OAKLAND HERITAGE ALLIANCE WALKING TOUR LEADERS
Our tour leaders are enthusiastic and dedicated: we invite you to join them to explore our diverse city!
Phil Bellman—F. M. “Borax” Smith Estate
Phil Bellman is a longtime East Oakland resident with interests in history, architecture and historic preservation. He served as an early member of the OHA Board of Directors and edited the OHA News for several years. He has led tours relating to Borax Smith both in Oakland and the Nevada desert for many years. Now retired, Phil worked with Kaiser Permanente in the field of medical education.
Paul Brekke-Miesner— The Bushrod Park Neighborhood's Amazing Sports Legacy
Paul Brekke-Miesner has curated exhibits on Oakland and Eastbay sports history for several venues, including the Oakland Museum of California and the Major League All-Star Game in Oakland in 1987. More recently, he was a panelist at the Baseball Hall of Fame’s Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture in 2009, presenting on the Oakland Athletic League and one of its legendary coaches, George Powles. In 2008, he and other parents at Oakland Tech High School built a beautiful baseball field for the school, now named for Tech alum and Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson. A former sports stringer for the Oakland Tribune and Berkeley Gazette, he authored the book HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE: Oakland – The City That Changed the Face of Sports in 2013.
Ernest Chann — Chinatown Oakland, A Bit of Asia
Ernest Chann is a past President of the Chinese Historical Society of America, and has been a Board member of the Alameda County Historical Society. In addition to leading this tour for OHA, Ernie is also an active docent with Oakland Museum History Division.
Kathleen DiGiovanni— Downtown Brooklyn and Montclair Village - Oakland's Early Hill Town
Kathleen Leles DiGiovanni is a long-time Oakland Heritage Alliance walking tour leader and a regular contributor to the OHA News. A librarian at the Oakland Public Library, Kathleen has logged thousands of hours working in the Oakland History Room, promoting and guiding exploration of Oakland's history through the library's rich resources. She thinks it's the best job in the world. In addition to this year's Fernwood and Glenview tours, Kathleen has also led walking tours for OHA in Lakeside Park, Brooklyn, and Montclair Village and Oakland Women’s History tours.
Dennis Evanosky—Mountain View Cemetery and Dimond District
Dennis Evanosky is the publisher of the Alameda Sun and a free-lance writer with eleven published books, including East Bay Then and Now; San Francisco Then & Now; Lost San Francisco, Oakland’s Laurel District; Alameda’s Architectural Treasure Chest and two books about Mountain View Cemetery.
He is currently the editor of the Alameda County Historical Society’s newsletter. Dennis served the Oakland Heritage Alliance as its newsletter editor for two years. He has received four Partners in Preservation Awards: for a calendar featuring the Oakland Laurel district’s history; for restoring the Civil War section of Mountain View Cemetery; for assisting Bill Caldwell with Oakland: A Photographic Journey; and as a member of the Oakland Heritage Alliance’s walking-tour team. He has teamed with Eric J. Kos to create 12 history calendars featuring both Oakland and Alameda. Eric and Dennis also created the web site www.oaklandhistory.com.
Dennis has been a docent at Mountain View Cemetery and at the Pardee Home Museum for twenty-one years. He leads the City of Oakland’s walking tour of Preservation Park. His walking tours for the Oakland Heritage Alliance include the Laurel District, the Dimond District, Leona Heights, the Oakland Estuary, Oakland’s First Suburb (Preservation Park and the Pardee Home Museum); Oakland’s Redwoods and Mountain View Cemetery’s connection to the Civil War. He also hosts walking tours for the City of Alameda featuring that city’s history.
Dennis was born in Pittston, Pennsylvania and was raised in Maryland. He holds a master’s degree in German from the University of Maryland at taught German for the University of Maryland in Europe for nine years.
Ron Hook— The High Road Along Trestle Glen’s Key System B Line (with Stuart Swiedler)
Ron Hook grew up in Oakland on Rosemount at Verrada and now lives in Hayward. He was a born railfan and became a bus fan 40 years ago: AC Transit and Key history go hand in hand. Most of Ron's spare time is spent cataloging and identifying photos for the Western Railway Museum in the East Bay. He am a retired printer, and current president of the AC Transit retirees club.
Pamela Magnuson-Peddle— Fruitvale - The Second Downtown(with Betty Marvin)
Pamela Magnuson-Peddle loves the stories old buildings tell. She is an active member of the Oakland Heritage Alliance, including six years on the board and one year as President, and leads walking tours of both the Fruitvale and Laurel districts. Her published histories include articles for the Oakland Heritage Alliance Newsletter, MacArthur Metro, and the Alameda County Historical Society newsletter. She has also written two self-guided walking tours of Oakland neighborhoods: Waterfront Warehouse District and Fruitvale on Foot.
Betty Marvin— Fruitvale - The Second Downtown (with Pamela Magnuson-Peddle)
Betty Marvin studies local history and buildings in the Oakland City Planning Department’s Cultural Heritage Survey project.
Woody Minor — Oakland's Airport/North Field
Woodruff "Woody" Minor has written extensively about Bay Area history on topics ranging from aviation and shipping to architecture and urban development. His books include Pacific Gateway: An Illustrated History of the Port of Oakland focusing on the city's proud legacy as a maritime and aviation center. He is currently writing a history of Alameda.
Liam O’Donoghue — Long Lost Oakland
Liam O’Donoghue is the host and producer of East Bay Yesterday (https://eastbayyesterday.com), which was named “The Best Podcast about the East Bay” by the East Bay Express. This independently-produced series explores stories of culture, politics and nature from Oakland, Berkeley and other towns throughout Alameda and Contra Costa counties. Also available on the website: the Long Lost Oakland map: https://eastbayyesterday.com/long-lost-oakland/
Richard Orlando— Weeds in the Urban Landscape at Mills College
Richard has taught weed classes for nearly four decades in the Landscape Horticulture Department at Merritt College, a nationally renowned horticultural department. He has just completed his opus, Weeds in the Urban Landscape: Where They Come From, Why They're Here, and How to Live with Them, available at local bookstores. He has been accused of having never seen a weed he didn't like, and he is willing to acknowledge that this is almost true.
Jon Rusch—Mid-Century Downtown Oakland
Jon is an architectural historian who works in San Francisco at consulting firm ICF, where he contributes to rehabilitation, planning, and environmental compliance projects throughout the Bay Area. Jon frequently serves as lead or contributing author of historical resource studies dealing with mid-20th-century buildings and cultural landscapes. Prior to moving to Oakland, Jon earned an MA in historic preservation planning at Cornell University.
Stuart Swiedler — The High Road Along Trestle Glen’s Key System B Line (with Ron Hook)
Stuart J. Swiedler, is a physician-scientist who has lived in Oakland since 1989. He is author of the web site, The East Bay Hills Project (eastbayhillsproject.org) combines images of the railroad with aerial views to tell the story of the development of Montclair. The East Bay Hills Project was started to leave a photographic record and satisfy the curiosity of those seeking the basis for the changes to the area. His appreciation for the impact the railroad made to the area was derived from numerous bike rides and runs through the hills between Oakland and Mount Diablo with his wife Judy.