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The Chung Mei Home for Boys

The drums began pounding at 2 p.m. A crowd of more than 1,500 people was gathered in front of El Cerrito’s city hall to mark a grand day in the city’s history.

It was opening day for the Chung Mei Home for Chinese Boys, said to be the only such orphanage in the United States.The year was 1935, and the 68 “Chung Mei boys” who were moving into the home, dressed in khaki uniforms ...story continues on The Patch

Dorothy & Sundar Shadi History Room

sundarshadiThe El Cerrito Historical Society offers "open hours" at the Dorothy & Sundar Shadi Historical Room (located in City Hall on the 2nd floor) on the third Thursday of every month. You can also contact the Historical Society to arrange an appointment.

You can also call Tom Panas at (510) 526-7507 for more information. (Click here to see the Shadi Room Reference Policy (the rules and policies for the Shadi Room.)


Featured Story
El Cerrito Fire Department
by Mervin Belfils

Back when the city was called Rust, the fire department consisted strictly of volunteers under the direction of Chief August Gatto and had a hand drawn cart. It was after the incorporation that two Ford chemical engines were purchased and one placed at either end of the city and Chief Gatto was replaced by volunteer Chief Earl Johnson.
After the bond issue in 1925 and new equipment was purchased, Chief Johnson was replaced by the first paid chief, Williams Hinds, who filled two positions, that of fire chief and police judge. In 1926, A. H. Byrd was hired as engineer. In 1928 Chief Hinds was replaced by A. H. Byrd and O. A. Burnett hired as engineer. In 1930 Chief Byrd resigned and O. A. Burnett was appointed chief with Joe DeMartini as engineer. DeMartini passed away in 1937 and was replaced by Victor Belfils from the ranks of volunteers.

In 1938 a Chevrolet water tank truck was purchased and gradually more men were hired to the fire fighting force. Two Buffalo type fire trucks were purchased in 1946 and put into service after the dedication of fire station #2. [Editor's Note: Station #2 is the building at the southwest corner of Ashbury & Eureka Avenues.] Later one rig was moved to station #3 after the dedication of that house on Arlington Avenue in 1949. Chief O. A. Burnett retired from the fire service in 1955 and was replaced by Ed Herman.

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