HISTORY

Maybe Patrick Jeremiah Keller's Rose Park was the inspiration for Rose Avenue and today's Rose Garden?

Oakland Tribune - Sat - Dec. 19, 1891:

 

He began the business of nurseryman and florist, on the hill near the entrance to Mountain View Cemetery. About two years since be removed to his present location, a beautiful plot of about twelve acres, situated on the east side of Piedmont avenue, and north of Moss avenue.


This lovely spot is known as "Keller's Rose Park," taking its name from the fact that the wide awake owner has seven acres devoted to the culture of roses, of which he has 150 distinct varieties catalogued-all these being of the most superior grades, in
fact he will not recommend any inferior grade of roses to his customers. At Keller's Rose Park roses bloom every day in the year. The location of the park is such that it enjoys the semi-tropical climate of the warm belt, is shaded from the winds by adjacent rising ground, and the natural soil is rich, fertile and perfectly adapted to the purposes of floriculture.

 

However Mr. Keller's rose park is the home of many beautiful members of the floral kingdom besides the rose. The delicate camelia is found there in its most perfect form, and the modest violet haunts the borders of the flower beds. Palms and potted plants of innumerable variety are carefully cultured, and Mr. Keller has demonstrated that smilax will grow and thrive in the open air at Piedmont, for he has a quarter of an acre of this beautiful climbing plant growing in the open air.
 

From Rose Park is supplied Mr. Keller's Oakland establishment at 510 and 512 Seventh street with plants, cut flowers, seeds, etc., and all kinds of first class floral work is executed at both places. 

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Map of Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda.

William J. Dingee Agent . . . 1878

Oakland Tribune - Tue - June 13, 1911

CITIES TO JOIN IN PARK OWNERSHIP
Oakland and Piedmont to Control Land Lying On Boundary Line.


Due to the efforts of Councilman Oliver Ellsworth, Piedmont will unite with Oakland in obtaining a park at Broadway and the boundary line of the two cities.
 

This park, for which the Oakland residents of the district have promised to contribute $8000, was petitioned for by the people of this territory.


The city promised to pay a portion of costs, if the residents would do their part. The best entrance to the park would be partially through territory in Piedmont, and as a result of explanations of the situation made by Councilman Ellsworth as to this the City Council of Piedmont passed resolutions to join with Oakland in the matter.  Copies of the resolutions were forwarded to the City Council of Oakland and were read at last night's meeting. The resolutions follow

 

"Whereas, the City of Oakland has declared its intention of acquiring for park purposes that portion of the property known as the Stanford Tract, No. 2, bounded on the east by Pleasant Valley Tract and Olive avenue, part of which is situated in the city of Piedmont, and bounded on the northwest by Linda Vista Terrace, and on the southeast by Stanford tract, with an area of about eight acres, plus; and

 

"Whereas, to provide a proper, sufficient and handsome entrance to this tract at the northerly corner, which is situated in the city of Piedmont, it will be necessary for the city of Piedmont to acquire certain lots at the southern corner of Olive avenue and Oakland avenue; therefore "Be it resolved, that as a contribution toward the park property, to be provided for by the city of Oakland, the city of Piedmont hereby undertakes to acquire title to these certain lots at Olive and Oakland avenues, aforesaid, for park purposes." Certified to by F. J. Staiger, city clerk of the city of Piedmont.

1899 Map - Monte Vista.jpg

Map of Oakland and vicinity,

Showing Real Estate & Electric Railways

Dingee, William J...1899

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Oakland Tribune - Sun - May 10, 1964

Before it became a park, it was almost a 4 acre zoo:

Oakland Tribune - Fri - Feb. 21, 1913

ZOOLOGICAL PARK PLANNED FOR CITY
Linda Vista Tract May Soon Be the Home of Animals..


Plans are being made to convert Linda Vista park, which, because of its uneven grades, is not serviceable for ordinary park purposes, into a zoological gardens, by the board of park directors. The plan was suggested by W. S. Gould, one of the park directors, and will be discussed at the next meeting.


The park board yesterday received an offer from the Realty Bonds and Finance Company of an option on 450-foot frontage "adjoining Linda Vista park to increase the area of the park. The park as it now stands contains about four acres. The option was referred to the city council without recommendation.


