AKA: Abrahamson’s Dry Goods Store, Downtown, Oakland, CA; Associated Department Stores, Department Store, Downtown, Oakland, CA

Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - office buildings

Designers: Foulkes, Edward T., Architect (firm); King, J.H., Building Contractor (firm); Edward T. Foulkes (architect); J. H. King (building contractor)

Dates: constructed 1892-1893

5 stories, total floor area: 31,800 sq. ft.

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473 13th Street
Downtown, Oakland, CA 94612

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The Abrahamson Building stood on the southeastern corner of the intersection of Washington Street and 13th Street.

Overview

The Abrhamson Building was in operation c. 1907. (See Husted’s Oakland, Alameda and Berkeley Directory, 1907, inside front cover.)

Building History

This building accommodated the Abrahamson Dry Goods Store, owned by Jules and Hugo Abrahamson, that opened in 1893. (See A Bit of History.website, “Then and Now—Downtown Oakland,” published 07/31/2020, accessed 09/15/2020.)

Following the Abrahamson Dry Goods (later Department Store), the 31,800-square-foot space was occupied by the Associated Department Stores. This store did not last too long during the lean years of the Depression.

It yielded the space to the Union Furniture Company, which began operation on 03/03/1934. (See“Union Furniture Company in Shopping Center,” Oakland Tribune, 03/02/1934, p. 14.) The Abrahamsons continued to own the building in 1934.

The Darling Shop, a women's clothing store chain on the West Coast, used the building between 1942 until 1948, at least. (See Darling Shop advertisement, Oakland Tribune, 12/09/1948, p. 12.)

Building Notes

A Dr. J.M. Gilstrap, a dentist, had an office on the top floor of Abrahamson Building in 1907. At this time, Dr. Gilstrap had a feud with another dental practitioner, Dr. Walter J. Nordlunf, who operated the "Gilstrap Dental Parlors," at 954 Broadway. Gilstrap's advertisement of 1907 noted: “Those who desire Dr. Gilstrap to do their Dental Work should look out for the fellow on Broadway, who, in order to secure business, finds it necessary to use as a sign the name “Gilstrap.” (See Husted’s Oakland, Alameda and Berkeley Directory, 1907, inside front cover.)

Alteration

The Abrahamson Building was remodeled extensively in 1934, when it transitioned from an Associated Department Store to the Union Furniture Store. Edward Foulkes was the architect for this renovation that added a new, simplified Art Deco facade to the five-story building. An article in the Oakland Tribune stated: “Modernization of the Abrahamson Building, at the southeast corner of Thirteenth and Washington Streets, within the past year, constituted one of the outstanding achievements in the program of the Downtown Property Owners’ Association, it was disclosed today. The original problem facing the association was one of transforming a hitherto apparently ‘old-time’ structure into one which would rank with the finest of mercantile houses in the United States. That problem was met by ripping out the front of the building, the cornices, the ornaments, which had made it one of the buildings of which Oakland was proud in the Spanish-American War days. In place of these features the architects and builders of the association provided for beautiful American encaustic tiling, for a front spacing. The tiling is green in color with remarkable buff trim. Owners of the building are Jules and Hugo Abrahamson, who have co-operated with the modernization committee of the Downtown Property Owners’ Association. J.H. King supervised the transformation of the building, and E.T. Foulkes was the architect for the structure.” (See “Union Furniture Company in Shopping Center,” Oakland Tribune, 03/02/1934, p. 14B.)

Further front remodeling occurred when the Darling Shop opened for business after the Union Furniture Company left c. 1940.

Demolition

The Abrahamson Building was razed. The Oakland City Center Building at 500 12th Street occupied its site in 2020.

PCAD id: 23576