Community Organizations Come Together to Preserve Black Oakland Landmark

Liberty Hall has a significant history of service in the Oakland community and has been used by African-American organizations for more than 100 years.

Built in 1877 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989, the 6,500 sq. ft. center holds many distinctions, including being the first dollar store in West Oakland.

The three nonprofits–Healthy Communities, Overcomers With Hope, and Bay Area Black Nurses Association–will call Liberty Hall their new home and hope to keep the legacy of service and communal collaboration alive in the African-American community of West Oakland and the city as a whole.

The Marcus Garvey-led United Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), an African-American fraternal organization promoting financial empowerment for African-American people worldwide, purchased the building as its Oakland headquarters in 1925. The building was renamed Liberty Hall, the name used by all of the organization’s meeting halls. The UNIA utilized Liberty Hall for meetings, activities and holidays such as Lincoln’s Birthday and Garvey Day. In 1931, a fire damaged the building’s roof, and the UNIA’s activism in Oakland declined afterward. The UNIA sold the building in 1933.

After the UNIA left the building, one of Oakland’s chapters of the International Peace Mission took over the building. Led by African-American minister Father Divine of New York, the International Peace Mission expanded Garvey’s legacy of promoting private enterprise for Blacks by exampling peaceful interracial relations. The church was also well-known for hosting free banquets at Liberty Hall during the Great Depression. The Peace Mission continued to operate in the building until the 1950s.

Bay Property Group, a full service real estate company in the Bay Area, represented the buyers of the national historic landmark Liberty Hall in West Oakland. Bay Property Group in collaboration with Nor-Cal Financial Development Corporation, Alameda County Health Care Services Agency, and a local private investor created the financial structure that enabled three community-based nonprofits to purchase this historic landmark.  Financing was provided by Rick Culp of Pacific Private Money Loans.

The organizations represented in the transaction by Bay Property Group that will call Liberty Hall their new home include:

– Healthy Communities (also known as Healthy Oakland), a faith-based health services provider in West Oakland serving a cross-section of the community and their health needs.

– Overcomers With Hope (OWH Studios), a faith-based media training center that provides technical training to the community’s youth via access to their broadcast quality television studio.

– Bay Area Black Nurses Association (BABNA), a professional organization of nurses and nursing students working to improve the quality of life by providing health education, training and mentoring to the African-American community and other ethnic groups.

“Oakland is an amazing city rich in community, culture and history,” said Kevin Skipper of Bay Property Group, who represented the buyers in the transaction. “Working in this truly collaborative community effort has been an enriching and humbling experience. There is hope for Oakland because this process can be replicated.”