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.

The Pinole Historical Society is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Tax ID: 23-7441316

Help commemorate the 200th anniversary
of the El Pinole Grant at the February 10
Pinole Historical Society meeting

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the El Pinole Grant, a 17,786-acre parcel stretching from San Pablo Bay to the Carquinez Strait awarded in 1823 by the Mexican government to retiring soldier Ygnacio Martínez, who chose to build his estate on land in what is today’s Pinole Valley Park.

How shall the Pinole Historical Society commemorate the bicentennial of the El Pinole Grant? That’s the subject of the society’s Friday, February 10, program at the Pinole Sportsman’s Club. The society invites its members and the community to attend this free event at 6:30 PM to offer ideas and suggestions.

Pinole holds the distinction of having one of the oldest names in Contra Costa County.

Spaniards first explored the area in the 1772 Pedro Fages expedition. Father Juan Crespi penned the name in his diary, recording the Spanish word “penole” or “pinolli” for the meal made from seeds, grain, and acorns given to the explorers by the welcoming Native Americans. The name stuck to the area, so that when Martínez applied for a land grant in 1823, he requested the grant as El Pinole.

At the time, Pinole Valley was described as a wild and desolate place with herds of deer and elk and numerous grizzly bear. The Martínez girls learned to rope grizzlies for sport from horseback

By 1836, Martínez had built a large adobe home in the valley about three miles inland from the bay, where he kept a large boat. Into this setting he brought his wife, Doña Maria Arellanes, and most of his eleven children.

The Martínez sons built adobe homes next to their father. The cluster became known as Los Adobes of Pinole Viejo (old Pinole).

Ygnacio Martínez died in 1848 and was buried at Mission San Jose. The new township of Martinez, which incorporated in 1876, was named to honor the pioneer family.

Please join us on February 10 and contribute your ideas about how the society might commemorate this special time in our city’s history.

George Vincent receives
Lifetime Historian Award
at Pinole History Museum dinner

George Vincent wrote in Images of America: Pinole about the cycle of life in Pinole in the early part of the 20th century:

“A person was brought into the world by Dr. Manuel Fernandez, attended Pinole-Hercules School #1, married a local sweetheart, worked at the Hercules Powder Company or Union Oil Company, and left the world via undertaker Charlie Ryan.”

What he left out is that most people who lived in 20th century Pinole – and for that matter, many in the 21st century – were taught by someone in the Vincent family. First, it was his mother, Emily Scanlan Vincent, who taught for 40-plus years, and then by George for 42 years.

Here we are, all these years later, and we are still being taught by George Vincent – whether it’s by reading one of the magnificent local history books he’s written, participating in one of his walking tours of historic downtown Pinole, been a fourth-grade student in a Pinole school and listened to one of his Pinole history programs, or reading his thoughtful, melodic stories in the PHS newsletter, Newsbriefs.

George is a master storyteller, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that Pinole would have little recorded or written history if it were not for George Vincent.

It was a pleasure, and an honor, to present George with the society’s Lifetime Historian Award at the Pinole History Museum’s September 24 Fundraiser and Dinner.


The combined boards of the Pinole Historical Society and Pinole History Museum worked for months preparing for the museum dinner, soliciting raffle and silent auction prizes, assembling the prizes, selling tickets, distributing flyers, doing publicity, and planning every aspect of the onsite event.

We are already discussing improvements and enhancements for the 2023 dinner so we can make it a signature event for Pinole.

Anyone who has worked on producing an event of this size knows how much work is involved. I am extremely grateful to the all-volunteer board members for the many hours they devoted to making the dinner a success – and helping the museum raise more than $10,000, after expenses:

Pinole Historical Society Board: Jo Ann Gannotti, Mary McMains, Carol White, Pete Murray, Norma Martínez-Rubin, and Jeff Rubin. Pinole History Museum: Belinda Espinosa, Alex Jason, Cyndie Sprinkel, Diane Dyer, and Jeff Rubin.

Pinole City Council approves Faria House

On June 7, 2022, the council approved hazard remediation and renovations of the Faria House to create a lower-level office space and upper-level warm shell — a partial renovation.

The measure approved by the council states work is scheduled to be completed by June 2023.

The council has not decided for what purpose the Faria House will be used.

The Pinole Historical Society and Pinole History Museum (PHM) Boards of Directors is continuing its efforts to have the city designate the Faria House as a site for a museum and to negotiate a lease with the PHM to use the Faria House — at least the first floor — as a museum.

Watch Pinole Historical Society
programs 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.

PHS photo
archives online
via our
collections management system

Some of the nearly 1,000 photos in the Pinole Historical Society archives are now available for online public viewing and purchase via CatalogIt, the society's cloud-based Collections Management System. We hope to complete the upload our our entire photo collection, and include images of our artifacts, in 2023.