Offers of a large number of animals of interest to the general public have
been made to the park commissioners and refused because of the fact that there has heretofore been no place to put them. A small zoological display is maintained at Mosswood park. Here the park directors have five deer and an aviary. The officials of Golden Gate park recently offered this city a large number of elk and buffalo, but the offer was not accepted.


F. M. Smith, the "borax king," has of- fered a number of llama to the city. He has a large herd of the South American animals on his estate in East Oakland. Other residents of the city have offered animals. All these offers will be accepted in the event that the directors decide upon Linda Vista park as a zoo-logical garden.

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Oakland Tribune - Wed - Sep. 28, 1932

Oakland Tribune - Fri - Feb. 21, 1913

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Oakland Tribune - Sun - May 1, 1932

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Oakland Tribune - Wed - Jan. 11, 1933

Oakland Tribune - Sun - Jun. 5, 1932

Friends of the Oakland Rose:

The Morcom Rose garden was originally called the Morcom Amphitheater of Roses, reflecting one of the key design elements conceived by Arthur Cobbledick, the Landscape Architect who created the garden plan in the 1930s.   Fortunately Arthur’s son Bruce Cobbledick, a garden activist in Oakland, donated the original garden drawings and his knowledge of the garden to fill out the garden’s history.

Beginning in 1932, as an inspiration of the Businessmen’s Breakfast Club, Oakland’s Morcom Rose Garden has a history of cooperation and partnership.  In response to a culture shaped by The Depression, the garden was designed to highlight the extravagant roses in formal gardens surrounded by a rugged natural setting.  Mayor Frank Morcom planted the first rose in 1933. And for nearly nine decades the Morcom Rose Garden has offered Oakland a stimulating and restful place.

Here is a brief history of this garden’s design and modifications.  A review of the documents available to The Friends reveals a relatively simple evolution of the garden.  Key facts include the following:

  • 1911-1915:  Land identified and acquired by the City of Oakland used as open space.

  • 1932:  Inspiration for the Rose Garden from the Businessmen’s Garden Club, Dr. Charles Vernon Covell (president) and Arthur Cobbledick (club member and Landscape Architect), with color design from James Cobbledick (decorator) and Professor F.H. Meyer of the California School of Arts and Crafts, now California College of the Arts (CCA).

  • 1933:  First rose planted by Mayor Frank Morcom. [incorrect]

  • 1948:  First modifications were made in a re-work by Parks Director William Penn Mott to remove lawn walks in the Florentine oval to streamline maintenance. The 1948 plan for this work has not been located.

  • 1954:  Two walks were added:  the Pioneer Walk along the top of the Florentine oval and the Mothers Walk between the reflecting pool and the Florentine oval.  There were 125 climbing roses installed on the Pioneer Walk along a chain around the top of the overlook — none of these roses appear to remain.  It isn’t clear from the documentation what constituted the Mothers Walk plantings.  Today there are also tree roses along the Mothers Walk.

  • 50’s:  Pride of Oakland roses, a commercial test rose, were planted at the Wedding Terrace by Head gardener George Shiraki. The Pride of Oakland roses line both sided of the lower Cascade as well. 

  • 1995:  A major refurbishment and replanting was undertaken, guided by the East Bay Rose Society and Ed Wilkinson, a part-time parks employee and Rosarian.  This work was accomplished with great respect for the original design.

The essential design of the rose garden has changed very little in its history of nearly 90 years.  What has changed is the City of Oakland’s ability to care for this garden, the aging infrastructure, the roses themselves, and the surrounding natural background.

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Oakland Tribune - Fri - Jan. 27, 1933

"Dr. Charles V Covell, chairman of the garden club committee sponsoring the rose garden, and Homer Bryan, of the park board of directors, planted the first bush." Morcom only made a brief address.

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Oakland Tribune - Sun - May. 28, 1933

Dr. Charles V. Covell, of Piedmont, amateur rose grower and head of the local Rose Growing Association assisted by Arther Cobbledick designer of the Municipal Rose Garden and Henry Meyer, artist.

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Oakland Tribune - Thu - Dec. 31, 1953

(Much later than many people think the park was named in his honor, I also can't find any evidence that Fred Morcom actually planted the first rose in the Rose Garden according to an article during that time. He might have been there that day, but I don't think he planted a rose in the garden.)