Los Cerritos Ranch House

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Los Cerritos Ranch House
Casa de los Cerritos, 4600 American Avenue, Long Beach (Los Angeles County, California).jpg
Los Cerritos Ranch House
Los Cerritos Ranch House is located in the Los Angeles metropolitan area
Los Cerritos Ranch House
Los Cerritos Ranch House is located in California
Los Cerritos Ranch House
Los Cerritos Ranch House is located in the United States
Los Cerritos Ranch House
Location4600 Virginia Road, Long Beach, California
Coordinates33°50′11″N 118°11′40″W / 33.83639°N 118.19444°W / 33.83639; -118.19444Coordinates: 33°50′11″N 118°11′40″W / 33.83639°N 118.19444°W / 33.83639; -118.19444
Architectural styleOther
NRHP reference #70000135
Significant dates
Added to NRHPApril 15, 1970[1]
Designated NHLApril 15, 1970[2]

Los Cerritos Ranch House, also known as Rancho Los Cerritos or Casa de los Cerritos, in Long Beach, California, was "the largest and most impressive adobe residence erected in southern California during the Mexican period".[3] Los Cerritos means "the little hills" in English. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1970.[2][3]


The structure, a Monterey Colonial adobe, was built in 1844 by merchant Jonathan Temple, a Yankee pioneer who became a Mexican citizen.[4] The house was once the headquarters for a 27,000-acre (110 km2) ranch; the major activity on the ranch was cattle and sheep.[5][6]

The land was part of the 167,000-acre (680 km2) Rancho Los Nietos land grant to Manuel Nieto that was eventually divided into six parcels, one of which was Rancho los Cerritos.[7] In 1843, Temple purchased the rancho and built the adobe house in 1844 as headquarters for his cattle operations. In 1866, Temple sold the rancho to Flint, Bixby & Company which converted the ranch from cattle to sheep. Jotham Bixby, the brother of one of the company's founders, managed and resided at the ranch from 1866-1871. Jotham Bixby, known as the "father of Long Beach", eventually purchased the property for himself and raised seven children at the adobe.[7] One of Jotham's children who was raised at the ranch house was Fanny Bixby Spencer, who later became known as a philanthropist, poet, and pacifist.[8]

Beginning in the late 1870s, Bixby began leasing or selling portions of the ranch, which became the cities of Downey, Paramount and Lakewood.[7] Between the 1870s and 1920, the adobe fell into disrepair. In 1929, Llewellyn Bixby (Jotham's nephew) purchased the property,[9] and made extensive renovations to the house, including plaster cement coating, a new red-tiled roof, electricity, plumbing, fireplaces, a sun porch, new floors and much of the landscaping.[7] Llewellyn Bixby died in 1942,[10] and the family sold the house to the City of Long Beach in 1955. The City turned the house into a museum dedicated to educating the public about California's rancho period.[7]

Operation as a museum[edit]

Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site was converted into, and remains, a public museum operated by the Rancho Los Cerritos Foundation in partnership with the City of Long Beach.[11] It is open for tours, programs and events on Wednesdays through Sundays. The house is furnished in a Victorian fashion as it would have been when Jotham Bixby raised his family there in the 1870s.[5] There is a visitor center with exhibits about the site's history from Native American times to the present. A formal Italian garden includes orange and cypress trees planted by Temple.[12] The center also features a 3,000-volume California history research library and a gift shop. The Friends of Rancho Los Cerritos support the museum and its activities.[citation needed]

The museum was closed for 17 months from 2001-2002 to allow for seismic retrofitting, removal of lead paint and asbestos insulation, brickwork repairs and modifications to improve accessibility for the disabled.[13][14][15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23.
  2. ^ a b "Los Cerritos Ranch House". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 2007-11-14. Retrieved 2007-10-13.
  3. ^ a b Charles W. Snell (February 6, 1967). "National Survey of Historic Sites and Buildings: Los Cerritos Ranchhouse" (pdf). National Park Service. and Accompanying 7 photos, exterior, from 1968. (952 KB)
  4. ^ Norma H. Goodhue (1957-10-11). "1st Century Families Meet, Recall State's Colorful Past". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ a b "Long Beach Rancho Los Cerritos Project". Los Angeles Times. 1986-08-21.
  6. ^ Jennie Douglas (1988-09-22). "10 Adobe Haciendas". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ a b c d e David Haldane (1989-07-23). "A Problem Preserved Rancho Proposal Would Trade Old Plaster for Older Adobe". Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ Cecilia Rasmussen (2003-01-19). "L.A. Then and Now; From Roots of a Socialite, a Social Activist Grew". Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ "Hacienda Status Changes; Old Home of Don Juan Temple at Rancho Los Cerritos Bought by Llewellyn Bixby for Residence". Los Angeles Times. 1930-06-30.
  10. ^ "Land Company President Dies; Llewellyn Bixby, Lawyer and Capitalist, Was Member of Pioneer Family". Los Angeles Times. 1942-01-27.
  11. ^ "Historic Ranch House to Be Opened to Public; Long Beach Ceremony Planned at Famed Los Cerritos Adobe, Now Under Lease to City". Los Angeles Times. 1955-04-03.
  12. ^ "L.B. Clings to Past With Tranquil La Casa del Rancho Los Cerritos". Los Angeles Times. 1958-11-30.
  13. ^ "Los Angeles; History Spiffed Up". Los Angeles Times. 2002-08-03.
  14. ^ Theo Douglas (2001-07-07). "Rancho Los Cerritos: Wait Till Next year Historic Bixby Knolls Site Being Remodeled to Make it Earthquake-Proof". Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA).
  15. ^ Theo Douglas (2002-08-17). "Rancho Los Cerritos' Rustic Charm Is Back - Historic Long Beach Landmark". Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA).

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