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The Surety Mortgage/Capwell Company Building is located at 416-20 Fifteenth Street, Oakland, California. Designed by architects William Knowles and Charles W. Dickey, the Beaux Arts derivative - Gothic Revival store building was constructed in 1922.

This one story brick store building is on an interior lot, in a three bay enframed window wall composition with an elaborately decorated parapet.  The upper wall is surfaced with yellow pressed brick with a reddish brick diamond pattern and beige terra cotta trim.  Wide crenels over each bay are filled in with terra cotta panels with a Gothic "S" motif, and the molded terra cotta coping is capped with scrolled elements.

Two storefronts retain early deeply recessed entries with black and gold edged glass, parquet floored show windows, and marble base.  Storefronts have been framed with molded aluminum.  The center transom has a series of pointed arched panes within a wide segmental arch; the other two are covered.  The present facade is apparently a 1922 alteration of a totally different 1913 style building.

The building is one of several small speculative commercial real estate ventures in Downtown Oakland by department store owner H. C. Capwell in the 1920s, including the neighborhood 426-30 Fifteenth Street (1924).  The ornament is typical of architect William Knowles who later in 1922 designed the Gothic ornamented Roos Brothers store on the same block at 1500 Broadway. 1

This historic building is #51 on the list of District Contributors for the Downtown Oakland Historic District Registration Form.

Links and References

  1. National Register of Historic Places Registration Form: Downtown Oakland Historic District