One Kelton Court, Oakland, California (JL)

This entry isn’t really about the ginormous, 11-story apartment building at One Kelton Court (built 1974, according to Trulia). Instead, information is sought on the beautiful Victorian mansion, demolished sometime in the 1960’s, that formerly stood on the site amid an acre of landscaped grounds. The mansion may have had a slightly different address, as the few old records I was able to find have nothing addressed in the single digits for Kelton Court.

Excerpt from 1911-12 Sanborn map, showing the site of what is now One Kelton Court
(public domain)
According to Sanborn maps, what is now One Kelton Court was originally the site of two separate houses; one at 137 Kelton Court, and the other at 133 (later changed to 135) Kelton Court (the addresses appeared to continue in a series from what is now known as Monte Cresta Ave., but was identified as Selbourne Ave. in 1912). The home at 137 Kelton had a larger ground floor area, but the home at 135 Kelton was a two-story home. Oh, and according to a quick review of directories, somebody known as H. H. Haight (probably this grandson of former governor Henry H. Haight) lived at 135 Kelton, and somebody known as C. E. Mooser lived at 137 Kelton.

So, JL — which of these houses is the Victorian you remember?

The H.C. Capwell mansion at 145 Monte Cresta was torn down in 1954 and replaced with an apartment building. That’s separate from the One Kelton building. 11-15-54 Trib.pdf

H.C. Capwell’s “Lost Dog” notice in the Tribune, 1918.

The whole area about a block south of Piedmont Ave., roughly where Glen Echo creek runs, looks to have been sort of a rich person’s playground (c. 1880–1930 or so), with other mansions etc., but I’ve so far only come across indirect mentions – not yet enough hard data to post on the wiki. - M

According to the Nov. 1954 Tribune article, “Artworks in the house, including a marble fountain imported from Italy, will be preserved. The fountain will be the garden centerpiece in the new apartment…” A marble fountain from Italy? California has no shortage of local marble. And Capwell wasn’t even Italian (?) … who else around Oakland would go to the considerable extra expense of importing a marble fountain from Italy? You don’t suppose … naah. Capwell wouldn’t have bought the fountain from the Ghirardelli heirs, would he? - M  There's nothing special about importing a finished marble fountain from Italy for the interior of a house. California -- certainly the Bay area -- has no good sculptural marble - A

Mike, thank you for doing all this research on an old mansion I remembered! It sounds like the right house, but if Capwell’s home really was torn down in 1954, then it had to be another mansion that was next to it (I’m not that old!). I was taken there with family to tour the beautiful home one last time (there were other folks in the neighborhood viewing it as well) while men were stripping all the gorgeous fixtures before it was to be demolished a few days later. Had to have been in the early to mid 1960’s. Really made an impression ... thought the interior was one of the most beautiful homes I had ever seen (at that time, through the eyes of a young child) and was upset that something so lovely was torn down and hauled away. JL

This is so Twilight Zone! Everything in the November 15, 1954 Tribune article is exactly what I remember, only a decade too soon for me to have been there! And the sketch in the article does look a bit like 1 Kelton Court, that currently stands at the end of the cul de sac.

Looking at Google maps, it’s clear that the sketch in the ‘54 Trib article is the current building at 145 Monte Cresta, even matching the shape and orientation of the buildings. I think Mike’s concept of a rich person’s playground is our clue here — and you’re thinking of one of the homes that used to exist where One Kelton is now. — NAParish