Early residents of Todos Santos village and Concord knew the value of education. Don Salvio Pacheco had provided a Spanish school in the pueblo around his Adobe; he also had set aside land for a new school when he created Todos Santos in 1868. The initial Concord Grammar School opened in the early 1870’s. Built on the southeast corner of Bonifacio and Grant Streets; it occupied the lots where the historical landmarked Alves House (7-10-85/23) is now situated. Concord grew quickly so a one-story addition was built in 1881 on the corner across Grant Street. Older students were accommodated here, and in rooms in the now demolished IOOF Hall. There still are many residents who remember the elegant Concord Elementary School. Built in 1892, it still stands east of Beach Street between Salvio Street and Willow Pass Road.
The school’s classic Victorian style, rich wooden detail, and arched belfry made it the pride of a community committed to education, and determined to promote Concord’s prosperity and significance. The school remained in use until 1923 when the top floor and belfry were removed. The building subsequently served as the auditorium and cafeteria for the then new one-story, brick school built in 1923 along Willow Pass Road. Designated Concord Landmark 8-17-87/44, it presently is used as a support facility for the school district. prior to 1900, Concord-area families desiring access to post-eighth grade education sent their children elsewhere. To overcome this, the Mt. Diablo Union High School District was formed in 1901 to provide follow on education for students from 12 elementary school districts in the area.
The first Mt. Diablo Union High School building – later Romaine Hall- was built in 1905 on 3 1/2 acres between Grant and Est streets, which were donated by Adolphus V. Maltby. The four-classroom structure cost $12,00. It eventually became the longest continuously used high school in California. By 1940, this well maintained, college-like campus had served students from Ambrose, Avon, Canyon, Clayton, Clyde, Cowell, Lafayette, Moraga, Morgan Territory, Nichols, Pacheco, Orinda, Pleasant Hill, Port Chicago, Saranap, Walnut Creek, and West Pittsburg. Many had commuted to school on the Sacramento Northern Electric railroad. A platform opposite the intersection of Bacon Street and Port Chicago Highway was their station. Romaine Hall had been remodeled and expanded several times before it was demolished to make way for the present administration facility. The site has been designated as Concord Landmark 3-12-90/19.
Any review of Concord’s history underscores the significant contributions of our many teachers; Mrs. Charlotte (Boyd) Ballenger and Miss Bertha Romaine are two representatives of this dedication and achievement. Charolette Ballenger, daughter of Joseph Boyd and Ency (Jacquith) Boyd, attended Concord schools and San Jose Normal College. She taught at Concord Elementary and Williams School. Beloved by many, she also was deeply involved in civic, social, and religious activities.
Miss Bertha Romaine, a mechanical drawing teacher, was selected as Mt. Diablo’s fifth principal. Always in the vanguard, she led the high school for 31 years during its most explosive period of growth. Every contractor doing business with the high school had a profound respect for her ability to understand blueprints and apply inspection criteria. The English, Science-Home Econ, Commercial and Shop buildings were built under her direction. She also ran the school based on standards which expected courtesy, decorum, and proper deportment. Girls wore uniforms; boys-neckties. In 1920, she raised the funds for the then largest and best-equipped high school Gymnasium in the county. Stepping down from her position as Principal in 1948, she retired in 1952.