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2017 marks the 100th year since incorporation of El Cerrito as a city. What came before? What has happened since? For what is El Cerrito noteworthy? Who were the "movers & shakers" and what are some of the interesting stories to tell?

If your local organization would like a speaker on these or related topics, the El Cerrito Historical Society has a speakers panel available. Contact Rich Bartke 235-1315 richbartke@aol.com, or David Weinstein 524-1737 davidweinstein@yahoo.com.


History of El Cerrito
Story by Fay Breneman

The following was written by Fay Breneman, a daughter of Dr. Joseph Breneman. The doctor and his family moved to Rust in 1911. Fay was a schoolteacher and a librarian. She ran the library on Fairmount Avenue and Liberty Street for many years. She was born in 1884 and lived to be 90 years of age. This must have been written around 1940-41, before El Cerrito High School opened. It was received from Joe Staley, Dr. Breneman's grandson.
The history of El Cerrito antedates the coming of the English-speaking people to California. From 1697 when the Jesuits came until November 9, 1822, California was under the Spanish flag. The Jesuits left in April, 1768, and the Franciscans under Junipero Serra came and began the founding of the missions. This church work was part of the Spaniards three-fold plan of colonization: the religious, represented by the missions; the military, by the presidio, that was established by each mission; and the civic, by the pueblo, with an alcalde who acted as mayor and judge, in charge.

After Mexico became independent of Spain in 1822, the last Spanish governor, who was also the first Mexican governor, called an assembly of ten delegates composed of the commandants of eight presidios and two Fathers representing the missions and apprised them of the successful Mexican revolution and the assembly declared Alta California from then on dependent solely on the government of Mexico. (story continues)


“This Ain't No Mouse Music”
DATE: October 15th - TIME: Saturday 10am
LOCATION: El Cerrito Theater

The El Cerrito Historical Society is pleased to announce a free showing of the award-winning documentary film, "This Ain't No Mouse Music," on Saturday, October 15, 2016 at 10 a.m., at the Cerrito Theater.

This documentary tells the story of Mr. Chris Strachwitz, owner of Down Home Records and Arhoolie Records, music businesses at 10341 San Pablo Avenue in El Cerrito. Since 1960, Mr. Strachwitz has traveled the country seeking authentic American "roots music" and recording it on the Arhoolie label, often in open air rather than in sound studios. His recordings are now destined for the Smithsonian Institution.

When the film debuted a couple of years ago at the Cerrito Theater, it sold out, and many Historical Society members did not have a chance to see it. The Society is proud to offer this special repeat performance as part of October's "Arts Month," with co-sponsorship by the El Cerrito Arts & Culture Commission.

Seating is limited. For those unable to attend, a DVD of the film is available from the Contra Costa County Library and the Albany Library. It can also be purchased at Down Home Music or on Amazon.com.


El Cerrito Noteable Les Blank (1935-2013) -
documentary filmmaker

The El Cerrito Historical Society believes that a remarkable number of noteworthy people have come from El Cerrito or have lived here at some time in their lives. A few were world famous, others were well-known in the area or were particularly noteworthy in their own field. This list is an attempt to compile those names now known to the Society. In the future the Society hopes to compile a list of those who were significant in the development and growth of El Cerrito. This is a work in progress, and your suggestions for additions, editing, or deletions are welcome. (Click Here to visit our extensive list.


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