The Lady Who Disliked Pinole

By George R. Vincent, Co-founder Pinole Historical Society

The home of one of Pinole’s leading ladies of the past is today a town landmark, which, unlike so many local structures, has withstood the ravages of time and the wrecking ball.

The stately gray and white Pfeiffer House is a main street architectural reminder that Pinole has a prideful history to tell. The old home seems out of place amid its surroundings of the busy buzz of shopping plazas, noisy traffic, and neon business fronts. Built in 1901 alongside Pinole Creek, the originally all-white redwood home today houses the aptly named Pinole Creek Cafe.

Who were the Pfeiffers, who chose this location to begin their new lives in a new community about to enter a new century?

In 1898, eighteen-year old Lottie Race disembarked from Pinole’s Southern Pacific depot in a driving rainstorm. Young Lottie was not at all impressed with her first glimpse of Pinole and felt her stay there to be a short one. Eighty-seven years later, Lottie was still a Pinolean. Her father, Albert Race, found work at the Hercules Powder Company (California Powder Works) and brought his family from Eureka to live in Pinole in 1898. Fast forwarding to 1974 found Lottie Race Pfeiffer at age 94, still living in her home at 2454 San Pablo Avenue.

Lottie remembered Pinole in those early days as having more saloons than houses, no sidewalks, hard well water and always muddy streets. The Races lived on Tennent Avenue, where there were 11 saloons; some of the Races were saloon-keepers.

But the small community also offered Pinoleans fun outlets associated with the many fraternal lodges. Dances with an orchestra were held every Saturday night in the large Foresters’ Hall on Tennent Avenue. It burned down in the large fire of 1908 and was replaced by the Pinole Opera House, which burned down in 1931.