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Castle Apartments is an apartment building at 4154 Piedmont Avenue. It was built in 1911, designed by Clay N. Burrell.

When constructed, it had a 'unique' telephone intercom system where visitors could push a button and it would dial the appropriate apartment. The tenant could then push a button and open the door for the visitor. 1

The apartments also featured Marshall & Stearns portal beds. Similar to Murphy beds, the beds could be hidden in a special closet when not in use. 2 They could be let down into the living room, or "by a slight motion, in agreeable weather, the bed will turn about and can be let down into the sleeping porch." 1

Side note: apparently there were many similarities between Marshall & Stearns beds and Murphy beds, to the point of a lawsuit in 1911 regarding patent #892,668 by Charles R. Jordan which Marshall & Stearns had the rights to. 3

In 1913, William J. Sofield was the manager, and it had a branch of the Oakland Free Library in the basement. 9

From at least 1914 to 1921, the building was owned by Flora Morrill. 6,8 On November 20, 1914, a small fire broke out in the furnace room, but the fire department arrived quickly and prevented it from spreading. 6 In 1916, a water heater exploded in the basement, causing some damage. 7

On February 26, 1940, a fire broke out in a cosmetics manufacturing plant in the basement. It damaged the ice cream parlor on the ground floor, and the smoke forced all 14 families to evacuate the building. 5

In 1967, Joseph Cloutier was the manager. 12

1911 classified1927 classified1940 classified

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Ground Level

The Piedmont Avenue side is designed as a commercial space with addresses 4150, 4152, 4156 and 4158, and is currently home to Gaylord's Caffe and other shops. There is a large, colorful mural on the 41st Street side.

Business Year(s) Address Notes
Royal Grocery Co. 1913-1915 4150 1913 directory
(John P.) Johnson's Market 1923-1928 4150 O-W Grocery ad
Peakes Ice Cream parlor 1940 4158 1940 fire
Sprouse-Reitz Co. 1944 4150  
Dr. Semon Ambrose 1944 4156  
Gaylord's Caffe ?-present 4150  
Greetings ?-present 4152  
Given Gold ?-present 4156  
Folk's Art ?-present 4158  


Here is a partial list of residents, based on newspaper stories and other sources.

Name Year(s) Notes
W. J. Scofield 1913 registered car
John H. Brown 1916 apartment burgled
William B. McGerry 1916 died after moving from SF
J. H. Holmes 1919 bought a Studebaker
L. J. Lamb 1920 hoax victim
Harrison D. Rowe 1920 potential juror
Flora Ayres Morrill 1921 pioneer resident died 8
C. C. Griffin 1921 VP of National Assoc. of Motion Picture Producers
M. A. Conrell 1922 answered Tribune puzzle
Maude Elliott 1933 Westway Club meeting
Norman Davis
Mrs. L. Davis
1934 made Eagle Scout
L. E. Flynn 1937 son Lawrence Edward Flynn born
Jack Schulz 1937 hit pedestrian
John W. Brown 1940 1940 directory 11
Audrain Eggum 1940 1940 directory 11
Mrs. W. Stauber 1940 1940 directory 11
William J. Waterson 1940 1940 directory 11
Bradford Webster 1940 1940 directory 11
William S. Hyde 1941 called up for Army Officer Reserves
William John Opie 1943-1944 daughter born
Mrs. P. E. Cohn 1940-1944 meeting of homemaking department P-TA
William Bunn 1944 1944 directory 10
Gordon W. Corson 1944 1944 directory 10
G. A. Dickson 1940-1944 1944 directory 10
Mrs. M. Jacks 1940-1944 nurse; 1944 directory 10
W. H. Renwick 1944 1944 directory 10
Earl L. Wanley 1944 1944 directory 10
Walter E. Wold 1944 drugstore holdup victim
Angela Ebenger 1944 marriage license issued
Anite Lillian Gates 1944 marriage license issued
George Joseph Hodder
Helen B. Hodder
1940 directory 11
son killed in action
Charles E. Paganetti 1945 son born
Paula Cohn 1946 marriage license issued (daughter of Mrs. P. E.?)
Paul L. Osterman 1946 discharged from army
Bert Kinnear 1948 liquor store manager and holdup victim

Links and References

portal bed 4

  1. Oakland Newest Apartment House Oakland Tribune August 27, 1911
  2. Bungalow Details: Interiors by Jane Powell and Linda Svendsen
  3. Marshall & Stearns Company vs. Murphy Manufacturing Company US Court of Appeals, 9th Circuit
  4. Architect and Engineer 1919
  5. Fireman Rescue 14 Families in Piedmont Blaze Oakland Tribune February 27, 1940
  6. Fire Threatens Apartment Oakland Tribune November 20, 1914
  7. Heater Explodes; Damages Apartment Oakland Tribune August 21, 1916
  8. Pioneer Oakland Resident is Dead Oakland Tribune April 14, 1921
  9. Polk-Husted 1913
  10. 1944 Street Directory
  11. 1940 Street Directory
  12. Polk's Oakland 1967
  13. Historic cemetery, Piedmont Ave. offer lovely reasons for a stroll by Annalee Allen Oakland Tribune April 3, 2006