A Pair of Alameda Streets Recall Writers

Two of Alameda’s streets honor early 20th-century writers. Pictured on the far left is George Sterling. Jack London is seated second from right. This week we’ll look into Sterling Avenue on the East End. The street has an interesting connection to the Pond family and Alameda Hospital. Next week, we’ll meet Jack London, who lived in Alameda when he was a wee lad. Pictured with Sterling and London are writers Mary Austin and Jimmie Hooper.
Arnold Genthe

A Pair of Alameda Streets Recall Writers

Two of Alameda’s streets honor early 20th-century writers. Pictured on the far left is George Sterling. Jack London is seated second from right. This week we’ll look into Sterling Avenue on the East End. The street has an interesting connection to the Pond family and Alameda Hospital. Next week, we’ll meet Jack London, who lived in Alameda when he was a wee lad. Pictured with Sterling and London are writers Mary Austin and Jimmie Hooper.

Photo by Gary Lenhart. In 1901 architect A.W. Pattiani built this home for the Pond family at the gore formed by Alameda and Central avenues. The family was living at this address, 1500 Central Ave., as early as 1890. Pattiani’s creation was torn down in 1970 and replaced with condominiums.
This photograph of Sterling Avenue shows some of homes the Ponds had built and one of the surviving street lights that the city’s Bureau of Electricity installed more than100 years ago.
Photo Credit By: 
Google Earth

In 1916 Dr. Chauncey Penwell Pond and his wife, Josephine Kibby Pond, filed a plat map with Alameda County. They had purchased property on Alameda’s East End. The plat map showed plans for a housing development along a street that the Ponds chose to name “Sterling Avenue.”

The pair set to work converting the old Hawley tract south of Central Avenue and the northern most section of the Briggs tract from fields into a neighborhood of uniform houses along Sterling.

The historian and researcher who identifies himself with the single name Quentin, has researched the origins of most of Alameda County’s street names and states that Josephine named the street.

We learn from Quentin that by the time the Ponds had filed their plat map, landowners in both Oakland and Berkeley had named streets for the writer George Sterling.

It’s possible that Josephine was also honoring Sterling with a street name. Sterling was a colorful character, part of the Bohemian lifestyle that included Joaquin Miller, Jack London and Bret Harte. Chauncey and Josephine’s son Chauncey Jr. likely had the same idea when he later christened a cul-de-sac in San Leandro “Harte Circle” for Bret Harte.

Chauncey Penwell Pond was born in Alameda on June 14, 1885, to Dr. Henry May and Jessie Stella Penwell Pond. Both his parents were California natives. Chauncey’s father was born in Downieville. His mother hailed from St. Helena. Henry and Jessie both graduated from UC Berkeley: Henry in 1876 and Jessie in 1879. Henry received his M.D. from Cal in 1880. He and Jessie married that same year in San Francisco. They moved to Alameda where Henry set up a practice at 1424 Park St.

In 1894, Kate Creedon founded Alameda Sanitarium as a six bed facility at 2116 San Jose Ave. Creedon moved the sanitarium to its present location on Clinton Avenue onto a lot that Henry purchased for her in 1900. The sanitarium’s first building on the new site was known as the Pond Building (the sanitarium’s name was changed to Alameda Hospital in 1939).

Chauncey grew up on Central Avenue with his parents and older siblings, Mary Helen and Henry Searles (known affectionately as “Harry”). In 1901 architect A.W. Pattiani built a home for the family at the gore formed by Alameda and Central avenues (the family was living at this address, 1500 Central Ave., as early as 1890; Pattiani’s creation was torn down in 1970 and replaced with condominiums).

Chauncey followed in his father’s footsteps and became a medical doctor, receiving his M. D. from San Francisco’s Cooper Medical College in 1906. He married Josephine Kibby on Feb. 6, 1907. The couple exchanged their vows at Josephine’s family home on Eagle Avenue. The 1910 census shows the couple living at 1210 Grand St. with their one-year-old daughter, Mary Kay. The census lists Chauncey’s occupation as physician. A son, Chauncey Jr., joined the growing family in 1911. The following year found Chauncey Sr. in Vienna, Austria, studying advanced medicine. Josephine went along for what the Oakland Tribune called “an extended stay.”

By 1916 they were back in Alameda developing the neighborhood along Sterling Avenue.

“It may interest architects to know that the old Sharp tract between High Street and Ferndale (sic) Avenue Alameda was purchased recently by Dr. C.P. Pond, president of the Alameda Chamber,” wrote Western Architecture and Engineer, in 1918. According to this professional journal, “Augustus Lauer the architect of San Francisco’s old city hall,” once owned the tract. Lauer worked with fellow Alameda architect William Patton on that stately building destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and fire.

“Dr. Pond has cut a road through this tract and is putting bungalows for sale on the installment plan,” Western Architecture and Engineer told its readers. The journal does not mention William N. Hawley, who filed a tract map for the property in 1887. Hawley was the scion of a wealthy San Francisco family that made its money in the hardware business. Maps in the late 19th and early 20th century define the property with the name “Hawley.”

Another professional journal, Domestic Engineering informed its readers that “C. P. Pond of Alameda is planning to build low-priced workmen’s cottages He plans to build 20 one-story frame dwellings costing about $2,000 each on Sterling Avenue (in) Alameda.

Building and Engineering News told its readers that C.P. Pond, 1518 Encinal Ave., in Alameda is planning the construction of twenty one-story frame dwellings on Sterling Avenue in Alameda. Each will cost about $2,000. Construction will be carried on by day under the Supervision of Dr. Pond.

They finished their Sterling Avenue project in 1917, and in 2017 the neighbors who live along Sterling will celebrate their street’s 100th birthday. Soon after, they were living, at least part of the time in the Santa Cruz Mountains. That’s where the 1920 census taker found them. He tells us that Chauncey and Josephine were living in the town of Redwood and lists Chauncey’s occupation not as physician, but as fruit farmer.

We know that they also lived in Oakland. In 1922, directories list the family living at 1163 Ashmount Ave., a home that still stands in the Crocker Highlands neighborhood. The 1922 edition of the professional journal Building and Engineering lists Chauncey as a contractor at a home on Sacramento Street in Berkeley.

The 1920 census also lists Chauncey’s parents, Henry and Jessie. They no longer lived in Alameda but had settled on Lincoln Road in Calistoga. His mother, Jessie, died on March 26, 1932. His father, Henry, passed away in Alameda on April 26, 1944. They rest together with Chauncey’s sister Helen in the St. Helena Public Cemetery.

Although the Pond family home no longer stands on Central Avenue, their legacy survives at both Alameda Hospital and along Sterling Avenue.