Communiqué from Rae

Rae GabelichAmidst the hustle and bustle of our urban city lies an outstanding architectural jewel, Rancho Los Cerritos. The rancho was built in 1844. The adobe ranch house and beautiful grounds are rich in the history of Spanish, Mexican and American California and the families who helped transform Southern California from its ranching beginnings. The grand Moreton Bay Fig tree is worth the visit all by itself. The site also houses a California History Research Library with a repository of rancho and California history materials.
Rancho Los Cerritos, located at 4600 Virginia Road, welcomes visitors not only to explore the past, but also to truly experience it. The key to enhancing this experience involves the introduction of living history tours, where visitors will meet a “visitor from the past,” an interpreter who assumes the role of one of the rancho’s many historic inhabitants and tells lively stories related to the themes of home, land and economic growth, and cultural diversity.
Visitors learn of the rancho’s cattle ranching operations from its builder Don Juan Temple, hear about everyday life from Ah Ying, the Chinese cook, or engage in debate with owner Jotham Bixby about the subdivision of his sheep ranch. These are just some of the characters that bring our only Long Beach national and historical landmark to life.
I was able to experience a taste of the “living history characters” when I recently attended the kick-off for their newest project called “Strong Roots…New Growth.” The rancho is embarking on this new campaign to further enhance and develop the experiences that are available to the public.
Today, more than 40 percent of the adobe is used to house the caretaker, store collections and provide office space, rather than being open for public viewing. More than 10,000 artifacts remain in storage due to lack of rotating exhibit space. The intention is to accomplish the following:
• Construct a visitor’s education center, patterned after the Cota Family Adobe to house exhibits, an orientation video, and a museum shop, costume storage and public restrooms.
• Improve the entryway to welcome visitors with new landscaping and better signage to increase visibility and an upgraded security system tied to the caretaker’s residence.
• Restore the arroyo by removing invasive plants and planting native vegetation. Also planned is the expansion of the California native gardens that flow throughout the Rancho Los Cerritos property.
• Construction of a caretaker’s residence to improve site security by relocating the 24-hour caretaker near the entrance of the property. This addition will release three additional rooms and the historic kitchen in the adobe for future public access.
• Restore and refurbish interior rooms within the adobe to support the living history program.
It is our “jewel” of the 8th District that I encourage each of you to visit this summer, either independently or for one of their many summer activities. I know that when you take this visit into our past you will also want to take part in supporting the efforts to enrich the Rancho Los Cerritos experience. Please visit the website for additional information.
Coming up this summer, we have the Second Annual Bixby Knolls Dragster Expo and Car Show on Saturday, July 28. For those of you who were around during the Lion’s Drag Strip days, this event will bring back many memories. There’s still plenty of room in the car show arena for those of you that want to display your “beautiful machine.”
It will be a day filled with music, food, booths and fabulous cars! Mark your calendars for July 28—bring your children, your friends and neighbors and enjoy another community event in Bixby Knolls! Our Diamond Sponsors this year are Toyota and Cosworth who will both have displays to highlight their 2007-08 achievements.
And, of course, don’t forget First Fridays on July 6. A great addition for our neighborhood experience—new artists will be featured and new musicians will play. Please join us for an evening stroll down Atlantic Avenue to support the efforts of our local retailers.
See you on the street!

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