The Pinole Historical Society promotes awareness and appreciation of history through preservation and education, and chronicles the city’s heritage for current and future generations.


PHS history essay contest
rewards participants, uncovers
new historical site in the city

The Pinole Historical Society presented awards in early June to students who participated in its annual Pinole History Essay Contest. Students in all Pinole schools were asked to write essays not exceeding 250 words on this topic: “Describe three of your favorite historical places and/or events in Pinole.”

The society received many excellent essays and was interested to learn that Fosters Freeze is an historical site in Pinole. Children always teach us so much.

Mayor Roy Swearingen (in photos with students in Mrs. Gray’s kindergarten class at Collins) accompanied PHS directors to St. Joseph School, Stewart School, Collins School, and Ellerhorst School, and presented certificates to the students. The best question he was asked came from an eager student in Miss Hoopaugh’s fourth-grade class at Stewart, who asked the mayor, “Are you rich?”

The day we present these awards is always one of the best days of the year for the Pinole Historical Society. We thank the teachers at all of the Pinole schools (certificates were previously given to students at Shannon School, Pinole Middle School, and Pinole Valley High School) for having their students participate, and we thank the students for being so creative and giving us a new perspective on history.

Pinole City Council takes first step
in establishing a city museum

Pinole has a very interesting history. Interesting characters have lived here. Interesting things happened here — and continue to happen here.

Nevertheless, there are generations of Pinole residents who know nothing about their city’s history, in large part because there’s no place for them to go to learn about it.

The Pinole Historical Society has done its best to fill this void by publishing books, conducting walking tours and interviews, and sponsoring events.

We have a website, a Facebook page, and we publish two newsletters — one a quarterly printed newsletter focusing on the city’s history and the other a monthly electronic newsletter focusing on history events in the city and area.

Local history isn’t part of our schools’ curricula, so the PHS tries to introduce our young people (and not-so-young people) to our city’s heritage via books, tours, lectures, and community TV broadcasts.

But, the city lacks a museum people can visit to see our city’s history on display.

The society’s mission is to promote awareness and appreciation of history through preservation and education, and chronicle the city’s heritage for current and future generations. This is what a museum can do.

On March 1, 2016, the Pinole City Council agreed to have the Faria House appraised for possibly buying it and establishing a city museum in the building. The Faria House was moved to its downtown location at 2100 San Pablo Avenue in 2005 from the site now occupied by the Kaiser Permanente Medical Office Building.

At that time, it was a Redevelopment project, and the then-city council planned that it would become a museum to house and display the many artifacts that document our history.

But the state, in dissolving and taking over all Redevelopment assets, now controls it and other such properties. If the city, or anyone else, wants to buy it at market value, the state will get most of the proceeds. Thus the appraisal, a necessary first step.

Do we need a community museum?

Did we need a library when we forked up the money to build it?

What about the new Pinole Skate Park for those who enjoy that activity?

Our Community Playhouse is undergoing an interior rebuilding to better serve its audiences.

The Senior Center opened in 1990 to meet senior citizens’ activity needs, and is undergoing a quarter-million-dollar re-roofing project.

The money spent on these projects demonstrates how the city addresses the lifestyles and interests of all people who live in Pinole.

The society’s goals are shared by many citizens, and the Pinole City Council desires and intends to satisfy another segment of the local population by preserving and protecting our city's heritage.

While it’s still early in the process, the council’s action is the first step in what the PHS hopes will result in a community museum to house the many artifacts that document our wonderful city’s history.

‘Pinole Through Time’ on sale
via mail order PHS meetings

The latest book by the acclaimed new America Through Time series published by Fonthill Media, Pinole Through Time contains 192 old and new comparative photographs showing how Pinole changed through the 19th and 20th centuries and into the 21st century.

There are detailed and extensive captions packed with historical information accompanying each photograph.

We will resume selling Pinole Through Time and all of our other history books about Contra Costa County cities at the Pinole Farmers’ Market in April (we are taking the first quarter off).

Until then, CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR BOOK(S) and we will mail them to you. We now accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover charge cards

2016 PHS programs at
Kaiser Permanente

Friday, September 9: Beverly Lane, former mayor of Danville and curator of the Museum of the San Ramon Valley, will speak about the history of the San Ramon Valley, which has many parallels to the history of West Contra Costa County. Beverly is the author of the recently published book, “San Ramon Chrinocles: Stories of Bygone Days.” The public is invited to this FREE event. Refreshments will be served.
Friday, November 4: Program to be announced.

PHS programs on the City of Pinole website

These Pinole Historical Society programs may now be viewed on your computer via the city’s website. To watch these programs on your computer, go to the City of Pinole’s website. Scroll down to PINOLE HISTORY. You’ll find these and other programs about Pinole’s history.

They include:
• 2012 Veterans Day Memorial/Flag Retirement
• 2013 Veterans Day Memorial/Flag Retirement
• 2014 Veterans Day Memorial/Flag Retirement
• Japanese American Internment (2012)
• Old School bell dedication (2013)
• February 7, 2014, program: ‘Bars, Barbers and Characters of Early Pinole.’
• November 7, 2014, program: ‘Maritime Contra Costa County.’

Pinole featured on KGO radio

KGO radio reporter Jennifer Jones Lee interviewed PHS Vice President Jeff Rubin to discover the origin of the word “Pinole.” Listen to the segment here.

