Historic Sites

 

On this page you will find pictures and information about historic sites in El Sobrante. As more sites come to our attention, the number of identified sites will grow. The criteria for adding a site to this page is somewhat subjective, but, in general, each site must be at least 50 years old and be of historic significance in the development of our community.

Thode Ranch House

Click on the first image to see an expanded view plus explanatory text

H. Nicholas Thode immigrated from Germany to San Francisco in 1869.  Shortly thereafter he moved to Contra Costa County, and in 1880 he built this home along what is now Valley View Road near the intersection with Olinda Road.  Remarkably, the structure has remained relatively unchanged over the years, the changes made being mostly cosmetic.  
 


Thode's property extended to the west and included the Oak Grove area (later La Honda Bowl) that served as a favorite stop on the California and Nevada Railroad.  Thode made a little extra money by supplying picnickers with food and drink.

Maloney Ranch

In the late 1800s, Tom Maloney owned a large ranch along what is now Appian Way, stretching from the present site of the Post Office to San Pablo Avenue.  Until 1953, the upper section of Appian Way (from the "Y"), was known as Maloney Road.  The original farmhouse, much altered, is still standing, just north of the Post Office.

1/2
Campbell Home

Walter and Alice Campbell moved from Rodeo to El Sobrante in 1934.  They built this home along what is now known as Campbell Lane, which leads to the Canyon Pool.  Their son, Edward, grew up in this home and became a volunteer fireman.  He married a girl who worked on the Skow Dairy, across the San Pablo Dam Road.  He lived all his life in El Sobrante.

1/2
Nunes Ranch Barn

In 1859, Andrew Abrott and F.W. Weyhe acquired 512 acres of land in the hills above San Pablo Creek.  Both men built homes and went into ranching.  In 1914, Jacinto Nunes and his wife, Maria, immigrants from the Azores, leased part of the land from the Abrott family.  Nunes family descendants still carry on ranching on this property.

 

The original Abrott ranch house was destroyed in a fire, but this barn is part of the original ranch and is still in use. 
 

The Nunes ranch is located off Castro Ranch Road, not far from the Carriage Hills subdivisions.

Oliver's Hardware 

Click on the first image to see an expanded view plus explanatory text

Park Theatre

1949 was a big year for El Sobrante, witnessing the opening of a brand-new fire station and its first, and only, movie theatre.  The theatre was built and owned by Dick Jeha.  His brother, Bob, owned the Park Rexall Pharmacy, which was originally attached to the theatre building.

Park Theatre, 1953
Park Theatre, 1953

The Park Theatre, in downtown El Sobrante, opened in 1949, at the corner of the Dam Road and Hillcrest. It is the only movie theatre our town has ever had.

press to zoom
Park Theatre today
Park Theatre today

The old Park Theatre still stands today, serving for years as a church. The structure attached to the right side was the original site of the Park/Rexall Pharmacy.

press to zoom
Park Theatre, 1953
Park Theatre, 1953

The Park Theatre, in downtown El Sobrante, opened in 1949, at the corner of the Dam Road and Hillcrest. It is the only movie theatre our town has ever had.

press to zoom
1/2
Ed's Tavern

Ed's Place is the oldest continuously operating bar in El Sobrante.  Ed Banducci bought the property in 1938.  What, if anything, was there before is something of a mystery.  Some say there was a "Road House" at the site, but it is not clear what this might mean.  Research is ongoing.

Vogel's Market

One of the oldest and largest buildings in town, the old Vogel's Market has been home to many businesses.  It is currently unoccupied.

Adachi1967.jpg
Adachi Nursery Building

For over 100 years, the Adachi family has been in the floral nursery business.  Originally operating in El Cerrito, the family opened this business in 1967, at the corner of Valley View and Sobrante Avenue. Designed by the firm of Hardison and Komatsu, the structure is not only historically important, as the last remnant of the Japanese horticultural tradition in West County, but, as an example of mid-century modern architecture, from a prominent local architect, it is architecturally significant as well.

Richmond Farm Creamery Homes

These two homes were built in 1929 on the site of the Skow Dairy, also known as the Richmond Farm Creamery.  The dairy was located just west of Clark Road, on the south side of the Dam Road.  These homes, little changed, represent all that is left of the dairy operation.  Their architectural style is unique in the area and the structures are easily identified. 

