A few days ago I visited a unique Oakland spot called Charcoal Park. Probably for the first and last time, as it closes up next week due to financial reasons.
Charcoal Park isn’t really a park. Formerly a carpet store, the space now feels like a cross between a museum and your favorite aunt’s living room. In this vast space, historical displays are interspersed with cozy couches and colorful folk art.
The curator of this unique Fruitvale space, Shirley Everett-Dicko, explained Charcoal Park this way: “It’s a product of my passions: collecting, history and barbecue.” She says she opened it because she thought “it would be a creative way of teaching history to our youth.”
Everett-Dicko first signed a lease here thinking this would be the new home for the original branch of her family’s popular barbecue restaurant Everett and Jones. Financing for the restaurant didn’t materialize but in the meantime she’d moved in hundreds of historical artifacts she’d collected over the last 30 years.
So now it functions as a kind of community center: Friday is movie night for neighborhood kids; at anytime anyone is welcome to stop in with their coffee and hang out on the couches reading one of the books available here.