The Delger Block was constructed in 1881 and housed the pioneering apothecary company, Bowman Drug Co. Mr Bowman had operated in the State since 1852 and by 1886 his store was known as one of the finest in Oakland. The other spaces were filled with cigar stores, a millinery, and law offices. There was also a saloon on the basement level known as The Montana and was a popular hangout in the late 1800s.
Backstory and Context
Originally constructed as a block of wooden building, the original Delger Block was destroyed in a huge fire in 1865. The block was rebuilt and redesigned by architects Kenitzer and Raun in 1881 under the instruction of pioneer and multi-millionare, Frederick William Delger.
Delger was born in the old Kingdom of Saxony, in modern-day Germany, in 1822 and emigrated to New York at the age of 25. He married a woman named Ernestina Blücher in New York in 1848. They had their first child, Matilda, and set out for California by way of Cape Horn in 1852, and arriving in San Francisco in January 1853.
Delger was truly a self made man. He was a boot maker by trade, having served three years as an apprentice of a German cobbler and shoemaker. He found similar work on his arrival in California, before opening up his ownl shoe store in 1855, before later expanding to Sacramento. He made the large part of his fortune through real estate speculation, ultimately buying many pieces of real estate in San Francisco.
In 1860 he purchased 10 acres of land in what would become downtown Oakland. Some sources say that Delger was Oakland's first millionaire. He was one of the founders of the Mountain View Cemetery in 1863. He has a Gothic mausoleum, complete with spire and stained glass window in the cemetery. He died six on April 25, 1898 at the age of 76.
Delger Block. Old Oakland. Accessed June 17, 2017. http://www.old-oakland.com/index.php?q=delger-block.