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The Rancho Los Cerritos

The Rancho Los Cerritos which translates to “Ranch of the Little Hills” is a 27,000 acre ranch house that was later on transformed to a public museum. It was formerly used as the residence of the “Spanish, American and Mexican families” in Southern California in 1844. The land of this historic site was part of the 18th Century Spanish land grant awarded to Manuel Nieto, who was a soldier. The ranch is composed of several adobe and Monterey-styled structures with luscious gardens which are all located at Virginia Road, Long Beach California (BeachCalifornia. com, 2008, Rancho Los Cerritos – Long Beach, California).

The architectural and at the same time historical gems of Long Beach represented the “cultural and physical modifications that have manifested in the state of California from the rule of the “Spaniards to the the Mexican territorial era and into the modern American period. ” This site is considered to be one of Long Beach’s National Historic Landmark. More so, the Mexican and Spanish inspired ranch houses were the largest and most exquisite adobe buildings constructed in the whole of Southern California during the Mexican era. Actually, there are two adobe ranches in this area.

The other one is called Rancho Los Alamitos which means the “Ranch of the Little Cottonwoods. ” This other adobe residence was built in the 1900s that functioned as a cattle ranch. After having several owners from Jose Figuero, a Mexican governor, to Abel Sterns who was the first Los Angeles Mayor, then finally to the Bixby family who turned the place into a ranch house with 18 sophisticated rooms. Later on, Rancho Alamitos was handed out to the local government of Long Beach which is currently open for public view just like Rancho Los Cerritos ( National Park Service, 2007, “Rancho Los Alamitos and Los Cerritos Ranch House”).

Moreover, Rancho Los Cerritos is a tourist destination that can educate and at the same time entertain visitors. The ranch caters to the different needs and wants of its patrons. It has a museum that showcases a wide-array collection of artifacts that illustrate the transition of California from being a rural area to a modern urban society. Also, there is a library within premise that provides quite a number of archival resources. In addition, the enchanting gardens serve as a relaxation device where visitors can lay back and enjoy the scenery (BeachCalifornia.

com, 2008, Rancho Los Cerritos – Long Beach, California). A visit to a place like Rancho Los Cerritos fosters nostalgia and astonishment because of the richness of its historical background combined with the aesthetics of the ranch houses and gardens. History of Rancho Los Cerritos Original Inhabitants. Many people believed that the first inhabitants of Rancho Los Cerritos were the Native because of the discovery of cogged stones in the area. But the arrival of people from the “Great Basin of Utah and Nevada” resulted to the displacement of the Native Americans.

The new settlers were able to construct almost 100 villages where they learned to harvest fruits and vegetables, catch marine life in the nearby “oceans and rivers and hunting” for wild animals. Back then in 500 A. D. to 1200 A. D. , their way of living was perceived to be advanced and complicated for their time because they already knew how to conduct trade, make technological devices, create a “rich oral literature,” initiate formalized birth, develop “rite-of-passage and death traditions”, and make their own religious beliefs such as having a “supreme being named Chinigchinich.

” However, when the Spaniards came to California, they were asked to relocate together with the Native Americans to nearby missions so that they can learn about the lifestyle and religion of the Spaniards (Rancho Los Cerritos, 2003, “Rancho Los Cerritos: The Roots of Long Beach”). Mexican and Spanish Occupation In 1542, California was explored by the Spaniards but they only settled in 1749 when they launched several land and sea-based expeditions to “establish missions, presidios (forts) and pueblos (towns).

” A Spanish solider named Manuel Nieto was awarded by the Spanish government with 3,000 acres of land for his military service and also to motivate others to live in California. After several years, Nieto divided his land into six sections wherein the ownership of the area of Rancho Los Cerritos fell into the hands of his daughter, “Manuela Cota. ” It is in this place that Cota and her family lived in adobe houses which they built and they also raised “cattle and crops as part of their livelihood.

” When Cota died, her family sold the ranch to John Temple (Rancho Los Cerritos, 2003, “Rancho Los Cerritos: The Roots of Long Beach”). Cattle and Sheep Era In 1844, John Temple transformed the ranch into a large cattle business. It was under his supervision that the two-story Monterey-style adobe was built. In this period, the cattle industry was little bit on the rocks but during the Gold Rush, it boosted the demand for more cows. But this surge was later cut short due to the occurrence of natural catastrophes such as intense drought and flooding.

Because of this unfortunate event, Temple decided to sell the ranch to “Flint, Bixby & Co. which was established by Thomas and Benjamin Flint and their cousin Lewellyn Bixby” for $20,000. ” This firm on the other hand raised sheep instead of cows in 1854. The sheep industry flourished that period under the management of Jotham Bixby wherein they were able to produce bulks of wool that were used for trading. By the late 19th century, the Southern Californian sheep industry weakened. To avoid further financial loss, Bixby leased some parts of the land to other businesses.

