The building that today houses the Lake Chalet Seafood Bar & Grill is located on the shore of Lake Merritt which was originally a tidal estuary formed by several creeks. The Lake gets its name from former Oakland Mayor Samuel Merritt who oversaw the damming and clean-up of the estuary in 1868. Funding the project with his own money, Merritt laid the groundwork for the urban sanctuary know today as Lake Merritt.
The Lake was further transformed into a recreational park around the turn of the 20th century when roads and paths were built. In 1925, the Lake got its famed Necklace of Lights.
The core structure that has become the Lake Chalet was constructed in 1909 as a high-pressure salt water pumping station for the Oakland Fire Department. John Galen Howard designed the original concrete building.