Friday, September 10, 2010

William Rheem (1862-1919) - Built Chevron Refinery

Garden 8, Tier 1, Vault 162

William Rheem is third from the left

William Rheem's Vault -Photo by Michael Colbruno
William S. Rheem (1862 – April 19, 1919), was and executive with Standard Oil in Chicago before being tranfered to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1901. That same year, Augustine Macdonald, the founder of Richmond, convinced William Rheem to buy some old farmland north of Point Richmond. Rheem needed to replace a refinery in Alameda that couldn’t be expanded due to the limited availability of land.

Within eight months Rheem completed construction of what is now the Chevron Refinery and transformed the rural area into a company town. A year after it opened the refinery was producing 10,000 barrels of petroleum. In 1902, Rheem opened the Richmond Belt Line Railrod to provide service to the bustling refinery.

After the refinery was completed, Rheem remained as the superintendent. Chevron remains the largest employer in Richmond to this day.

Rheem Creek a small river in the Hilltop District and Rheem Avenue in the Central Richmond District are named in his honor.

Rheem died of a heart attack in a restaurant on his way to Santa Cruz with his family.


Bernard Johnson said...

Great addition to this site, and would just like to mention that the "Rheem" area of Moraga was where the Rheem ranch was, and Rheem Blvd is named after him as well.

Anonymous said...

I believe the Rheem area of Moraga and all things named "Rheem" in that area are named after W.S. Rheem's son Donald Laird Rheem who was a successful businessman in his own right, he and his brother Richard started the Rheem manufacturing company Donald Rheem purchased a lot of land in the Rheem Valley and was responsible for developing the shopping centers in Moraga and Theatre Square in Orinda. His beliefs were that if he built these shopping centers then more people would come to live in the area. He purchased the land and built a home in Moraga because his wife loved riding horses, so they moved from Alameda to Moraga.