4430 San Pablo Dam Road
4430 San Pablo Dam Road

press to zoom
4410 San Pablo Dam Road
4410 San Pablo Dam Road

press to zoom
4430 San Pablo Dam Road
4430 San Pablo Dam Road

press to zoom
1/2
Manor Market, early 1950s
Manor Market, early 1950s

press to zoom
Manor Market Today
Manor Market Today

press to zoom
Manor Market, early 1950s
Manor Market, early 1950s

press to zoom
1/2
Manor Market

This grocery market, located on Manor Road, is one of the oldest continuously operating markets in our community.  Certainly, it is the oldest such business with an unchanged name.  It was operated by Gene and Martha Chan from 1952 to 1988.  Both Gene and Martha were very active in the community.  The building itself has changed little over the years.

Louis Store

Opening in 1950, the new "Fairway Market" offered a level of service "not available, heretofore, in this area."  Part of the Louis Store chain, the name quickly changed to just "Louis Store."  It has changed hands many times over the years, and today houses a Dollar Tree operation.

LoRay, c. 1966
LoRay, c. 1966

The LoRay Store opened in 1965, and was owned by Ray and Loretta Dickinson (hence the name)/

press to zoom
Louis Store, 2011
Louis Store, 2011

The "Super Fairway Market" opened in July of 1950, and was by far the largest food market in El Sobrante at the time. In the recent past, it has been home to the Salvation Army Goodwill store, and is currently operating as a Dollar Tree store.

press to zoom
LoRay, c. 1966
LoRay, c. 1966

The LoRay Store opened in 1965, and was owned by Ray and Loretta Dickinson (hence the name)/

press to zoom
1/2
Rock Wall, 1935
Rock Wall, 1935

This image shows the "Observation Point" shortly after construction, with excess stones lying around.

press to zoom
Rock Wall site, 2012
Rock Wall site, 2012

Though much hidden by the foliage, the rock wall still remains, though part of the wall at the left has fallen down the slope. But, at the right, a bit of the wall can be seen emerging from behind the toilet facility. The opening in the center of the wall, leading to a stone stairway, is just to the right of the far end of the cyclone fence. The outfall tower is visible through the trees.

press to zoom
Rock Wall Plan
Rock Wall Plan

Maurice Abraham, our VP and expert drafts person, laid out this plan as an idealized image of what we want to achieve in the development of this unique site.

press to zoom
Rock Wall, 1935
Rock Wall, 1935

This image shows the "Observation Point" shortly after construction, with excess stones lying around.

press to zoom
1/3
CCC Rock Wall,
San Pablo Reservoir

From 1933 until the beginning of the 2nd World War, the Federal Civilian Conservation Corps maintained a camp in the area now known as Kennedy Grove.  The boys in the camp (many groups cycled through the camp), worked all around the San Pablo Reservoir, planting and cutting trees, building roads., and building rock structures, such as this wall along what was supposed to be an observation point for passing autos.  The wall still exists, and is currently being maintained and stabilized by the ESHS.  It is on property that is open to thepublic.

Rancho Liquors

Probably the oldest continuously operating bar in downtown El Sobrante, the Rancho originally opened in 1950 as Tom's. Featuring a western theme, which largely remains, at least on the inside, the bar has become one of the downtown's most recognizable watering holes.  The name changed to the Rancho in 1961, with a change in ownership.

Tom's (Rancho) Liquors, 1953
Tom's (Rancho) Liquors, 1953

Pete and Minerva Ogle opened built and opened Tom's Liquors (it was also a restaurant) in 1950. In 1961, new owner Len Battaglia renamed the business "Rancho Liquors'" the name by which it is known today.

press to zoom
Rancho Liquors, 1973
Rancho Liquors, 1973

This is the bar that most of the locals recognize today. However, recent renovations have resulted in a very different look, particularly as a result of the removal of the tiled overhang.

press to zoom
Tom's (Rancho) Liquors, 1953
Tom's (Rancho) Liquors, 1953

Pete and Minerva Ogle opened built and opened Tom's Liquors (it was also a restaurant) in 1950. In 1961, new owner Len Battaglia renamed the business "Rancho Liquors'" the name by which it is known today.

press to zoom
1/2

This little shopping center, right in the heart of the downtown, was opened in July, 1960.  This picture was taken in 1975, but little had changed since the center was built, and the site looks much the same today, though the businesses have changed.  The sign is original.

Hill View Center
HillviewCtr73.jpg

The styling captures the "Ranch Style" typical of the 1950s and 1960s.