AKA: Oakland Unified School District, Clawson School, Clawson, Oakland, CA

Structure Type: built works - public buildings - schools

Designers: Donovan, John J., Architect (firm); John Joseph Donovan Sr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1915

2 stories

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3240 Peralta Street
Clawson, Oakland, CA 94608

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The Clawson Elementary School was listed as standing near the intersection of 32nd Street and Magnolia Street in Polk-Husted's Oakland, California, City Directory, 1918, p. 75.

Building History

The Clawson School #2 opened in 1915, the second of two facilities by this name in the Clawson neighborhood. The Clawson School #1 dated back to the 1880s. This Neo-Classical design had two stories and utilized extensive terra cotta ornamentation. The ornamentation around its front doors was featured in the 10/25/1922 issue of the American Architect. (See F.S. Laurence, "Technique in Clay Products," American Architect, vol. CXXII, no. 2405, 10/25/1922, p. 353.)

The building functioned as a school until the 1970s, when it was closed. Following the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake, that severely damaged a Veteran's Administration Hospital and the recently completed Los Angeles Olive View Medical Center, the State of California passed new building codes for hospitals in 1973, and the Uniform Building Code (UBC) was updated in 1973 and 1976 to meet new seismic standards. Oakland school officials closed three schools in 1973 rather than spend the money needed to retrofit them, including the Clawson School and the Hoover Junior High School.

The school was used by squatters for many years until it was bought by the development company Premises, Incorporated, that saw its potential for housing. After extensive remodeling and structural upgrading, the school reopened as a condominium in 1999.

Building Notes

In 1918, A.S. Colton served as the Principal of the Clawson Elementary School and the Clawson Evening School also held there. (See Oakland, California, City Directory, 1918, p. 75.)


The building's elaborate cornices and balustrades were taken down in the 1950s during a seismic renovation.

Alterations after its renovation in 1998-1999 made the school barely recognizable compared to its original condition. David Baker and Partners designed the Magnolia Row Townhouses (2001-2002) that edged the southern and eastern perimneters of the former Clawson School grounds.

PCAD id: 11384