Oakland is a city located in mid-St. Louis County with an estimated population, as of the 2010 census, of 1,381 residents. The city covers no more than seven miles and is nestled between Webster Groves to its east, Crestwood to its south, Kirkwood to its west and Glendale to its north.
Oakland’s history dates back as early as 1824 when Irish immigrants William Higgins and his son-in-law Bernard Gilhuly purchased most of what makes up current day Oakland. However, these two never actually lived on the property — instead, they leased it out to tenant farmers, who raised a wide variety of crops. Both Higgins and Gilhuly were shopkeepers living in St. Louis City and enjoyed renting out the area until 1832, when the Higgins heir sold the land to plantation owner Thomas Berry in an effort to raise money for travels.
During this time, small communities with residential homes began appearing all throughout Berry’s property, and he continued to lease sections to families hoping to make a better living for themselves. The early 1850s would prove to be difficult for the city of St. Louis as both the Great Fire of 1849 and the cholera epidemic devastated the city. Residents, who were able to, moved their families to the countryside area of present day Oakland for safety concerns. .
Between 1862 and 1910, land between Berry Road and Sappington was owned by successful entrepreneurs such as Hudson Bridge, a New England born-native, who made his fortune manufacturing cast iron stoves. The other was a man named Howard E. Nicholas, who worked in real estate with his wife Nellie, and also competed in many races with the Automobile Club of St. Louis. Both Howard and Nellie bought and sold real estate in the areas of present day Oakland and helped in establishing Oakland’s residential boundaries.
In 1912, the area remained unincorporated by the time the city of Kirkwood was looking to possibly annex all of the land within its region. Howard E. Nicholas helped form the village of Glendale, which included present-day Oakland, in 1914. Not long after, the northern and southern portions of the village of Glendale separated with the village of Oakland, finally forming in 1921. Oakland achieved city status in 1941.
Residents of Oakland are served by the Kirkwood School District.