As a consequence, the land deteriorated because of lack of maintenance and proper care (Rancho Los Cerritos, 2003, “Rancho Los Cerritos: The Roots of Long Beach”). Renovation In 1930, a descendant of Lewellyn Bixby made a major renovation in the ranch. The remodeling was extensive because a lot of repairing was needed to be done in order to restore the beauty of the ranch. However, Bixby made sure that the adobe structures will remain undamaged. Meanwhile, Ralph Cornell was the man in charge for designing the landscape of the ranch. The death of Lewellyn, Sr.

‘s, son of Lewellyn Bixby, the family opted to donate the ranch to the local government of Long Beach. Then, in 1955, the ranch was formally “opened as a public museum dedicated to the history of the Rancho and the surrounding area”(Rancho Los Cerritos, 2003, “Rancho Los Cerritos: The Roots of Long Beach”). Features of Rancho Los Cerritos Collections of Artifacts in the Museum A variety of artifacts can be found in the museum of Rancho Los Cerritos that highlight the antiquity and the significance of the ranch in relation to the history of California.

There are more than 1,000 items of textiles and clothings between the years from 1830s to 1930s. More so, an estimate of 1,100 historic photographic views featuring the rancho and its occupants, and various maps, letters, deeds and other documents relating to the site, are exhibited in the museum. Some of the antique items displayed are a “California-style stock saddle of 1882, a Howe treadle sewing machine of 1872, a bookcase built built around 1871 in the Rancho’s blacksmith shop” and many others. The museum has also a an archive sections that stores all materials that are related to the story of the ranch and its owners.

“Original documents, maps, blueprints, photographs and sound and image recordings” are just some of the objects mustered to aid in research and to advance the museum objectives (Rancho Los Cerritos, 2003, “Rancho Los Cerritos: The Roots of Long Beach”). In addition, Rancho Los Cerritos had been marked as an archaeological site for a statewide archaeological survey because of its natural deposits of cogged stones and the presence of centuries-old trash pits. Meanwhile, the Research library also provides an immense volume of information regarding the ranch.

It houses numerous books on the history of California, decorative arts, museum studies. The books contained in the library are both “rare volumes and current publications” (Rancho Los Cerritos, 2003, “Rancho Los Cerritos: The Roots of Long Beach”). Garden John Temple was responsible for the construction of gardens within the vicinity of the ranch. Between the periods of 1840-1850, he created and nurtured a “colonial garden style. ” The gardens was filled with “grape vines, flowering shrubs, fruit trees, perennials, Italian cypress trees and black locust tress.

” These plants and trees added color and diversity to the garden. At the center was a Moorish summerhouse that served as a relaxation area for the owners as well as guests. In 1866, a drought plagued the garden so Bixbys installed a “water tower and a windmill” to provide a water source for the plants. Because of this, the garden gradually regained its lost beauty and lusciousness. But during the period of renovation from 1890 to 1927, the garden was ruined once again so the Bixbys solicited the expertise of Ralph Cornell, a landscape architect.

He was instructed to utilize all existing elements such as the trees and water tower and combined these with new features. He added a “subtropical orchard with a variety of avocado, citrus, macadamia nut, loquat, sapote and cherimoya trees, surrounded by a hedge of lemon and strawberry guavas. ” Also, a pond was placed at the inner court yard that served as the focal point of the intimate garden (Rancho Los Cerritos, 2003, “Rancho Los Cerritos: The Roots of Long Beach”). Conclusion The Rancho Los Cerritos is a historical site that can provide a glimpse and a journey to the early life of the people of California.

Visitors of the ranch can immerse themselves to the cultural and historical aspect of the place through appreciation of the adobe architectures, antique gardens and the years old of green landscape. Through this, people of Southern California can learn to respect and appreciate the origins and nature of their ancestors thus the development of a sense of pride for their roots. As a result, locals can even invite non-locals as well as foreigners to visit this historic site to spread the beauty and history of Long Beach, California.


BeachCalifornia. com. (2008). Rancho Los Cerritos – Long Beach, California. Retrieved May18, 2008, from http://www. beachcalifornia. com/rancho-los-cerritos. html National Park Service. (2007, July 26). Rancho Los Alamitos and Los Cerritos Ranch House. Retrieved May 18, 2008, from http://www. nps. gov/history/nr/travel/ca/ca10. htm Ranchos Los Cerritos. (2003). Ranchos Los Cerritos: The Roots of Long Beach. Retrieved May 18, 2008, from http://www. rancholoscerritos. org/index. html

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