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.

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, an Irish immigrant who came to the U.S. via Canada, settled in the El Sobrante area (near the present-day Post Office) and built a home.  His large ranch extended over the hills to San Pablo Avenue.  Until 1953, the section of Appian Way from Valley View (the "Y") to San Pablo Avenue was known as Maloney Road. 

The current owners of the Maloney ranch, Kurt and Cindy Pedracci, have made extensive changes to the structure over the years, but the home retains the "bones" of the original.

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 and Maria Nunes, immigrants from the Azores, leased part of the land from the Abrott family.  Nunes family descendants still carry on ranching on this property, which is now leased from the East Bay Municipal Utility District.

The original Abrott ranch house was destroyed in a fire, but this barn is part of the original ranch layout and is still in use. 
     The Nunes ranch is located off Castro Ranch Road, not far from the Carriage Hills subdivisions.

Campbell Home

Walter and Alice Campbell moved from Rodeo to
El Sobrante in 1934 and built this home along what is now known as Campbell Lane (which leads to the Canyon swimming pool).  In front of the house is their son, Edward Campbell, now in his early 90s and still living in El Sobrante.

Just across the Dam Road was the sprawling Richmond Farm Creamery, which was operated by the Skow family and which was established along Clark Road in 1921.  Edward worked at the dairy and it was there that he met his future wife, Jeanne Stark.  Ed also served for many years as a volunteer fireman for the El Sobrante Fire Department.
     The house has changed very little over the years and now serves as a rental unit. 

Richmond Farm Creamery Homes
These two homes were built in 1929 on property belonging to the family of Soren Skow, who operated a large dairy in El Sobrante, called the Richmond Farm Creamery. Though the cattle ranged over a large area, the dairy operation itself was located along the Dam Road, just to the west of Clark Road.  These homes represent all that is left of the operation.  They are located on the south side of the Dam Road.  The home on the left was occupied by Soren's son, Lester, and his family.  The home on the right was owned by Ed Kamb, who had married Soren's daughter Erma.  Both appear to be in good shape and relatively unchanged over the years.  They are easily identified as all of the surrounding structures were built much later.

ED'S               The oldest bar in El Sobrante
When Ed Banducci (Sr.) and his wife Teresa bought this place in 1938 it was already old.  Legend has it that it served as a "road house" to travelers along the Dam Road (and before that, the San Pablo Creek Road).  The couple quickly remodeled the structure and re-opened it as "Ed's Tavern."  It was remodeled again in the early 1950s and has changed little since. It is located just west of the intersection  at Valley View. 

Laverne Banducci (Nunes), wife of the late Ed Jr., owns the bar today, which is rented out.  It is still going strong.

San Pablo Dam/Reservoir

Construction of the dam began in 1916, making it nearly 100 years old.  Not only is it an historic site in itself, it contains historic structures that deserve attention on their own. 

The San Pablo Dam and Reservoir have always been associated with El Sobrante.  When it officially opened to the public in 1973, it was the community of El Sobrante that claimed the newly-opened lake as its own.

Civilian Conservation Corps Check Dams, Mistletoe Creek, SP Reservoir
EBMUD ranger Tom Brackett is standing on one of twelve rock "check dams"built along little Mistletoe Creek in the 1930s as part of a Roosevelt administration works program, whose purpose was to employ young men in wholesome work and to restore and improve the natural environment.  For most of the 1930s, our local reservoir was a very active place, with young men planting and cutting trees, building roads, and constructing rock walls and dams.  Amazingly well-constructed, these little dams are still performing their intended task of halting erosion.  They are a valuable but little-known part of our local historic heritage.
     Mistletoe Creek is located at the eastern end of the San Pablo Reservoir on land that is not open to the public. 

Observation Point, SP Reservoir

In 1935, the CCC built a rock wall and stairway along the north side of the old Dam Road and just south of the outfall tower that still stands about halfway down the south side of the lake.  This was designed as a place for motorists to stop, enjoy the view, and even walk down to the shoreline.  This is somewhat surprising, as the reservoir was not officially opened to the public until 1973.  Though part of the wall has fallen away over the years, most of it is intact, as is the stairway, shown here.  Fortunately, the site is on land open to the public.  With little effort, the site could be made more accessible and enhanced by an interpretive exhibit.

Old Castro Road

Castro Road no longer exists, but once ran all the way from San Pablo Dam Road to the intersection with Pinole Valley Road and Alhambra Valley Road.  It is now broken up into three sections with new names:  Valley View, Olinda, and Castro Ranch.  This little section of road shown here was once part of the old Castro Road and it went through the Castro home site where Patricio and then his two sons, Percy and Percy jr., raised cattle and sold fresh meat. It can still be seen, just off the current Castro Ranch Road and is now a driveway into what is now a privately-owned property. 

Vogel's Market

Ray Vogel opened his grocery store in the mid-1940s.  At the time, it was probably the largest market in El Sobrante.  It is significant that it was located, not in the downtown area, but at the intersection of Valley View and Maloney Road (now Appian Way), in order to better serve the war-time neighborhoods springing up along Maloney Road, Manor Road, Allview, and Sobrante Avenue.  In 1965, Logan Fowler moved his clothing and variety store to this location, where it remained until 1993.  Since then it has been home to many different businesses, and is currently empty.

Fairway/Louis Store

The "Super Fairway Market" opened in July of 1950 and was advertised to provide a level of service "not available, heretofore, in this area."  By far the largest store in El Sobrante at the time, it held four separate businesses:  a grocery store, a butcher shop, a liquor store, and a variety store.  Fairway markets were part of the Louis Store chain, and the name quickly changed to, simply, "Louis Store."  In 1965 Ray Dickenson, who had owned "Ray's Market" took over the store and named it LoRay, after himself and his wife, Loretta.  It has been home to the Salvation Army Goodwill Store, and has recently been purchased by the Dollar Tree company.

Park Theatre

The Park Theatre, located at the intersection of the Dam Road and Hillcrest,  opened on September 29, 1949.  The very first movie to be shown was, "Yes Sir! That's My Baby" starring Donald O'Connor.  The Park was the venue of many community and charitable events, including church services.  It has been the only movie theatre that El Sobrante has ever had.  After its closing, it has served as the site for several separate church groups, and is currently serving as a church.

Subpages (1): Walking Tours