A Potter Built Home


I came upon this mark by a house somewhere around 90th Avenue and Thermal Street last year. Gene Anderson, one of the ever-helpful guys behind the Oakland Wiki, sleuthed out the identity of Potter: Arthur W. Potter, who operated the California Mission Realty Co. in Oakland on High Street during the 1920s. In the 1923 directory he was listed as a carpenter living on 41st Avenue; in 1925 he had started the company and lived in Berkeley. By the 1950s he was in business with two of his sons, Irving and Harvey, in Castro Valley as A.W. Potter and Sons.

A 1926 advertisement referred to “Potter Built Homes,” built with “oodles of built-ins, hardwood floors throughout, tile sink and bath, the latest in home construction.” Buyers could pick their own paint, wallpaper and electrical fixtures while their house was being built. This custom sidewalk stamp is another sign of the pride and care Potter must have taken at the time, during Oakland’s wave of expansion after World War I.

This is the only such mark I’ve found in Oakland, and I’m not sure it still exists. Nor do I know if others survive in San Leandro or points south. Red concrete was in vogue during the 1920s and 1930s.

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