1966 1

Albert Edward Norman (August 18, 1893 – March 16, 1966) was in real estate, but is best remembered as a local historian. He wrote the "Naming Our City Streets" column in the Oakland Tribune in the 1960s, was a frequent contributor to The Knave column, and wrote the book, A Steeple Among the Oaks: A Centennial History of the First Methodist Church 1862-1962.

Norman was born August 18, 1893, to Robert Edward Norman and Mabel Howard Hammond (Norman) in West Oakland, the middle of three children. The 1892-1893 directory lists Robert E. Norman as a brakeman for the Southern Pacific, and living at 1762 Seward (now 10th Street). The family lived in Livermore at some point. 6 In the 1910s and 1920s, the family lived at 706 Brockhurst Street (682 before 1912 renumbering.) He writes in A Steeple Among the Oaks that he joined the First Methodist Church on September 1, 1912. 7

According to Who Made Oakland, Albert was educated at the Polytechnic High School at 12th and Market. After graduating, he worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad, the Sunset Lumber Company, and the Oakland Traction Company as a stenographer. 2

The 1913 directory lists him as a salesman for C.L. Decker, builders and real estate. 13 His WWI draft card lists him working as part of McIntier and Norman, Loans and Insurance, with an office at 1706 Broadway in the Thomson Building. After that, he focused on the real estate business. He specialized in the Claremont section, from 40th Street up to the Claremont Hotel, and the Fourth Avenue district, 2,3 though his name is on classified real estate listings from all over Oakland. Beginning in 1924, his office was at 380 - 15th Street. 2

1919 classified 31923 directory ad1924 directory ad

On September 10, 1924, he married Lena Virginia Williams (Norman) at the First Methodist Church. Albert and Lena had two children, Albert E. Norman, Jr. and Phyllis Patricia Norman (Farr). The 1930 census shows them living at 2215 Havenscourt. By the 1940 census, the family had moved to Barbara Road near Oakland High School with Albert's sister, Hazel Norman (Berg). They then bought a house nearby. NB: most of Barbara Road was demolished for the MacArthur Freeway.

1925 21923 4

Norman was president of the Oakland and Alameda County Pioneer Society. In 1952, he helped organize the celebrations for Oakland's centennial. Various celebrations were held in different neighborhoods, and the Pioneers held a banquet at the Moose Lodge (in the Women's City Club Building at 1428 Alice.) 8,9,10,11

L to R: Joseph R. Knowland, Florence Scribner Parsons (b.1859), Albert E. Norman, Sarah Hammond (b.1858), Phyllis Patricia Norman
photo courtesy Albert E. Norman Collection
1952 banquet
photo courtesy Albert E. Norman Collection

In 1954, he helped compile the list of 100+ names to honor in the Pioneer Walk at Morcom Rose Garden. 5

He had a heart attack in 1955, but stayed active both in Oakland history and real estate. 1

For the centennial of First Methodist Church in 1962, Norman wrote A Steeple Among the Oaks: A Centennial History of the First Methodist Church 1862-1962. 7,12

Links and References

  1. Expert on Oakland History Dies at 73 Oakland Tribune March 17, 1966
  2. Who Made Oakland by Florence B. Crocker; Clyde Dalton, publisher, 1925
  3. classified ad Oakland Tribune September 7, 1919
  4. The Famous "O.R.E.B." Glee Club Oakland Tribune January 21, 1923
  5. Garden Memorial to Honor Top Oakland Citizens of Century Oakland Tribune April 1, 1954
  6. Livermore and Coal Oakland Tribune July 11, 1954
  7. A Steeple Among the Oaks: A Centennial History of the First Methodist Church 1862-1962 by Albert E. Norman
  8. Old-Timers To Attend 'Pioneer' Banquet May 13 Oakland Tribune April 13, 1952
  9. Pioneers Change Time, Place For Centennial Banquet Oakland Tribune May 6, 1952
  10. Moose Club To Honor Pioneers Oakland Tribune May 19, 1952
  11. Homage Paid City, Peralta By Pioneers Oakland Tribune May 23, 1952
  12. The Knave Oakland Tribune October 7, 1962
  13. Polk-Husted 1923 Directory