Merchants' Years of Service: A Home and Business Location on College Avenue Since 1886 Houses Kletz and Moll, Attorneys

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Queen Anne Victorian at 5315 College Avenue, shown above, first opened its doors to the Charles Shields family. Charles was a scene painter for Oakland's dramatic theatres, and the Shields family lived there until 1936. Records are not clear about ownership after that, but in the mid-'70s, the building housed an antique shop.

In 1979, attorneys Lawrence Moll and Harvey Kletz moved in. Harvey and Lawrence, both from Pittsburgh, Pensylvania, reconnected while representing individual clients in Marin County. East Bay residents who tired of the commute, they opened an office in 1974 in the storefront at the corner of College and Lawton avenues. About that time, they met a smart young waitress working at The Buttercup Bakery, located on the corner of Alcatraz and College. The waitress used to delight patrons with the latest business and stock market updates and investment ideas as she served coffee and donuts. Harvey and Lawrence provided some free advice of their own, and soon the waitress approached them with a suggestion to purchase the Victorian where they could then practice law and she could develop her hot tub business in buildings at the rear of the property. She ran into some financial difficulty and couldn't follow through, so Harvey and Lawrence purchased the building themselves.

For more than 40 years, they have offered advice on personal injury matters and estate planning, with Harvey also serving as a no-fee "lawyer in the library" - Rockridge Branch - for many years. Meanwhile, the waitress extricated herself from her difficulties and went on to become the financial adviser we know today as Suze Orman.

While you may not be able to get financial advice from Suze, you can stop for the sound opinions of Lawrence or Harvey and their associates in the very comfortable setting of the one-time home on College Avenue.

This is the final installment of the report on businesses on College Avenue for 25 years or more. The Rockridge News thanks the business owners for their time and help with the series.