Lincoln Park Fence Damaged in Crash

Eric J. Kos    Pete Calahen of Williams Welding leans into his drill as he works to repair the 1879 fence lining the High Street side of Lincoln Park (background). A portion of the fence was knocked off its concrete foundation when an alleged drunk driver struck it.

At 11:30 p.m., Wednesday, July 17, an alleged drunk driver was attempting to turn from Santa Clara Avenue onto High Street. He took the turn too widely and crashed into the fence that borders Lincoln Park. He fled from the vehicle, but witnesses pursued him through the park. They called 911 and Alameda Police Department officers arrived and placed the driver under arrest. 

The city contracted Williams Welding to make repairs. The collision damaged not only the fence but the retaining wall and its cast iron covers as well. “Pete Calahen is repairing the fence on-site because it’s so heavy,” owner Kim Williams said. “We’re repairing the covers at our shop.” The damaged portion of the fence weighs some 1,700 pounds. 

Alameda Museum Curator George Gunn writes that architect Charles H. Foster, who later built the Carnegie Library on Santa Clara Avenue with his son, designed the fence in 1879. He employed a pair of Oakland blacksmiths, Leopold Frauneder and William Morck, to fashion his creation. The pair also worked as locksmiths and bell hangers, Gunn says. 

The fence defined the western boundary of Robert R. Thompson’s estate. His palatial home once stood on the property. 

Thompson Avenue — the site of Thompson’s Artesian Water Works — bears his name. He supplied water to the City of Alameda. Like other wealthy residents in Alameda, Thompson opposed any tax levies, including taxes to pay for the city’s fire department. He told everyone who would listen that he had no need for the fire department. Ironically, on Aug. 18, 1884, Thompson stood by and watched his stately mansion burn.

The fence survived and today serves to define the entrance to Lincoln Park.