CC SA-BY Our Oakland

Melrose Baptist Church was a Baptist church at 1652 - 47th Avenue at the corner of Bond Street.

The congregation was founded in 1896; 1 the current building was dedicated in 1930. At some point after 1974, 2 they moved to the hills and changed their name to East Hills Community Church. The church building served for a time as the home of Masjidul Waritheen, but that mosque moved one block east, and the building is now being transformed by Riaz Capital into a 60-unit residential project called Melrose Lofts.

It was remodeled while the building was Masjidul Waritheen. It won an Oakland Heritage Alliance Partners In Preservation Award in 2000. 25


The congregation was founded in 1896. According to a 1927 article, the original meeting place was destroyed in a 1898 explosion of a fuse factory. After that, they found a new meeting location. 15 In 1903, they were meeting at Harrison (45th Avenue) and East 12th. 17

A new building at Bryant (46th Avenue) and Bond was dedicated in 1907. F. L. Stannard was the acting pastor of the church. 3

November 7, 1908 sermon topicsIn 1908, Walter E. Tanner was the pastor. He spoke out about reform, both against vices, like racetracks, and political corruption. Apparently this annoyed some of the people he was speaking out against, because they arranged a vote to say the congregation didn't want him to return for another term. 4 It was quickly pointed out that this hadn't been vote of the full congregation, and Rev. Tanner continued as pastor and continued speaking out against corruption. 5,6,7 He felt he wasn't getting enough support, though, and resigned in February, 1909. 8 An editorial in the Oakland Tribune was scathing, concluding with: "Perhaps he is only a cheap and noisy pharisee seeking notoriety by preaching the gospel of detraction and malediction, and mistaking the instincts of the showman for the promptings of God's words." 9

After some supply pastors, Francis M. Archer became pastor. But things were not smooth there, either. By the end of 1913, the church had asked him to resign, but he refused. The deacons of the church said he had refused to cooperate with evangelists that were hired, "opposed the expulsion of a certain member of the congregation who had incurred the enmity of others," and a had a list of other offenses. It was said that the majority of the church supported him, but about 40 members (out of about 190) including the deacons did not. 10 After a vote, the church elected to keep Archer as pastor. 11 But the writing was on the wall; by the end of 1914, they had another pastor, Rev. Britton Ross.

Beginning sometime around 1917, Rev. H. D. Zimmerman was pastor through the end of 1923. D. M. Dawson, formerly of the Central Baptist Church of San Francisco accepted the call in January, 1924. 11 Dawson began delivering sermons on radio in 1925, on KFUS Radio. 13

New Building

1927 rendering of proposed new campus 15In 1926, the congregation began raising funds for a new building, as they had outgrown the current one. 14 Planning for the new church campus was begun in 1927, with Wythe, Blaine and Olson, architects. 15

The church had planned to begin construction in the summer of 1927, but decided to wait until they had acquired more land. 15

Dawson resigned in the summer of 1928, and Rev. Carlton Lewis Kirk took over. 16 Dawson returned a number of times as a supply pastor.

Ground was broken in 1929. Finally, in March, 1930, the new church building was dedicated. 18 The other buildings on the campus were added later as more money was raised. Construction was done by C. H. Lawrence. The design was largely the same as the 1927 rendering, but now it was just Wythe and Olson, architects.

Kirk was broadcasting sermons on KROW Radio in 1935.

In 1937, Kirk retired to become pastor emeritus, and Rev. Henry E. Burke took over. 19 In 1938, Melrose Baptist was said to be one of the fastest-growing congregations on the West Coast. 20

The church broke ground for a new educational building in 1940. 21

Burke left Melrose in 1943 to become director of evangelism for the San Francisco-Bay Cities Baptist Union, 22 and Rev. Fred I. Drexler took over as interim pastor. 23 Verner I. Olson became the new pastor in October, 1943.

Links and References

1924 ad; drawing of 1907 building

  1. East Bay Hills Community Church website
  2. sermon listing Oakland Tribune December 28, 1974
  3. Melrose Baptist Church in Dedication Services Oakland Tribune June 23, 1907
  4. Don't Want Term for New Pastor Oakland Tribune July 14, 1908
  5. Church Rescinds Former Action Oakland Tribune July 17, 1908
  6. Says Dummies Are On Register Oakland Tribune July 20, 1908
  7. Rev. Tanner to Retain Pulpit Oakland Tribune July 31, 1908
  8. Rev. W. Tanner Quits Pastorate Oakland Tribune February 15, 1909
  9. Tanners Valedictory of Defeat Oakland Tribune February 16, 1909
  10. Rev. Archer Defends Stand Oakland Tribune December 13, 1913 (page 2)
  11. Church Retains Rev. F. M. Archer Oakland Tribune January 2, 1914
  12. Dr. Dawson is Called to Melrose Oakland Tribune January 19, 1924
  13. Melrose Church to Give Radio Program Oakland Tribune September 26, 1925
  14. Will Build Oakland Tribune December 4, 1926
  15. Melrose Baptist Oakland Tribune September 10, 1927
  16. New Pastor at Melrose Oakland Tribune September 1, 1928
  17. Husted's 1903 Oakland directory
  18. Baptist Home to Be Dedicated Sunday Oakland Tribune March 15, 1930
  19. Rev. Burke to Offer Second Sabbath Rites Oakland Tribune April 3, 1937
  20. Church Shows Growth Oakland Tribune July 9, 1938
  21. Baptists of Melrose Break Ground For New Educational Building Tomorrow Oakland Tribune November 9, 1940
  22. Baptist Leader at Brookside Church Oakland Tribune June 12, 1943
  23. Rev. Drexler at Melrose Baptist Oakland Tribune July 3, 1943
  24. Rare East Oakland housing starts construction in historic church San Francisco Business Times August 31, 2017

  25. Oakland Heritage Alliance announces annual awards by Annalee Allen Oakland Tribune December 10, 2000