Archive for the ‘ Undated examples’ Category

J. A. Marshall

2 January 2021

Lee Avenue at Perkins Street

This pristine mark, one of two at this locality, is officially the best J. A. Marshall impression in all of Oakland.

Mr. Marshall may be the contractor whose relative, architect Leola Hall, accompanied him and learned the foundations of her trade. However, he may instead be John A. Marshall, listed as a “cementwkr” in the Berkeley directory in 1905.

G. G. C. Co.

7 October 2016


The peculiar round mark of the Golden Gate Construction Co. is so rare that I had to document this example, one of two at 5519 and 5527 Market Street. The company was in existence in the first decade of the 20th century. Another one is next to Lois the Pie Queen.

The Lyon building and other delights

12 February 2016

As you walk up Broadway past the old Saw Mill building, you might notice two bronze letters in the sidewalk spelling out the word “NO.” That’s because you’re looking at it backward. Things make sense at the building’s main entrance, where a large stone/concrete lion with a dozen layers of paint looms over the door and the word “LYON” is spelled out in metal.


With that in mind, you can set out downhill from the doorway and see the letters rightly as the second half of LYON.


Or go uphill instead to see their counterpart. I have to assume that both of these once had four letters.


The building began in 1916 as Lyon Moving & Storage. It was quite grand, in the old Oakland style. Today, there are 53,000 storage companies in America, most of them quite bland and not a single one, I’m sure, with its name on the sidewalk in bronze.

In other developments, I spotted two more treasures during the week.

Blake & Bilger Company


38th Avenue at Opal Street

This is probably the best-preserved Blake & Bilger mark in the city. The firm was a major builder of Oakland’s first sidewalks, from the first decade of the 20th century, but today there are maybe a dozen of these marks left.

1926 – J. H. Fitzmaurice (II)


1501 Harrison Street

Fitzmaurice, founded in 1922 and still going strong as a general contractor, was the first sidewalk maker in Oakland to use the barrel-shaped stamp format, which it introduced in 1926 and used into the 1950s at least. Only a handful of this stamp’s first configuration — with “OAKLAND” placed above the center — have stamped dates inside the mark. So I had to capture this one even though I have another example from the Grand Lake neighborhood.

Bill Katsaros

11 July 2015


34 Montwood Way

There are several of these in the south-side gutters of Malcolm Avenue, all without the last year of the date. This is on a sidewalk, though.

M. B. Wiggins

18 December 2014


2709 60th Avenue

I have dated examples of M. B. Wiggins’ marks, but there are several on this block in which the space where he wrote the date instead had the letters “OAK.” I didn’t see a date nearby, so I can’t say where these fit in his chronology.

Lee Railsback

29 October 2014


2116 Havenscourt Boulevard

My first example from Lee Railsback was rather poor, so it’s a pleasure to feature this excellent one from a lovely part of East Oakland.

Lee Railsback

10 April 2014


3695 Virden Avenue

Not too many Hayward contractors made it up this far.