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Strolling Through Historic Downtown Alameda – Part 1

Sometimes, “what’s old” is more interesting than “what’s new.” That’s the case with our great buildings on Park Street.

Prior to 1864, Alameda was home to just a few small farm houses scattered around the peninsula. With improved railroad transportation came hubs of commerce along the train routes, including the Historic Park Street District. By 1905 over 150 ornate commercial buildings lined the downtown streets. But, as time progressed, many of the older buildings were either torn down or converted into something else.

Today, thirty of the historic structures are still standing. Here’s a story about two of them:

1327-1333 Park Street – Old Masonic Temple

The stately structure located at 1327-1331 Park Street is the last monumental Victorian building in the downtown district to retain its original form. It was completed in 1891 in a style that is essentially Italianate with Queen Anne and Romanesque Revival elements. The construction contract of $31,250 went to local brickmason James H. Cory. Originally bid to be a three-story structure, plans were altered when construction bids exceeded budget.

The Masons final meeting in the Temple was in 1927, when a new temple was dedicated next door.

What’s there now? The ground-floor spaces are currently leased to various retail businesses: All Good Living, The Local, Supercuts, and Salon One.

1402-1410 Park Street – Alameda Savings Bank Building

The commercial building located at 1402-1410 Park Street is noteworthy not only for its distinguished architecture, but for its historic integrity. The building was completed in 1910 and its exterior has remained mostly unchanged. Built by the Alameda firm of MacRae & Swenson at a cost of $30,000, the building served as income property for the Alameda Savings Bank, which was located next door at the time (the space is now occupied by The Star on Park).

An interesting note… the stuccoed north wall is adjoined by a fragment of the Artesian Waterworks Building, which was demolished in 1955.

What’s there now? The front of the building is recognizable with Toy Safari, The Watch Hospital, and Alameda Ballet Academy. Separate entrances are in the back of the building for additional commercial spaces: Ushakiran Khade, MD; Jazzercise; and MGH Discovered Art.

As you stroll through the the historic downtown district, look for these marvelous old buildings and imagine the bustling streets of another time.

Read more about the historic buildings.

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