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Hostlers, Community Leaders
Many have contributed to Concord’s heritage; very few have left a legacy of public service as significant as that of the DeRosas.
Joseph Francis DeRosa I began that record. Born in the Azores in 1864, he arrived in Concord around 1885. Briefly working on local farms, he also hauled grain to Port Costa. Before 1900, he married Edith Simpson DeRosa who had come to Concord from New York via Oregon. They then purchased Klein’s Concord Hotel on the northeast corner of Salvio and Mt. Diablo Streets. The Concord hotel had been built by Henry Loring in 1869 as one of Todos Santos’ two original hotels. DeRosa’s 18-room hotel primarily hosted transient businessmen; it had a reputation for an outstanding dining room and well stocked bar. In 1908, a two-story annex was added on the east side along Salvio. It eventually accommodated Scammon Jewelry and Kristick’s Barber Shop on its ground level; the second floor provided a dance hall and was used to show the earliest silent films.
By 1913, the 315 seat Majestic Theater and nine more hotel rooms were added north more hotel rooms were added north along Mt Diablo Street. The Federal Land Company then Great Western power Company and later PG&E occupied Mt Diablo street frontage between the hotel and theater. During this same period, the DeRosa’s five children: Frances Joseph II, Anne Lawrence (Buck) and Donald were born. By 1908 the family had moved across the plaza to a home on the southwest corner of of Mount Diablo Street and Willow Pass Road [present location of Concord Comercial Bank] Joseph also had become an active spokesman for local portugese community, and had been elected to the town’s board of trustees (city council) in 1908 -serving until his death in 1920, he is buried in St. Stephens Cemetery.
At this point, his son, Joseph Francis Joe II, stepped up. Born in 1904 Joe attended Concord’s original Elementary School on Willow Pass, drove a taxi wagon for “drummers” serving the Valley, and had caught rivets at Bay Point Shipyard, While at Mount Diablo High School (1919-23) he captained the football and basketball teams,was active in band and drama, and was Senior Class president. After graduation, Joe attended St. Mary’s College; began active management of Hotel/Theater, became a charter member of Concord’s Lions Club; was appointed to city council at age 21 -serving as Mayor in 1936 -37; was initiated into Pittsburgh Elks Lodge; and, being a volunteer fireman, was instrumental in establishing the Mt. Diablo Fire District, becoming a Fire Commissioner. Additionally, in 1931 Joe met and married Isabelle (Brooks) DeRosa, Originally from Alameda, Isabella had graduated from Mills College and received her Master’s Degree from UC Berkeley. As a biology teacher at Mt. Diablo High School, she’d had to resign to marry Joe.
They eventually moved their growing family to the Ginochio-Derosa House at 3800 Cowell Road and occupied the 10-room house until 1980. It is a Concord Historical landmark 8-12-87/38 and presently is a private residence. Joe had been required to resign his City Council seat in 1942 because the Cowell Road home was then outside the city limits. In 1944, he was appointed as United States Postmaster for the Concord area. Many small business had occupied the Concord Hotel/Majestic Theater premises prior to demolition in the 1960’s. Noteworthy among them were Traverso-Amighi-Matheson’s I.G.A store, G Crenna’s Fountain and Drug Store, Blaine’s Work Clothes Shop, Bill’s Taxi and Shoe Shine Stand, and Brunelle’s Concord Electric Store. Isabella DeRosa had managed the Coffee Cup Cafe between the 1930’s and 1940’s. Present street level tenants of the three-story Salvio Pacheco Building on the site include: Concord Chamber of Commerce, Earl Goldman’s Insurance, Irwin’s Tole Booth, Elko Salon, Suwa’s Japanese Restraunt, Celluar Exchange and C&M Stereos Unlimited. Joe retired from the Post Office in 1974: however, his intense activities continue; he is a charter member/Exalted Ruler Concord Elks Lodge organizer/Vice President Trail Ride Association, member Country Democratic Central Committee, Chairman Country March of Dimes, member of Holy Name Society and Knights of Columbus, President California Postmasters’ Association, and Grand Marshal of Pow Mow Parade. Isabelle is past president of B.P.W.C and Mount Diablo Women’s Club. The DeRosa children have followed their parents’ commitment to public service: Carol ”Jean” Marie (DeRosa) Phipps is Athletic Director at Queen of All Saints School; Margaret Gail “Jerre” (DeRosa ) Scott has been President – Martinez School Board; Isabelle “Jackie” (DeRosa) Martinson has been a legislative aide in Sacramento. Their eldest, Joseph Francis DeRosa III, is decreased. Isabelle and Joe DeRosa II still reside in Concord.