Progress at Buena Vista and Park

I shudder and shake my head in disbelief every time I drive by Buena Vista Avenue and Park Street and see the empty building on the intersection’s northeast corner. I remember the sudden rush to tear down the abandoned Queen Anne-style cottage that once stood at 2413 Buena Vista Ave. In its place stands a brand-new vacant building.

I remember the city looked the other way (at the beginning of its so-called Preservation Season) and allowed the Hoi Liang Phau Trust to demolish the cottage a little more than three years ago. 

The city looked down its nose at the deteriorating house. “It does not embody distinguishing characteristics of an architectural specimen,” the city said. The home is “not associated with any historic persons or events.” Yes just ordinary, working stiffs lived in an ordinary little cottage. So tear it down to make room for a little parking lot next to that now-abandoned brand-new building.  

The ordinary stiffs included: oyster dealer J. R. Heglund and his wife Ida. J.L. Etward built the cottage in 1890 for the Heglunds. Alameda Museum curator George Gunn said that the cottage is the only known example of Etward’s work in Alameda. 
By 1920, John and Lottie McMullin were living there with their five children. John worked first as a cement worker and later in the shipyards with two of his sons. John and Lottie’s youngest daughter, Helen, lived in the home until 2007. Mike Kearse from Eureka e-mailed the city with his recollections about the home.

Mike’s father was New York Yankee ballplayer Eddie P. “Truck” Kearse. Mike says the McMullin home once echoed with the voices of Oakland Oaks baseball players. These voices included New York Yankee and (and Mets) manager Casey Stengel and New York Giants centerfielder Vince DiMaggio. Wait! The Oakland Oaks? Vince Dimaggio? Joe’s brother? Marilyn Monroe’s brother-in-law? Casey Stengel? 

“The home was not associated with any historic persons,” the city said. OK, then. Just tear it down so we can put up a newer, more modern vacant building. Now that’s progress. 

Dennis Evanosky is the publisher of the Alameda Sun and the author of Alameda: An Architectural Treasure Chest.