Beach Elementary School
The original Beach School was built in 1913 but declared an earthquake hazard and torn down in 1934. It was replaced in two phases: the main wing in 1936 and the rear classroom wing and auditorium in 1940 (PHS 2007). The new school included 8 classrooms, a kindergarten, offices, a health room and an auditorium.
There had been three previous efforts to replace schools and temporary buildings at schools in Piedmont in the 1920s, but the bond issues lost. After the school board sought and gained funding from the Public Works Administration (PWA), a new bond issue passed in December 1933. Of the over $300,000 available, $111,000 was allocated for the Beach School.
Nevertheless, the school district exhausted these funds at some point and sought further aid from the Works Projects Administration (WPA) later in the decade. The WPA provided an additional $115,000 in relief labor and materials to rebuild the Beach School and the plaque on the school credits the WPA (part of the Federal Works Administration in 1940) not the PWA (Piedmonter 1940).
The design of Beach School is single-story Mission Revival. The main building faces north and a long classroom wing extends southward from the back of the former. The back wing has both inside and outside access to each classroom. The L-shaped building flanks a large playground. It remains in good condition with original elements of the interior intact (note the covered fireplace in the lobby).
The auditorium is at the northeast corner of the school (to the left, facing the school entrance). An interesting note is student participation in the creation of the school auditoriums: “The ceilings of each auditorium have a different theme. At Beach the theme is literature. At Havens it is California history, and at Wildwood it is U.S. history. Fifth and sixth graders painted the panels in a paint-by-number fashion before they were applied to the ceiling…..” (Piedmont Historical Society)
The school was named after the first son of Piedmont to be killed in the First World War. The Mother Goose murals executed by High School art students and the linoleum inlaid floor depicting Noah’s Ark, both in the Kindergarten room, were done when the school was built but are not New Deal projects.
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"Piedmont to vote on bonds", Oakland Tribune, October 19, 1928, p. 9.
"Banish shacks Piedmont plan," Oakland Tribune, December 2, 1933, p. 5.
"Workers plan drive to ban school shacks," Oakland Tribune, December 11, 1933, p. 14.
"New Building at Beach School to be Dedicated," The Piedmonter, October 31, 1940.
THE ATTIC TRUNK 9:4 (Summer, 2007). (Magazine of the Piedmont Historical Society)
Gail Lombardi, Chair of the Piedmont Historical Society (communication of July 20, 2020).
Project originally submitted by Shaina Potts on August 15, 2008.
Additional contributions by Joan Greer.
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