White House at Cole and Oak

Unfinished History

by Chris Carlsson


The White House at 404-410 Cole, as it was called in 1980 by the squatters in it, at corner of Oak Street, across from the Panhandle.

Photo: Dave Glass

A remnant of the hard left of the earlier 1970s, the White Panthers lived one block north of my apartment on Cole, near the Panhandle. They had their own small 3-story Victorian on the west side of the block at 439 Cole, but were the main force occupying the White House, a large abandoned apartment building at the corner of Cole and Oak. They resuscitated a food conspiracy in their basement which I joined until the day they handed me a pamphlet “On Organization” by Joseph Stalin! After that, I lost interest in their hippie militancy.

In 1982 the White Panthers collected enough signatures to recall Mayor Feinstein over her support for gun control. When she defeated the recall with 82% her political career was made, and she went on to become Senator where she has served three terms, unswervingly supporting the military-industrial complex, big agriculture, and the banking industry.