Strolling through our downtown commercial district and viewing the varied architecture reveals that Downtown Alameda has long been historic, hip, and worth the trip. At the time that the historic Alameda Theater was being built on Central Ave in 1930s, Art Deco was swiftly becoming the preferred style for the new age. Confident, vibrant, and electric, it was different from styles of the past and its new message fit the growing Park Street community.
The next time you stroll the downtown district, see if you can identify the Art Deco details on these and other buildings:
1222 Park Street – Bernardi Building
Built in 1946, this structure is a late example of Moderne Art Deco style architecture and is notable for its stepped pylon, metal signage, and high degree of historic integrity. It is a prime example of how even small structures can contribute significantly to the overall character of a historic district.
The commercial building was built for Bernard Bernardi as a tailor shop and clothes cleaners. Bernardi learned his trade while working in the family business originally established directly across the street in the 1920s.
What’s there now? The building has remained in its original splendor throughout its later owners that include a tropical fish store and now a restaurant. The Original Red Onion opened its Alameda location in 2012.
2320 Central Avenue – Alameda Dairy Company
The first business at this location was a retail outlet for the milk and ice cream of the Alameda Dairy Company — their main store and processing plant was located on Webster Street.
Built in an Art Deco style in 1931, the building had a black tile facade flanked by stepped pilasters and Mayanesque transoms. During subsequent remodeling, the tilework was trowelled over with stucco. When the building was improved in 1995, the stucco was removed and the broken glass in the transom was repaired.
What’s there now? Pappo is a New American bistro serving a fresh seasonal menu produced sustainably and from locally purchased ingredients.
1419 Park Street – Longs Drugstore
In 1936, a large building was constructed at 1419 Park Street and a few other Deco buildings were built on the block as well. Longs Drugstore moved into the large commercial space sometime within the first decade it was built.
Sometime in the 1970s, a facade “makeover” covered the Art Deco details. In 1999, new owners Frank and Debbie George began re-adding art deco architectural details with completion being done in 2011. A new black and red Art Deco building sign was added, accent tiles were added to the storefront, and striped black and maroon awnings were selected to echo the original Longs awning.
An interesting note: A one-story wooden building attached to the rear of the building appears to date from the 1900’s when a bowling alley was located at this site.
What’s there now? Park Street Plaza is a collection of local shops including Lanvie Apparel, Joona Fabriculture, Merle Norman Cosmetics, Bonne Vie (fine wine, beer, and cigars), Dandelion Flowers & Gifts, and Tutu School Alameda.
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 2 of our history series: https://downtownalameda.com/news/historic-downtown-alameda-part-2/