Our History

The Brea Chamber of Commerce has been the voice of the business community since its founding in 1913. A strong, dynamic business community benefits everyone in North Orange County. The Brea Chamber connects local businesses, service organizations and all levels of government to create an environment where people want to live, work and play.

Our commemorative video highlights the first 100 years of being the voice of business in Brea.

Celebrating 100 Years of Business in Brea


  • March 27 Chamber of Commerce hosts their first meeting at Olsen’s Café with 62 members, adopting the theme “Boost Brea”


  • Whittier Bus Line attracts outside workers to move to Brea
  • Road Improvement District is established to improve roads and create Central Avenue to connect Brea with Brea Canyon and La Habra


  • Ed Peterkin opens Brea Cash Market and uses his ice truck to transport children to school, later replacing his truck with a real bus for the school


  • Chamber of Commerce leads “Incorporate Brea” movement


  • Brea is incorporated and recognized as Orange County’s 8th city, with a population of 732
  • E.E. Lentz serves as Brea’s first “speed cop” by arresting all who broke the 15 mph speed limit
  • Edison lights up the streets of Brea
  • WWI pilots in training in Riverside often use the Brea Aviation Field to land, creating an interest in aviation for many of Brea’s young men


  • All but 3 families have automobiles; Brea residents were often the first to buy new cars
  • Mabel McGee is elected as Brea’s first female official
  • Chamber President Ed Peterkin leads Brea in many patriotic efforts during WWI, secures firefighting equipment, and is chosen to start the city’s first trash collection
  • Brea is one and a half blocks wide and three blocks long


  • Many doctors settle in Brea and make a strong impact on the community during the flu epidemic
  • The Chamber coins the slogan “Oil, Oranges, and Opportunity,” helping Brea to win first place at the Anaheim Valencia Orange show
  • Chamber advocates for the creation of a “county free” library to County Supervisors, starts collecting books for the future library
  • Chamber assists American Legion to raise funds for war-risk insurance and veterans’ benefits
  • Brea Grammar School is ranked one of the highest in the country, with its teachers being paid well above the average teacher salary
  • Brea residents use water bonds to raise enough money for new water system developments
  • Michael George begins plans to build a Brea theater with the support of the Chamber of Commerce
  • Craig Building is completed and Chamber moves in, as does the American Legion, Post Office and shops
  • Brea students shift from covered wagons to a school bus for transportation
  • Red Lantern Theatre is finished, managed by Judy Garland’s uncle, and she often made appearances (Note: the theatre was later turned into an X-rated movie theater and then a Calvary Chapel church)
  • Resident baseball pitcher Walter “Big Train” Johnson becomes the hero of the World Series when he wins it for the Senators over the New York Giants
  • Big League baseball players Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel, and Walter Johnson agree with Anaheim and Northern Orange County Elks to stage a baseball game at the Brea Bowl (baseball field built by the Brea Chamber)
  • Brea gets its own telephone exchange after Pacific Telephone opens their new office at III East Birch
  • Chamber wins again at the Anaheim Valencia Orange show
  • Brea-Olinda Union High School District forms with 90 freshmen and sophomores attending
  • The $55,000 municipal plunge is finished, and today remains the oldest, continuously operating civic-owned pool in Southern California
  • The wildcat is chosen as Brea-Olinda’s mascot because it was a “fearful foe” and as a nod to Brea's roots in oil (a wildcat was an oil well dug in untested territory)


  • City Hall and Park opens, Chamber moves there from Craig bulding
  • Brea’s 14 year old Bill Griffith wins Southern California’s Soap Box Derby Championship


  • Girl Scout enrollment explodes with 98% of 7th graders and 99% of 8th graders joining
  • Chamber adopts formal bylaws, incorporatea and hirea full-time staff
  • Brea native and Stanford track star Paul Moore breaks the world record for the three-quarter mile
  • Brea resident Frank Burrill has an idea to teach driver’s education in public high schools, the 'Stanley Bill for Driver Education' is passed the next year almost unanimously
  • Gas is brought from Texas through a pipeline named “The Biggest Inch”
  • After receiving votes from 1947, Brea Mayor Emil Carlson (along with some Chamber and City Council members) meets with Metropolitan Water District officials to celebrate Brea’s water lines being supplied by the Colorado River.


  • Sister City Foundation is established to better understand culture and lifestyles


  • Brea enacts general plan, first zoning ordinance and master plan for water and highways
  • 57 Freeway funding is collected
  • Former Chiksan superintendent and Brea mayor, Charles Russell serves as chairman for the reorganization of the Chamber of Commerce
  • “Citrus Growers Inc” brings many citrus growers together since an average orange picker was only making about an average of one dollar per hour plus 30 cents a box
  • Brea’s 50th anniversary is celebrated with the Golden Jubilee and formation of the Historical Society
  • Mead family organizes a hotline for the benefit of abused children, which later grows into “For Kids Sake” -- a leading nonprofit agency specializing in the prevention of child abuse
  • Brea native Cruz Reynoso becomes the first Hispanic to serve on the California Supreme court after gaining recognition in the appointed role of Select Commission on Immigration and Refugees
  • Many of Kirkhill Rubber Company’s products go to space as part of the Apollo program


  • 57 Freeway is completed
  • Brea Mall opens with an ice rink
  • Brea Plaza opens
  • Hanno, Japan becomes Brea’s Sister City
  • Brea Police Department takes on the responsibility of providing services to Yorba Linda
  • Brea native Vic Aur wins his first Olympic medal in Munich for rifle shooting
  • Dexter Martin inducted into OX5 Aviation Pioneers’ Hall of Fame with others such as the Wright Brothers and Charles Lindberg
  • Arts in Public Places program implemented


  • Civic/Cultural Center opens, Chamber moves there from City Park
  • Norma Arias-Hicks becomes both Brea’s first woman mayor and Hispanic mayor
  • Sales tax revenue grows from $536,000 in 1974 to $2.8 million in 1982
  • Fender Musical Instruments opens a plant in Brea and operates from it until 1991
  • Randy Jones, a Padres and Mets pitcher born and raised in Brea, is inducted into the Orange County Hall of Fame
  • Brea Boys and Girls Club is founded



  • Downtown Brea is redesigned as community gathering place with restaurants, shops and entertainment
  • Brea recognized as one of the 'Top 5 places to Live on the West Coast' by Sunset Magazine

The next 100 years

By advancing innovative solutions that create jobs, increase local investment and enhance our region, the Brea Chamber of Commerce will be a catalyst for business prosperity. The Chamber will foster a vibrant and interconnected business community where collaboration increases capacity, education enhances ability and advocacy influences authority.

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