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.

200+ entries in
annual PHS
essay contest

The Pinole Historical Society received more than 200 entries in its annual history essay contest from students in Pinole schools. This is an extraordinary response considering the disruption that distance learning has caused.

We asked students to write 250-word essays responding to this prompt: “What is the most important lesson you’ve learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, and why?”

Students from Ellerhorst, Collins, Shannon, and Stewart elementary schools, Pinole Valley High School, and St. Joseph School participated.

The PHS will present certificates to all of the participants, and grand prizes to the students who wrote the best essays.

Pinole Historical Society programs
may be viewed on PHS YouTube channel

Looking for a good local history program to watch? Look no further than the Pinole Historical Society ’s s YouTube channel, created by Pinole History Museum board member Alec Jason.

Alec reformatted more than a decade ’s worth of PHS programs and uploaded them to the society ’s s YouTube channel.

To view these videos go to YouTube and enter PINOLE HISTORICAL SOCIETY in the search bar, or CLICK HERE

Among the most recent additions is the very popular Zoom program architect Mike Woldemar did for the society last July. Mike designed many buildings in Pinole during his long career, including the Pinole Youth Center, Del Monte Shopping Center, Pinole Depot Plaza, Crocketts Premier Auto Body and the Contra Costa County Animal Shelter, Pear Street Bistro, and Herit-age Park, including site improvements and the rose garden for the Faria House.

Among the 40-plus videos include:

GEORGE VINCENT’S two walking tours of historic downtown Pinole.
THE PINOLE MURAL: Wells Fargo Bank produced this video about the history of Pinole. The mural hangs on a rear wall in the bank ’s s Pinole office on Fitzgerald Drive.
FIESTA DEL PINOLE 1962, 1963, 1964, and 1965 parades, courtesy of PHS member Jim Payne
AN INTERVIEW WITH TWO MAYORS: Former mayors Jack Meehan and Tom Cutino spin political tales and how they saved Fitzgerald Drive —and the sales-tax dollars its shopping centers produce — for Pinole.
WHAT’S IN A NAME? : How Pinole streets got their names, and the characters behind those names.
THE LOST CITIES OF THE EAST BAY, presented by author, historian, and college professor John Robinson.
THE HISTORY OF 610 QUINAN STREET, presented by Linda Lopes Rosedahl, the third generation of her family to live on Quinan Street.
THE PRESIDENTIAL ROSIES: Former Rosie the Riveters recount their World War II experiences at the Kaiser Shipyards and their 2014 visit to then-Vice President Joe Biden at the White House to get national recognition for the women who worked in the World War II ship-yards and factories.
VETERANS DAY Memorial and Flag Retirement Ceremonies from 2008 to 2019.

We’d be grateful if you give our videos a THUMBS UP! Thank you.

The PHS looks forward to resuming group presentations once it is safe to do so. We miss seeing our members and friends, and miss bringing history to them in person. In the meantime, we are doing our best to fulfill our mission to promote awareness and appreciation of Pinole’s history.

PHS photo archives now online via
our collections management system

Some of the nearly 1,500 photos in the Pinole Historical Society archives are now available for online public viewing and purchase via CatalogIt, our cloud-based Collections Management System.

The PHS hired a consultant to add metadata to the photos in the collection. The photos that have just been made public are the first she has completed. More photos will be added to the online collection soon.

Access to the photos are via CatalogIt HUB

These low-resolution photos are arranged in folders. The photos in the first six folders — Churches, Downer Mansion, Mann Home, Martinez Family, Santa Fe Depot and Trains, and Southern Pacific Depot — are also available for purchase.

The photos have light watermarks in the middle that say Pinole Historical Society. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution photo suitable for framing, the watermarks will be removed. Please email the PHS at

Pinole Historical Society and
Pinole History Museum posting
on Instagram

The Pinole Historical Society and Pinole History Museum are finally active on Instagram, thanks to the our digital technology consultant, Dyana Wing So, a 2012 Pinole Valley High School graduate, and a recent recipient of a master’s degree in Business History and Global Markets from Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands. We invite you to follow us and comment on our posts.

Noted architect Mike Woldemar
chronicled 17 of his Pinole projects
that shaped the look of the city

More than 30 people tuned in July 17, 2020, to the society’s third online program, The Man Who Built Pinole, to listen to architect Mike Woldemar, who designed many of the most well-known buildings in Pinole, including the Pinole Youth Center, the Pear Street Bistro, Heritage Park, the Pinole Office Center, Pinole Depot Plaza, Crocketts Premier Auto Body, the Contra Costa County Animal Shelter, and Del Monte Center, among others.

If you were not able to attend, WATCH MIKE’S PRESENTATION HERE.

There are more online programs planned. We’ll keep you informed here and on our Facebook page. To get on our database, send an email to

‘Landmarks Walking History Project’
posts then-and-now Pinole photos
throughout Old Town

Our latest effort is the Landmarks Walking History Project. Historic Pinole photos have been placed on light poles throughout Old Town, each depicting a scene from the past from that exact location. We hope you enjoy this brief history lesson as you walk throughout the city.

The PHS thanks graphic designer Melissa Lawton for the idea for this project, and for creating the template for the photos.

We look forward to resuming our quarterly Kaiser programs. In the meantime, please enjoy Pinole’s history on our website, Facebook page, and our YouTube channel, where there are more than 30 Pinole history videos.