Wells Fargo Bank history mural
dedicated, open to the public

Wells Fargo Bank unveiled its mural of Pinole’s history on July 25, 2013, in a ceremony that featured descendants of prominent Pinole residents in the mural in a video, talking about their families and their contributions to the city’s history.

Mike and Michele LeFebvre, son and daughter of Lawrence “Big Red” LeFebvre, manager of the Pinole Merchants baseball team, and Susan Fernandez, great-granddaughter of Bernardo Fernandez, one of the founders of Pinole, were featured in the video produced by the bank’s communications department. All three attended the event.

The 12-foot by 4-foot mural was installed on the back wall of the bank at 1374 Fitzgerald Drive.

Pinole Historical Society President Marcia Kalapus and Vice President Jeff Rubin, along with Councilman Roy Swearingen, Chamber of Commerce President Dina Rosales, and Wells Fargo Bank Regional President Micky Randhawa, made brief remarks before the nearly six-minute video was shown to attendees.

Click here to view the Pinole Mural video on your computer.

The video is also being shown on Pinole Community TV, channel 28.

The mural includes images of a map of the El Rancho Pinole land grant, the Martinez Adobe, downtown Pinole in the 1920s, Lawrence “Big Red” LeFebvre, who managed the Pinole Merchants baseball team, the Pinole-Hercules School (the Old School), the Pinole Fire Department (and Chief Wallace “Pepper” Martin) in the early 1950s, the 1904 class of the Plaza School (featuring teacher Frances Ellerhorst), the original Santa Fe depot, Hercules Powder Works employees, Bernardo Fernandez, and the seal of the city of Pinole.

Wells Fargo Bank welcomes visitors to its Pinole branch to view the mural, which is accompanied by a legend that explains the history of each image.

This mural is one of many in Wells Fargo’s Community Mural Program, which provides a unique visual enhancement to the customer experience in the bank's branches. Designed to be a snapshot of Turn-of-the[Last]-Century America, historic images are chosen that convey a sense of history, tradition, stability, longevity, optimism, and progress.

A typical mural design combines Wells Fargo images and local images that reflect the history and diversity of the community. An accompanying legend describes each historical image used in the mural, and credits the source. The Pinole Historical Society provided Wells Fargo with all of the local photos and images.

In return, Wells Fargo donated $500 to the Pinole Historical Society, for which we are very grateful.

Historical videos on
city’s website

The city of Pinole’s website is featuring several historical videos of interest to Pinole residents, courtesy of Pinole Community TV.

These videos may be enjoyed on your computer from the City of Pinole’s website:
• PCTV Historic Walking Tour series
• Interview with Jack Meehan and Tom Cutino
• George Vincent’s 2010 walking tour of Historic Downtown Pinole
• George Vincent’s 2011 walking tour of Historic Downtown Pinole
• Interview with Ed LeFebvre
• Interview with Charlotte Shea
• Interview with Alex Clark
• Pinole Historical Society Book Signing Ceremony
• 2011 Veterans Day Memorial and Flag Retirement Ceremony
• 2010 Veterans Day Memorial and Flag Retirement Ceremony
• 2009 Veterans Day Memorial and Flag Retirement Ceremony
• 2008 Veterans Day Memorial and Flag Retirement Ceremony
• Growing up Pinole

Clyde Maskal made a 13-minute slideshow of the 2012 Veterans Day Memorial and Flag Retirement Ceremony from many of the photos he took at the event.
Click here to view Clyde’s slide show.

Historic Walking
Tour on
Google Maps

The PHS thanks supporter Tom Parsons, who was kind enough to make Google Map of the Pinole Historic Walking Tour. Check out Tom’s handiwork here.

Public welcome
at monthly PHS
board meetings

The PHS Board of Directors meets on the second Wednesday of every month from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Pinole Senior Center. At these meetings the board discusses policies and procedures, receives reports, and plans events and programs.

The public is welcome at these meetings and may speak on any item on the agenda. There is also a public-comment time at the beginning of each meeting for people to speak on items not on the agenda.

Two library
exhibits celebrate
Pinole’s history

Through the generosity of the Pinole Library, the Pinole Historical society has two exhibits at the library, each giving visitors different information on the history of our city.

Our exhibits include:

Pinole . . . Then and Now features photos from the society’s archives of buildings that existed at the turn of the 20th century, and recent photos of buildings on those sites today.

• The National Preservation Month exhibit features artifacts, photos, and memorabilia from Pinole’s history.

Library hours are Monday (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Wednesday (2 to 8 p.m.), Friday (noon to 5 p.m.), and Saturday (noon to 5 p.m.).

Police department
history page
is on the
city’s website

See the new Pinole Police History page on the city’s website.

You will learn about Wild-West shootouts, cattle drives downtown, 1920s gangsters, World War II sabotage, Fiesta Del Pinole riots, and other historical events you had no idea had occurred!

Learn about Pinole’s first lawmen, like saloon-owning Constable John Collins and rough-and-tumble Arthur McDonald, who was killed during a shootout in 1929. See how the Pinole Police Department grew from one famous, ticket-writing motorcycle cop to a professional, modern police force. Read about the three officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice for this community when they took on violent criminals.

The new Pinole Police History page is full of great, colorful stories and fun pictures! You will feel like you’re walking through time!