building was erected in 1883, under the direction of
Hon. J. C. Gilson, who was Superintendent of Schools
at the time, and Hon. Wm. H. Jordan, member of the
Board of Education, and it was due to the influence
of these gentlemen that Mr. Chabot was induced to
build and equip the Observatory, and the school
children of Oakland will always owe them a debt of
|Excerpt form Charles Burckhalter's
article in 1894 Astronomical Society of the Pacific
THE CHABOT OBSERVATORY
A beautiful example of '2nd Empire Baroque' architecture.
|Front entrance on 10th
Street - note that the landscaping has not yet been
||Corner of of 10th Street
(left) and Jefferson Street - the landscaping seems to
|Completed landscaping -
sign probably reads 'keep off the grass."
||Back side of observatory
seen from corner of 11th Street (left) and Grove Street.
The former building consisted essentially of a transit room, reception room and the equatorial room (14 feet in diameter) at the top of the tower, and it was reached by 4 flights of zigzag stairs of 52 steps, the entrance being through a trap-door in the floor -- a most awkward arrangement. Of the old building, the transit room remains as before, the reception room, 11 x 15, is now occupied as an office and library, and the remainder was torn away.
Upon the site of the old tower the new equatorial room, 20 x 20, has been erected, 15 feet lower than the former one, and, while not only larger and more accessible, the reduced elevation has cut out about 200 arc lights scattered for miles around from Berkeley to Alameda. That these lights are a most serious evil from an astronomical point of view, it is only necessary to mention the fact that Professor Barnard, at the Lick Observatory, is compelled to close his window blinds to shut out the electric lights of San Jose, distant 13 mile in a straight line, when engaged upon faint comet work.
On the first floor, in addition to the office and transit room there is a reception room 20 x 20, the lecture room 20x30, vestibule 6 x 10, hat room, battery room, etc., while in the second story, besides the equatorial room there is a bed room, upper hall, and an exceedingly useful little workshop, where alterations and repairs and special apparatus are made.
Excerpt from "THE CHABOT OBSERVATORY", Burckhalter, ASP Journal, 1894 The above photo is dated 1897.
|This photo of the north
side of the building shows the architectural mix of the
original building done in 2nd Empire Baroque with arch
roof and pointed arch windows, and the new construction
to left done in Victorian Italianate style.
Photo courtesy Ben Burress, Chabot Observatory archive.
|Oakland High School on
11th Street can be seen to right of the observatory.
||This older photo, without
the high school building which was
built in 1895, shows both domes open.
The Observatory is situated in the middle of Lafayette Square, which is bounded by Tenth, Eleventh, Grove and Jefferson Streets. The use of the square was donated by the city. Its exact geographical position is Lat. 37 degrees 48 minutes 5 seconds north ; Long. 122 degrees 16 minutes 39.3 seconds west from Greenwich, or in time 8 hours 9 minutes 6.62 seconds west from Greenwich ; 3 hours 0 minutes 54.58 seconds west from Washington [DC], the longitude having been determined telegraphically by Professor George Davidson of the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, and Assistant Burckhalter, in connection with Messrs. Marr and Sinclair, United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, the latter gentlemen exchanging signals from the Davidson Observatory, San Francisco.
Excerpt from "THE CHABOT OBSERVATORY", Burckhalter, ASP Journal, 1894
|Charles Burckhalter at 8" telescope eyepiece, Lafayette Square observatory ~1911|
|Charles Burckhalter viewing through the Alvan Clark 8" telescope. This is a particularly exciting image because it shows the inside of the 8 inch telescope dome in the remodeled Chabot Observatory at Lafayette Square. The date is unknown, but would have to be on or after 1892 when the tower was removed, the equatorial room now on the second floor of the main building. Photo courtesy Ben Burress, Chabot Observatory archive.|
|This is a photograph of
the 5" x 7" glass dry plate negative credited to Eward
Rogers and used to make the photograph above. The
negative is from the Oakland Tribune collection, which
is now part of the Oakland Museum historic
collection. The text (below) on the envelope
containing the glass negative, suggests this photograph
was taken in 1911, as Burckhalter was put in charge of
Chabot Observatory in 1886, the text indicating that he
had been director of the observatory for 25 years.
Envelope reads, "Professor Charles Burckhalter (sic) at work on the telescope of the Chabot observatory, of which he has been in charge of the last twenty-five years, and which may be moved to avoid the strong lights of the city streets." Photo of the Professor looking into a large telescope (only part of shown). He is standing with one foot up resting on something on the floor.
|Charles Burckhalter (Chabot Observatory Director), John Brashear (optician), and Ambrose Swasey (Warner & Swasey) at the front steps of Chabot Observatory, Lafayette Square - likely discussing the construction of the 20" telescope for the yet to be built Leona Heights (Mountain Blvd.) Chabot Observatory. Date uncertain - very possibly 5 January 1889 as it is on record that Brashear visited Chabot on that date. Photo courtesy Ben Burress, Chabot Observatory archive.|
|This view from the corner of Jefferson
Street (left) and 11th street shows that the building
also had a basement, the door leading down can be seen below the window at right.
|Further expansion of Chabot
Observatory in 1900
|In 1900 the Grove Street end of the
building was rebuilt and extended to include a large
dome for the transit telescope was removed, the roof slit now cutting diagonally across the main building roof.
|The building front to rear, from
Jefferson Street to Grove Street, ran roughly northwest.
The equipment of the Observatory is as follows:
An 8 inch equatorial telescope, with micrometer and spectroscope, by Alvan Clark & Sons. The chronograph and the 4 1/8-inch transit [telescope] were made by Fauth & Co., Washington. The mean-time clock, also made by Fauth & Co., has a gravity escapement, with 60-pound pendulum, and break-circuit arrangement. The siderial clock was made by E. Howard & Co. The sidereal break-circuit chronometer was made by the Messrs. Negus of New York.
Correct time is furnished to the city twice daily, the mean-time clock automatically breaking an electrical circuit by which the bells in all the engine houses and the City Hall bell are rung every day at precisely 12 o'clock noon (3 strokes) and 9 P.M. (9 strokes), Pacific Standard time; the first stroke indicating 12 noon and 9 P.M.
Excerpt from "THE CHABOT OBSERVATORY", Burckhalter, ASP Journal, 1894
|Charles Burckhalter's Private
Observatory on Chester Street, Oakland
|This is an amazing(!!)
photo of Charles Burckhalter's private observatory at
his residence at 962 Chester Street, Oakland. The
telescope is a 10 1/2 inch aperture Newtonian on a
massive German equatorial mount, the entire instrument
built by John Brashear and Company. A splendid
case of serendipity; Burkckhalter took delivery of his
instrument on the same day that the 8 inch Alvan Clark
and Sons refractor 'Leah' was delivered to Chabot
Observatory. Note the dress jacket covering the
window or vent immediately behind the telescope. A
most luxurious amateur observatory. Photo courtesy
Ben Burress, Chabot Observatory archive.
The New Telescope for the Chabot Observatory. – The new telescope of 20-inch aperture for the Chabot Observatory is now in actual progress of building.
The disks for the objective have already been ordered and the Warner & Swasey Company are at work on the mounting, which the Company will exhibit at the Panama Pacific Exposition. It is expected that the objective will be furnished before the exposition closes, when the telescope will be taken to Oakland and installed in the new Observatory, which will be built the coming autumn, on a site several miles from the business part of the city, where the present observatory is located.
Published by Goodsell