2012 PVHS graduate Dyana Wing So,
a master’s degree candidate in
Rotterdam, tells PHS audience
via Zoom how Pinole shaped her success

The Pinole Historical Society’s first venture into online programming on May 22 was a success, as Dyana Wing So, a 2012 Pinole Valley High School graduate who will receive her master’s degree in December from Erasmus University in Rotterdam, Netherlands, generously spoke to more than 20 participants from her apartment in Rotterdam — at 3 a.m. her time! — about her life in Pinole, her Ivy League Connection experiences, her undergraduate days at the University of Pennsylvania, and her graduate studies in some of the major cities in Europe.

After PVHS, Dyana earned a bachelor’s degree in Visual Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016, and stayed at Penn as an admissions officer for 2 1/2 years. She also reviewed short films for the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival.

She left Penn to continue her education in a joint-degree master’s program in Business History and Global Markets, thanks to a full scholarship from the European Commission.

Since 2018 she’s studied, worked, and lived in Glasgow, Scotland; Barcelona, Spain; and now from her stay-at-home base in Rotterdam.


There are more online programs planned. We’ll keep you informed here and on our Facebook page. To get on our database, send an email to

PVHS student wins $250
George R. Vincent scholarship
from the Pinole Historical Society

Ngoc June Nguyen, who emigrated from Vietnam to Pinole with her family in 2015 with limited English skills and developed into National Honor Society student at Pinole Valley High School, is the 2020 winner of the Pinole Historical Society’s George R. Vincent scholarship.

June, who will turn 18 on June 3, will attend the University of California at Berkeley in the fall. She was accepted at five other UC schools and two Cal-State universities. She will study business administration with possible career goals as a management consultant or banker.

June did not speak or barely understood English when she arrived in 2015.

“It was very hard for me to understand a lot of people and communicate with them,” she says. “I didn’t speak English well or listen to it well. My first year in high school wasn’’t very good, but when I entered my sophomore and junior years my friends who spoke fluently helped me process my English. Class discussions also helped me, and I studied on my own at home.”

Her hard work paid off. She’s been a National Honor Society member for two years, serving as secretary and historian of the school chapter this year. She’s also secretary of the PVHS Interact Club, a Pinole Rotary-sponsored service organization; co-founder of the PVHS Ceramic Club, which make pottery and sells it at the Pinole Farmers’ Market; and is an intern for “Earth Team,” an environmental group.

She’s also a volunteer at the Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church food pantry in Richmond, and a teaching assistant at the Vietnamese Language School in St. Paul’s Church, in San Pablo.

And, she’s a server at Happy Sashimi.


Her academic achievements include high marks in AP history.

“I really like history,” she says. “At first I was afraid it would be too hard because of the writing and reading required. But I became immersed in the subject. American history is pretty cool.”

After attending classes on the PVHS portable campus for three years, June had hoped to finish her high school career with a complete year at the new PVHS — and a graduation ceremony.

But, because of the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, there will be no large graduation ceremony with her classmates.

“It’s really sad,” she says. “I believe also for all the students. I picked up my cap and gown on Wednesday and I almost cried. I saw my teachers and [principal] Kibby, and it was really emotional for me.”

We hope some of the disappointment lessens when she begins class at Cal in the fall.

Life of Bernardo Fernandez featured
in historical society presentation

Susan Fernandez, great-granddaughter of Bernardo Fernandez, one of the founders of Pinole, presents “The Life and Times of Bernardo Fernandez” in a 2017 program for the Pinole Historical Society. LISTEN TO THE PROGRAM HERE.

George Vincent’s book about
Pinole’s early schools for sale

Pinole Historical Society co-founder and historian George Vincent’s book, “School Bells and Ink Wells: a History of the Early Schools of Pinole, 1865-1968,” is available for sale.

The 124-page book, featuring more than 150 photos, some never-before seen, chronicles the history of the Fitzgerald Ranch School (1865-1886), Plaza School (1886-1906), and Pinole-Hercules School #1 (1906-1966).

The book is filled with stories and amusing anecdotes, and anyone who went to school in Pinole will treasure this fond memory of their early education. It brings to light the workings and people that made the Pinole-Hercules Union School District the envy of surrounding townships.

Hill School alumni are fiercely loyal to their “green school” that stood atop Samuel Street in Pinole until 1968. There is a shared pride of camaraderie understood only by those who bore the trials of the daily uphill climb to the creaking stairs and dark halls haunted by the strict stares of lurking teachers.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER THE BOOK(S) ($30, including sales tax and postage). Fill out the order form and mail it to George Vincent. He will mail the book to you.

‘Pinole Through Time’ on sale
via mail order, at farmers’ market,
and at PHS meetings

The latest book by the acclaimed 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.

Pinole Through Time and all of our other history books about Contra Costa County cities are on sale at the Pinole Farmers’ Market, via mail order, and at PHS quarterly meetings.

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

Historical videos on city’s website

These Pinole Historical Society programs may now be viewed on your computer or other device via the city’s website. Go to the City of Pinole’s website. Scroll down to PINOLE MUSEUM SOCIETY-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
• 2015 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.’
• 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
Also, 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.

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.


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.

Two library exhibits celebrate
Pinole’s interesting 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.

Historic Walking Tour
on Google Maps

The PHS thanks supporter Tom Parsons, who was kind enough to make a Google Map of the Pinole Historic Walking Tour. CHECK OUT TOM’S HANDIWORK HERE.