Cattlemen, Businessmen, Cultural Activists
Activities of the Keller family have impacted on many facets of Concord’s development. John Henry and his wife Celestia purchased a large cattle ranch on the outskirts of Concord from Don Salvio Pacheco in 1871. From here they supplied family butcher shops and Meat Markets. Several of their nine children have made noteworthy contributions to Concord’s history: Walter operated one of his father’s butcher shops: a daughter-in-law, Elodia (Liberty) was Concord’s first art teacher; George was an early pharmacist, the first Town Clerk, and Wells Fargo Express Agent; and Paul became a central figure in downtown development between 1910-1950. Born in 1884, Paul attended local public schools. He and his wife, Marie Easie Keller, had five children: Lucille, Jean, Paul Jr., Beth and Hope; all were educated and raised in Concord. Keller House, originally was Charles and Elodia Keller’s home. After they moved to a large ranch near Clayton in the early 1900s. Paul and Marie occupied the house at 2035 Clay ton Road (corner of Clayton Road -Galindo Street) until Marie’s death in 1975. The house was then converted to a Real Estate Office. Using federal Housing and Community Development Funds, the House was authentically restored and ultimately moved to it’s present Ellis Lake Park location at 1700 Clayton Road (south side). It received a design excellence award for restoration of a historic building. The City of Concord uses the facility to support community services activities; it is Concord Historical Landmark 1-25-84/21. Paul Keller Sr. successfully applied his early ranch experience to the new hardware and nursery he had opened on Salvio Street (north side) between Mt. Diablo and Galindo Streets. After the disastrous 1917 fire across the street, Keller arranged with M. E. Lyons to obtain a huge “L-shaped” facility in the new bank and commercial building.
The P. L. Keller Company opened facing on Salvio Street (south side) where for years it remained a fixture for every contractor, homeowner, and
sportsman in the area. Keller later opened a grocery store – bakery In the Mt. Diablo Street store front access; then sold this business to Walter Lewis and Amador Regalia. (This space is currently occupied by the Woung Luang Thal Restaurant.) For a short time Keller also operated a Ford Agency further south on Salvio Street. San, Paul Jr., joined the business in 1933; by the 1950’s Manual Costa became a partner. Also during the 1950s, the Kellers moved the store to the southeast corner of Salvio and Grant Street adjacent to the Enean Theater. The site is currently occupied by the Hot Dog Palace. Later Paul Jr. and his wife Margaret moved the store to 1770 Galindo Street. After their retirement, Gary L. Harris bought the business, ultimately returning it to its original south side Salvio location; the business closed in the mid-1980’s. The site is currently occupied by International Discount Golf. The senior Paul Keller’s civic and cultural contributions to Concord are many. It was his idea to replace the decaying Eucalyptus trees in the Plaza with a Redwood Pergola; he supervised the planting of the many initial Wisterta varieties by the Native Daughters and Mt. Diablo Women’s Clubs. He established the Diablo Men’s Garden Club, and was founder and 25 year president of the Concord Gun Club. He also was one of the original 13 founders of the Concord Chamber of Commerce. Paul L. Keller Sr. was Concord City Clerk between 1910-1914; he died in 1954.