Rancho Los Alamitos will honor Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe and his wife Julie on Thursday, May 31 with the inaugural Cottonwood Award for their leadership and support of historic, cultural and environmental preservation. The Cottonwood Award references the meaning of the historic site’s name, Rancho Los Alamitos or “Ranch of the Little Cottonwoods,” as the cottonwood was once plentiful in the area due to natural springs. Today, these trees can be seen in the Native Garden, with the newest “little cottonwood” in the restored Barns Area.
Don and Julie Knabe will receive the award during a fundraiser luncheon at Rancho Los Alamitos (RLA), 6400 East Bixby Hill Rd., where guests will get a sneak-peek tour of the new Rancho Center featuring the exhibition Rancho Los Alamitos: Ever Changing, Always the Same, and the restored historic Barns Area. Proceeds will support the Rancho’s commitment to keeping the site free and open to the public and providing ongoing educational programs.
“The Cottonwood Award is a symbolic way to recognize leaders such as Don and Julie Knabe who have made significant cultural contributions to the Southern California historic and contemporary landscape,” said RLA Executive Director Pamela Seager. “For cottonwoods grow near water, an element essential to all life, and the Cottonwood Award recognizes the vital contributions made by these individuals in order to nurture our most important cultural and community resources for future generations.”
The Rancho Los Alamitos Foundation, which operates the city-owned historic landmark, has instituted the Cottonwood Awards to recognize cultural and community leaders for their support of the Rancho and regional educational programs and cultural preservation efforts. Along with the 2012 Conversations in Place series, which brings together important thinkers for discussions about how experiences at the Rancho can travel through contemporary issues, the Cottonwood Awards are part of Rancho Los Alamitos’ commitment to supporting critical dialogue that illuminates the region’s rich history while championing the cultural present.
“Julie and I are very honored to receive the first Cottonwood Award from Rancho Los Alamitos,” Knabe said. “We are proud to have supported the Foundation’s restoration of this amazing Los Angeles County landmark. The new Rancho Center and Barns Area restoration are a terrific example of the public and private sectors coming together to preserve an extraordinary site for future generations to enjoy.”
In addition to live music, tours, and entertainment, the Cottonwood Award Luncheon will feature a ranch-style menu developed with Los Angeles Times’ food editor Russ Parsons and based on previous owners Fred and Florence Bixby’s original ranch recipes from the early 20th century.
The Cottonwood Award luncheon comes just days before the Rancho’s June 10 public grand opening, which marks the completion of an ambitious long-term transformation that includes the new Rancho Center and bookstore/classroom buildings, as well as restored historic barns and gardens.