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A Historical Hub for Pinole

by Jeff Rubin, President, Pinole History Museum


Faria House via drone (Courtesy of Earl Combs)

One day in a few years, a visitor to the Faria House at 2100 San Pablo Avenue will enter a contemporary learning and cultural preservation center in a classic home.


In this elegant Victorian-era farmhouse built around 1880, one of the city’s most historic and beloved buildings, he or she will find a technology-rich museum, with multi-media presentations, interactive exhibits and history games, video screens, wireless access to recorded oral histories, and access to video-recorded history programs.


With a limited amount of space, the Pinole History Museum will be a modern museum and research center where visitors can access digitized photos, illustrations, and images stretching back almost 200 years, and learn about Pinole and the surrounding communities.


It will be a world-class, small-city museum.


With an ideal downtown location, the museum will appeal to all people in our community — school children, young and middle-age adults, senior residents — and will be a place that people of all cultures will want to visit repeatedly.


“For many, the old days go back to when you moved to Pinole, or for a very few living old timers, when you were growing up in Pinole,” says former Pinole Mayor Jack Meehan. “A museum is like an album of photos or artifacts, memorabilia and records of the past, what it was like back then, and helps us see and live the present — and maybe the future, too — in clearer perspective.”


On Saturday, November 2, the Pinole History Museum will have its second fundraising dinner in the St. Joseph School auditorium, 1961 Plum Street, Pinole, as it raises money to help pay — along with the City of Pinole — for the interior restoration of the Faria House. Dinner tickets may be purchased at pinolehistorymuseum.org, by e-mail at info@pinolehistorymuseum.org, or by calling (510) 724-9507.


If you are unable to attend the dinner, please consider donating, either online or by sending a check to PO Box 285, Pinole, CA 94564. You can help MAKE HISTORY HAPPEN in Pinole.

In 2005, the city moved the Faria House from its location near Interstate 80 to Heritage Park, in the city’s Old Town district. In 2016, the Pinole City Council designated it as a site for a museum.


There are Pinole residents, many of them first-generation, who know nothing about their city’s history, in large part because there’s no central place for them to go to learn about it. The archival documents and artifacts chronicling the city’s history reside in garages and living rooms, subject to varying temperatures and moisture.


The Pinole History Museum’s mission is to enhance the preservation and collection of artifacts that represent Pinole history and culture. Museum exhibits and research opportunities will educate and inspire Pinole residents’ community affiliation and civic pride.


Pinole’s population is increasingly diverse, tech savvy — and young! The Pinole History Museum will be a place where all cultures that have contributed to the city’s history will be represented. The museum will be contemporary while being historical, a museum where visitors can walk through the city’s past into the present, and envision the future.


“A museum is the only conduit to the past,” says Mike LeFebvre, a lifelong Pinole resident, former Pinole Valley High School softball coach, and son of Pinole Merchants’ baseball legend “Big Red” LeFebvre. “It’s a past that is rich in history, people, and mostly, relationships. These are all things too precious to be shoved aside and soon forgotten.”


The museum board’s immediate goals include:


• Opening by and preparing for a major 2023 celebration of the 200th anniversary of the El Rancho Pinole land grant that created the area that includes the City of Pinole.

• Obtaining local and regional recognition as a community gathering place for lectures, presentations, and activities, in addition to being a repository of the city’s history and artifacts.

• Being known as a well-regarded event center that will host private and corporate functions — cocktail parties, birthday and anniversary parties, retreats, and other events — that will generate revenue for the museum’s operating expenses.


A robust array of innovative programs is in the works, including creating a virtual online museum so people can access and appreciate the city’s history wherever they may be.


More information is on the museum’s website at:

pinolehistorymuseum.org/our-goals/planned-exhibits

Also planned are a lecture series (poets, historians, authors, judges, etc.), and programs for children and young adults.


The museum board has been working with the city, which owns the building, and its architect to create the interior plans — including an elevator to the second floor — for the renovation of the Faria House. Plans are due by the end of this year.


In only the first year of fundraising (one dinner and two mail appeals), the museum has received widespread support from more than 150 individuals and companies who have donated more than $30,000. This includes 10 donors who have given $1,000 or more.


The museum board shares the goal of hundreds of supporters determined to bring the city’s culture to life in a building so representative of our community’s history.


It will take a concerted effort to raise the anticipated several hundred thousand dollars of construction funds to renovate and open the museum. The museum board will apply for grants from corporate and private foundations, and from federal and state sources that may be available. An online crowd-funding campaign will begin once the renovation costs are known.

“History is not obscure or unimportant,” says Pinole City Council member Vincent Salimi. “It holds a mirror up to the present and helps us move forward based on the past. The decisions made for our future are based on what came before us.


“The ability to examine and view artifacts brings history to life. Seeing, touching, and feeling artifacts make them real and relatable. Just as we trace our family roots and ancestry, we can also trace the roots of our city and the history of those who came before us. Museums maintain a record of who and what we are.


“When we respect our history we honor the hard work and forward thinking of those who came before us. The Pinole History Museum will help establish a link between Pinole’s past and its future.”

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