Realty Syndicate Building, Oakland, California
photo from Our Oakland

The Realty Syndicate Building (aka "Ye Liberty Playhouse") is an office building located at 1420-44 Broadway, built for the Realty Syndicate. Designed by architects William L. Woollett; and D. Franklin Oliver, the builders were Galloway & Markwart; P. J. Walker. The 1910-1911 structure incorporated parts of the 1903-1904 theatre.

Architectural History

The building is a office building, steel frame with brick curtain walls and concrete floors. It is 10 stories, rectangular in plan, on an interior lot. It is in a three part vertical composition with a two story rusticated stone base, a seven story brick clad shaft with terra cotta sills, and a one story polychrome terra cotta capital. A horizontal organization of bays in the pattern 2-1-2-1-2 is carried through the full height of the building. The cornice is copper, and the ornamental references are to Renaissance and Baroque architecture. The upper facade is unaltered. On the ground floor one of two monumental entries has been removed, and all storefronts have been remodeled. The remaining entry leads to a richly decorated barrel vaulted corridor with green marble walls and iron framed showcase windows and a marble walled elevator lobby.

The base incorporates the front of Ye Liberty Playhouse, a two story theater and office building built in 1903-04 that extended behind the present footprint of this building to Franklin Street and was demolished in 1961. The original office occupant and developer was Borax Smith's Realty Syndicate, Oakland's leading real estate, development and transit firm from 1895, headquartered in this building until its demise around 1931. Until 1925 this was the skyscraper on the 1400 block of Broadway. 1

This historic building is #9 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