2036 Webster Street, Oakland

Convent of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, Oakland, California

The Convent of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart was built at 2036 Webster Street, where the Kaiser Building is currently located, in 1868.

This lithographic reproduction of a marvelous etching by M. J. Phelan, an artist born in Ireland in 1945 who was an Oakland resident in the 1880s, illustrates the property and its surrounding environment. Lake Merritt, then called Merritt’s Lake or Lake Peralta, was a wooded tidal lagoon, having been designated the country’s first official wildlife refuge in 1870. A cow pasture borders one side of the convent.

The formal gardens leading up to the front of the boarding school provided the structure with a sense of scale and importance, while smaller gardens and grotto provided residents with spaces for quiet contemplation. Truly of a bygone era, the convent featured a rockery and aquarium, a swimming pond, and a hot house and aviary.

The full list of features noted on the lithograph is quite something:

  1. Boarding School
  2. Sisters’ House
  3. Front Park
  4. Orchard
  5. Rockery and Aquarium
  6. Engine House
  7. Hot House & Aviary
  8. Summer House
  9. Play Ground
  10. Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes
  11. Swimming Pond
  12. Bathing House
  13. Boat House

About Deirdre Spencer

Deirdre Spencer, a graphic designer, is the Web Manager for Holy Names University in Oakland, CA. With substantial freelance and agency experience designing print and web marketing collateral, she has worked with a wide range of clients, including visual effects companies, museums and other non-profit organizations, Bay Area cities and schools, best-selling authors, and Silicon Valley start-ups.
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