Public interest in the matter of band concerts for Lake Merritt first manifested in 1908. Oscar Prager, landscape architect, of San Francisco, had been retained by Mayor Mott to submit a preliminary report outlining park improvement programs. His survey made the following reference:
“The cove is the most appropriate place for a music court. The background to the bandstand furnishes the restful green of live oaks. The music court, a large level court enclosed by balustrade, has a seating capacity for 2,300 people. A promenade three hundred feet long leads to the boat landing.”
Prager’s wooden bandstand was installed in 1911. Paul Steindorff organized the Band and led the first concerts in 1912.
The practice of regular concerts at the Edoff bandstand was inaugurated in 1920, with Sunday concerts running from April to October. There was a time when the concerts were broadcast on the radio.
The conductors have been:
Paul Steindorff 1912 – 1927
Herman Trutner 1927 – 1961
Fred Rose 1961 – 1987
Dwight Hall 1988 – 2004
Robert Farrington 2005 – 2007
Wesley Broadnax 2008 – 2009
Troy Davis 2010 – 2017 (Director Emeritus)
Edoff Memorial Bandstand Lakeside Park
On a trip to Europe in 1914, Paul Steindorff was inspired by a structure in Milan, Italy and its replica was constructed as we see it in 1918-19, and completed for the 1920 season. It was designed by Walter Reed and William Corlett. The construction was started by a two thousand dollar contribution by friends of the late James P. Edoff, former president of the Board of Park Commissioners. The cost of the bandstand was $55,000. The design included bringing stonecutters from Europe to complete the marble and limestone work.
Electrical lighting was installed in 1967.
The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake damaged the bandstand structure and it was closed off during the renovation by Carey & Company. The project was completed with $1.5 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds and Measure I- Life Enrichment Facilities bond funding and reopened June 27, 1999. During the ten years on renovation the Band played on outside the structure.
In the Resolution for the City Landmarking of Lake Merritt in 1979, the Edoff Memorial Bandstand is specifically called out as one of five structures that ‘shall be preserved.’