Strolling through the downtown district reveals that Downtown Alameda is historic and hip. With its grandiose old buildings, its unique businesses, and its vibrant community, the Historic Park Street district is always worth a trip.
Prior to 1864, the Park Street area was home to just a few scattered farm houses. With improved railroad transportation came hubs of commerce. By 1905 over 150 ornate commercial buildings lined the downtown streets. But, as time progressed, many of the older buildings were either replaced or converted into something else.
Today, thirty of the historic structures still stand with a variety of commercial uses. Here’s a story about two of the buildings:
1435-1437 Park Street – Schroeder Building
Believe it or not, this is the oldest building in what is officially designated as the Historic District. It was built in 1873 for Fritz Boehmer who had a grocery and hardware business on the ground floor. The upper floor contained a public meeting hall. In 1876, Fritz sold the building to Adolph Schroeder (co-owner of a local feed and fuel business), who used it as rental property. Between 1882 and 1894, a portion of the ground floor housed Alameda’s first telephone exchange. While significantly altered over the years, the building still retains its original architectural shape.
What’s there now? The ground level corner space is now occupied by Town Tavern — one of the newest businesses in Downtown Alameda. Above, on the second floor, is China House — one of the district’s oldest continuously operating restaurants.
1350-1364 Park Street; 2402-2410 Central Ave – Post Office Block
Originally completed in 1890, the “Post Office Block” was a landmark on Park Street with its prominent Queen Anne architecture and corner tower. William Patton, the designer, was a noted San Francisco architect and Alameda resident. The grandiose commercial building housed Alameda’s main post office from 1890-1900, and then the Commercial National Bank starting in 1922. In 1938, the bank commissioned a major remodel that resulted in the building’s present appearance. With the removal of the corner tower and the addition of stucco walls, it became an excellent example of Streamline Moderne.
What’s there now? The eye-catching building is currently home to a multitude of popular businesses. Sumbody Spa, Tootsies, Poke Koma, Rocket Fizz (the newest business in the block), House of Bagels, and Starbucks fill up the Park Street side while TuttiMelon and Central Florist face Central Ave. Additionally, PloyThai Spa can be accessed from the adjacent parking lot.
As you stroll through the historic downtown district and view these magnificent buildings, imagine the bustling streets of another time.
Read about other historic Downtown Alameda buildings in Part 1 of our history series: https://downtownalameda.com/news/historic-downtown-alameda-part-1/