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Contra Costa County Historical Society


Our mission is to preserve, protect, and provide public access to the records and heritage of Contra Costa County.

Ice Cream Social and Open House

Contra Costa County History Center
724 Escobar St., Martinez
Saturday, July 21, 2018 – 12:00 - 2:00 p.m.

The Contra Costa County Historical Society is hosting its 3rd Annual Ice Cream Social and Open House to celebrate National Ice Cream Day and summertime in Contra Costa County. What better way to celebrate summertime in CoCo County than with a summertime favorite such as Ice Cream. From Richmond in the West, to Brentwood & Oakley in the East, to San Ramon in the South, the big beautiful County we reside in is a great place to enjoy summertime activities.

Haven’t seen the current exhibit or taken a tour of the County archives? Take advantage of this special opportunity to see how CCCHS preserves delicate records and special collections.

Let’s celebrate our County history together over a scoop!

National Ice Cream Day

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month and the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day. He recognized ice cream as a fun and nutritious food that is enjoyed by over 90 percent of the nation's population.

The History of Ice Cream in America

The first official account of ice cream in the New World comes from a letter written in 1744 by a guest of Maryland Governor William Bladen. The first advertisement for ice cream in this country appeared in the New York Gazette on May 12, 1777, when confectioner Philip Lenzi announced that ice cream was available "almost every day." Records kept by a Chatham Street, New York, merchant show that President George Washington spent approximately $200 for ice cream during the summer of 1790. Inventory records of Mount Vernon taken after Washington's death revealed "two pewter ice cream pots." President Thomas Jefferson was said to have a favorite 18-step recipe for an ice cream delicacy that resembled a modern-day Baked Alaska. In 1813, Dolley Madison served a magnificent strawberry ice cream creation at President Madison's second inaugural banquet at the White House.

Until 1800, ice cream remained a rare and exotic dessert enjoyed mostly by the elite. Around 1800, insulated ice houses were invented. Manufacturing ice cream soon became an industry in America, pioneered in 1851 by a Baltimore milk dealer named Jacob Fussell. Like other American industries, ice cream production increased because of technological innovations, including steam power, mechanical refrigeration, the homogenizer, electric power and motors, packing machines, and new freezing processes and equipment. In addition, motorized delivery vehicles dramatically changed the industry. Due to ongoing technological advances, today's total frozen dairy annual production in the United States is more than 1.6 billion gallons.

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Visit our online book store by clicking here or visit us in person for additional items not sold online.

History Center Hours of Operation and Contact Information

The Contra Costa County Historical Society's History Center is located at:
724 Escobar St.
Martinez, CA
Phone: 925-229-1042
Our normal hours of operation are:

From time to time, we may be open for special events, such as exhibit open houses, or if there is an event in downtown Martinez.

Remember, we are staffed largely by volunteers, so we may not always be open the entire time. To be sure we are open, please call ahead. We are also available via email at "".

Justice and Judges:
The History of the Law in Contra Costa County

Come see the Contra Costa County Historical Society's current exhibit, Justice and Judges: The History of the Law in Contra Costa County. The exhibit is in honor of Judge Richard Arnason and features artifacts and court documents that belonged to him, as well as a brief history of the Judicial system as it has evolved in Contra Costa County.

The exhibit is open to the public during our open hours, Tuesday-Thursday from 9AM to 4PM, as well as the third Saturday of each month from 10AM to 2PM.

About the Exhibit

The Society recently received a substantial donation from the Contra Costa County Superior Court. The donation consists of artifacts and court documents that once belonged to Judge Richard Arnason, who passed away in 2015 at the age of 94. Judge Arnason served as a Superior Court Judge for 49 years, longer than any judge in the history of the county.

He was also the judge in the Angela Davis trial, in 1972, arguably one of the most significant (for both legal and political reasons) cases of the latter 20th century.

The donation was received from Judge Barry Goode, who suggested that an exhibit honoring Judge Arnason would be welcomed. The Society's Executive Director also saw the potential for using the materials to educate the citizens of Contra Costa County, and thus, an exhibit was born.

CCCHS video at Lesher Foundation "Newsmakers" Speaker Series

On November 2, 2015, the Contra Costa County Historical Society was chosen to be the non-profit "partner" for that night's lecture in the "Newsmakers: Lesher Speaker Series" held at the Lesher Center in Walnut Creek. In addition to a generous donation of event tickets to the society, media sponsor KTVU Channel 2 sent a video crew to the Center to make a video highlighting some of our accomplishments. The 2 1/2 minute video was screened to the audience at the event, and a copy of the finished product was given to the Society to use as it sees fit. You may see the video shown that night by clicking on this link.

Looking for a gift for that hard-to-buy for history buff? The History Center offers a wide variety of books, photographs and services that they will just love. A membership in the Contra Costa County Historical Society makes a great gift too. For details on Society membership, whether for yourself or as a gift, please click here.

CCCHS: The Video!

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Board Member Steve James, producer/volunteer Santiago Chen and many other volunteers at the Center, the Contra Costa County Historical Society has released a YouTube video showing the many facets and facilities available to the public at our History Center in Martinez. If you wish to see the video, click on this link.

Topographical Maps for Sale

While cleaning up the map room recently, we came across a number of duplicate copies of our topographical county maps, along with a few that were from outside the county. We are making them available for sale, but please note that the quantities are quite limited and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. For information on what maps available, please click on this link.

Before BART - Electric Railroads Link Contra Costa County, The Book!

CCCHS Past President and Curator of the San Ramon Valley Museum Beverly Lane has extended the great photos and research from our wildly successful exhibit on Electric Trains in Contra Costa County in 2012 into a booklet that the Society is proud to make available to the public. Click here to get more information on the booklet and how to purchase your own copy.

Click here to see a list of the Society's charter members.

You can also see a list of the Society's presidents from 1951 to the present by clicking here.

The Contra Costa County Historical Society's mission is to preserve for the benefit of the people of our County, the relics of our past. We are using the World Wide Web in order to give more of us access to the wonderful stories of the people who lived in our County, so many years ago. The Society hopes that these Web pages will bring the people of Contra Costa's present, closer to those who lived, worked and died in our County and who are, our History.

The current officers and board of directors of the Contra Costa Historical Society are:

Officer Name Home Town Term Expires
PresidentJohn MercurioConcord12/31/2018
1st Vice PresidentDonald BastinEl Sobrante12/31/2019
2nd Vice PresidentOliver BrayMartinez12/31/2019
SecretaryJohn GreitzerMartinez12/31/2019
TreasurerSteve JamesEl Sobrante12/31/2020
DirectorLisa GorrellMartinez12/31/2018
DirectorTara WeberMartinez12/31/2018
DirectorBeverly LaneDanville 12/31/2019
DirectorJohn BurghConcord12/31/2020
DirectorAndrea BlachmanMartinez12/31/2020
DirectorScott SaftlerWalnut Creek12/31/2020
Director EmeritusBetty MaffeiWalnut Creek---

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