Miss Rena Hertzler and Miss Ida Egli - Kindergarten
  • Prof. R. H. Hohfeld - Piano and Harmony
  • Miss Flora Kendall - Piano
  • Prof. Henri Fairweather - Vocal Music
  • A. T. Stewart - Violin
  • Miss Theresa Sherwood - Guitar, Mandolin and Banjo
  • Mrs. M. C. Richardson - Drawing and Painting

* - graduate of Oakland Seminary for Young Ladies

Other Faculty

  • Prof. Charles Ames Spencer - Literature (formerly of Polytechnic Institute of New York) - c. 1870

From 1892-1893 directory:

Links and References

  1. Society of California Pioneers
  2. 1869 directory
  3. 1892-1893 directory