The six-story Madison-Lake Apartments that opened in 1928, was part of Oakland's boom in urban living. Noted for its spacious, hotel-style accommodations, the new “apartment-style hotel” was located close to downtown offices and made it easy to enjoy, civic activities and nightlife.
The Pinnacle of Lakeside Living
Known to Oaklanders as The Lake Merritt Hotel, it was considered the pinnacle of “urban lakeside living” and was designed by prolific architect William Weeks. Described as “chic,” with the first coffee shop in the area and pharmacy on the premises, the hotel was the epitome of comfort and convenience in elegant surroundings. Each residence featured up-to-the minute décor, and color-coordinated interiors. The kitchens were finished in the latest color palate: bright splashes of “green, canary, and blue trim,” each complete with a new Frigidaire, a very big plus at the time!
The Terrace Room is the City's Hot Spot
As its success continued, in 1934, luxurious hotel dining was added to The Lake Merritt Hotel. Known as the Cascade Terrace in the early days, the restaurant and night club came to prominence when what was once an outdoor terrace was enclosed. Diners comfortably enjoyed overlooking the lake with a spectacular view. The Terrace Room soon became the City’s hot night spot, complete with an in-house band. Attracting big name stars and dance orchestras, Oakland music fans could listen to a live radio program that was broadcast each evening from The Cascade Terrace by the Tribune radio station, KLX. The restaurant’s beautiful dining room also hosted innumerable weddings, post-WWII dances and the Lake Merritt Breakfast Club’s first meetings. Acclaimed artist Andre Boratko painted a stunning interior mural depicting scenes of Lake Merritt in 1956. The original art work added elegance to the setting. It is on view today on in the Terrace Room bar on the restaurant’s south wall. The floor-to-ceiling views overlooking Lake Merritt remain to captivate lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch patrons. Today, the Terrace Room's menu is a celebration of contemporary California cuisine and continues to win patrons and recognition.
Vintage postcard from around 1927
Bartenders are waiting
Entrance to the Cascade Terrace
The garage with wonderful old cars
Diningroom ready for guests
Saved from the Wrecking Ball
In the go-go ‘80s The Lake Merritt Hotel was slated for demolition to make way for a lakeside high-rise condo project. The building was saved through efforts of Oakland’s preservation community and in 1987 Randall Berger saved the property by purchasing it. Following a series of million-dollar renovations in 1990 and 2000, the Hotel’s famed Art Deco details and grand style were brought back with both authenticity and 21st Century comforts. In 1992, the City of Oakland conferred landmark status on the building. Under the Berger’s management and dedication to service, The Lake Merritt Hotel earned acclaim as one of Oakland’s top boutique-style, business-class hotels and later as an extended stay hotel for Oakland's executive workforce.
Today, Home to Older Adults with an Independent, Active Lifestyle
During 2005-2007 the hotel received a nearly four million dollar transformation to fill the need of older adults seeking a distinctive residence, community spirit and independent living. With its unique and spacious residential suites, many with views of Lake Merritt or the City, The Lake Merritt has won many hearts. It offers an array of quality programs and services designed to support older adults who are seeking an independent and active lifestyle.
Its unique Terrace Room restaurant, with its spectacular view of the lake, continues to provide dining for the public and for the residents. Noted for its architectural heritage, wonderful location and superb services, The Lake Merritt sparkles as one of the Bay Area’s most distinctive senior residences.
Lake Merritt's $198 Million Dollar Makeover
In 2002, Oakland voters passed Measure DD, a 198-million dollar bond measure to restore and enhance Lake Merritt and its estuary. By 2013, Lake Merritt’s “dazzling makeover” was complete, garnering rave reviews. The Lake Merritt’s current residents benefit from the walking and biking trails, boating, gardening, bird watching and many of the other unique opportunities its location offers.
National and International Acclaim for Oakland's Livability
The City continues to gain recognition for its vitality and as a place that celebrates the West Coast’s healthy, forward-looking lifestyle. Oakland’s livability and walkability rankings continue to soar. Recently, Oakland was ranked “Number One” in a survey of America’s most exciting places to live by Movoto, which provides leading real estate industry analysis. The New York Times ranked Oakland number five as an international destination in it's annual spotlight of “The 45 Places to Go.”