WHEN THE TOWN of Todos Santos was laid out in 1868, it contained 20 acres divided into 19 blocks and a plaza. The center of the community, the plaza was bounded by the present day streets of Willow Pass, Grant, Mt. Diablo, and Salvio. Dedicated by Salvio Pacheco to the people of Todos Santos to be used as a park, it became the focus of the city’s entertainment and business district.
In the early 1870s, fast-growing eucalyptus trees were planted throughout the area. To protect the trees from roaming stock, a picket fence with turnstiles at each corner was built. As the trees grew and provided generous shade, the plaza was used for the community’s gatherings and celebrations.
In 1903, former justice of the peace John Burke obtained two large cannons from the old battleship U.S.S. Independence to ornament the plaza. The old war relics graced the plaza for many years, but they mysteriously disappeared in the 1940s.
Another addition to the grounds was a band stand, donated by the Native Daughters of the Golden West, and Sunday afternoon musical concerts became a popular attraction during the summers.
In 1912, the first of the many Concord Walnut Festivals was held here, and in 1917, a Carnegie Library was built in the plaza.
In 1931, the eucalyptus trees, suffering from ol age, were cut down. Civic groups staged benefits toraise money for a plaza improvement project – the idea of Paul Keller. An 800-foot-long pergola thought to the largest in the world, was built. Many varieties of wisteria were planted under Keller’s direction by the Native Daughters and the Mt. Diablo Women’s Club. For many years, a Wisteria Festival was held in the plaza.
In the 1950s, the plaza underwent extensive remodeling. The pergola, along with the wisteria, the library, and the bandstand were removed. In 1961 benches and picnic tables were added, and new trees and raised flower beds were planted.
The Downtown Property Owners Association downtown beautification program, launched in the late 1960s, also included plans to revitalize the plaza. At that time, the Concord City Council adopted Betty Beede’s suggestion that the plaza be officially called Todos Santos Plaza, commemorating Concord’s original name.