Tuesday, November 01, 2005

William Crocker House

From: Grambo10@aol.com

By way of introducing myself, I am Barbara Smith, a life-long California history buff and founder of the docent program at historic Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, CA, where Charles Crocker is buried.

... one of your photos is mislabeled ... the glass plate image of what is labeled as Charles Crocker's San Francisco house. Actually, it is his son William's house built sometime after Charles Crocker's 1888 death, on the lot next to the Charles Crocker home. After both houses were destroyed in the 1906 earthquake/fire, William Crocker gave both lots to the Episcopal Diocese as the site of Grace Cathedral.

The property faces on California Street and is bounded by Jones, Sacramento, and Taylor Streets.

The following link will take you to a picture of Charles Crocker's house taken about 1878. Charles Crocker's house is the great dark pile at the upper left in the photo. The adjoining property which was to become the site of William's house is the upward-sloping lot behind Crocker's house – obviously a great deal of grading was done before William's house was built, as the entire property is quite level today. William Crocker apparently liked the iron fencing around his father's property, as he installed the identical fencing around his house.

A note of interest, in the photograph of the Charles Crocker house, you will note a high wooden barrier that appears to grow out of the white house located in the center of the photograph. Actually, that is the 40' high "Spite Fence" Charles Crocker built around three sides of the property of one Nicholas Yung, a German undertaker who refused to sell his property to Crocker. Mr. Young could then see out only through his front windows!

The white house next to Crocker's was built by the CPRR's David D. Colton, and after his death was owned by Collis P. Huntington – now the site of Huntington Park.

I enjoyed looking at your website.

Barbara Smith

Charles Crocker Mansion, Nob Hill, San Francisco
Lantern Slide. Black and white glass slide image of the house of Charles Crocker, one of the Big Four of Central Pacific Railroad fame. This palatial home on Nob Hill cost $2,300,000 and contained a fully equipped theater, library, and billiard room. An imposing seventy-six-foot tower offered Crocker an uninterrupted view of the entire Bay Area. The house has long since disappeared and Grace Cathedral now stands on this site in San Francisco, California. The handwritten inscription reads:
"No. 13375 Cal. San Francisco, Residence of Crocker Railway magnate."

Image and Caption courtesy John Fillmore.


Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: "Bruce C. Cooper" BCC@CPRR.ORG

Thanks for your interesting email and correction relating to the William Crocker house. I am quite familiar with Mountain View Cemetery as I spent a long and most delightful afternoon there in August, 2004, while visiting friends in Concord who have members of four generations of their family buried there. While there I also visited the massive tomb of Charles Crocker up on "Millionaire's Row" as well as the resting places of a number of other important CPRR related figures there such as David Colton, Thomas Hill, David Hewes, and the ever colorful Willim Gwin. Mountain View is certainly amost beautiful and historically quite interesting property.

As for my own connection with Oakland, my great grandfather, Russell M. Clement, was the City Engineer for the City of Oakland from the late 1890's through the early decades of the 20th century. (He was born in Illinoistown (now Colfax) in 1865 while his father, Lewis Metzler Clement, was building the CPRR across the Sierras.) My grandfather, Lewis Mason Clement, also an engineer, was born and raised in Oakland and graduated from Berkeley in 1914. (I was born in and have lived in Philadelphia all my life but visit the Bay Area once of twice a year.)

I am also quite familiar with the beautiful area on Nob Hill where the mansions of the Big Four were located, and with the magnificent Grace Cathedral and lovely Huntington Park. (I have also been a guest at the Mark Hopkins.) It is too bad that only the former Flood mansion remains to suggest what these couple of blocks must have looked like for those few brief decades between the time these great houses were built and their loss in the 1906 earthquake and fire! If they looked anything like the Charles Crocker tomb they must have been impressive indeed.

As a California history buff you may of special interest ... our ... history of the Palace Hotel and also might enjoy my most recent book which contains a good bit of period material on the Bay Area as well as on travel over the Pacific Railroad in it early years.

I would certainly be most interested in any information and/or materials that you might have about the tombs, etc, of the CPRR related figures at Mountain View.

—Bruce Clement Cooper

11/01/2005 5:39 PM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

See views of Crocker, Colton, Hewes, & Hill graves at Mountain view

11/05/2005 9:16 AM  
Blogger CPRR Discussion Group said...

From: Hsweetser@aol.com
Subject: Re: Views of Crocker, Colton, Hewes, & Hill graves

A.N. Towne is also buried at Mountain View Cemetery. Here is his bio from a guide to notable guests the cemetery put out:

"Alban Nelson Towne b. 1829 d. 1896

"His father died when Towne was a child and he helped support the family. One of his jobs as a young man was working on the railroad. He served as General Assistant Superintendent of the CB&Q until 1869 when he became General Superintendent of the Central Pacific RR. In 1850 he married Caroline Amelia Mansfield and they had one daughter. The home he built in San Francisco was destroyed by the 1906 fire, but the entrance portico was left standing. This handsome architectural piece was moved to Golden Gate Park, where it survives as "Portals of the Past."

—John Sweetser

12/28/2005 9:35 AM  

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