Pat Nixon Park
|Pat Nixon Park|
A statue of the late former First Lady Pat Nixon, for whom
Pat Nixon Park is named, with senior center in background
|Location||Cerritos, California, USA|
|Area||4 acres (1.6 ha)|
Pat Nixon Park is a neighborhood park in Cerritos, California, named for the late First Lady Pat Nixon (1912-1993). The 4-acre (1.6 ha) park occupies the site of the former First Lady's childhood home and truck farm, where she lived from 1914 until 1931, a Senior Center that now sits on the site of the home after it was destroyed by a fire in 1978, and the Patricia Nixon Elementary School.
The Cerritos Senior Center at Pat Nixon Park is a 27,500-square-foot (2,550 m2) public recreational clubhouse in Cerritos, California targeted towards the 50-and-over demographic. It was originally dedicated on January 29, 1994. The $3.5 million senior center is located within the park.
Development and architecture
The aging of the baby boomers in Cerritos and elsewhere prompted efforts to plan and develop a clubhouse type center that would focus on services to the rapidly growing senior population. Some qualities sought for the project included a place for senior citizens to socialize, participate in educational programs, receive human services, and enjoy recreational activities. The center needed to provide a focal point for community involvement.
Cerritos leaders agreed in placing the senior center in a relatively central location. Not only did Pat Nixon Park make the center more accessible for drivers, but the location also ensured that routes from the Cerritos On Wheels transit system to additional points of interest such as the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, Los Cerritos Center, the Cerritos Towne Center and the Cerritos Millennium Library would not require a significant commute for seniors who could not drive.
Wolff, Lang, Christopher Architects Inc. was chosen to design a building different from the city of Cerritos's ultramodern style tendencies. The developers decided upon an inviting, homey American Craftsman style structure with rustic river rock and wood framework and trellises.
The interior of the senior center offers two lounges and ample space for classes and activities, crafts, computer usage and matinées. A large tank with exotic fish and a World Hall for special exhibits were also included. Multipurpose rooms provided stages and kitchens for celebrations and programs. Outside, a park surrounding the center with patio and barbecue areas, koi fishponds and lawns completed the landscape.
In March 2006, as part of Cerritos's golden anniversary, a 5,000-square-foot (460 m2) wellness and fitness room was added and dedicated in order to help local seniors stay healthy and remain active.
Statue of Pat Nixon
The Cerritos City Council approved in April 1996 erecting the "life-size, full-body" bronze statue of Pat Nixon and selected Ivan Schwartz, who built statues of world leaders for the Richard Nixon Library and Richard's birthplace Yorba Linda, as the statue's sculptor. The dedication of the statue was March 1, 1997, and occurred at its current location, the rose garden of the senior center.
Pat Nixon's childhood home
The home Nixon lived in from 1914 to 1931 was situated on the corner of South Street and Ely Avenue. The city of Cerritos bought the property from Mrs. Nixon's brother in 1967, but the home was destroyed by fire in 1978. The bricks used in the existing memorial are from the home's fireplace and chimney.
- Eftychiou, A., & Cenovich, M. (2006). Cerritos at 50: celebrating our past and our future. Virginia Beach, VA: The Donning Company Publishers.
- "First Lady Hailed on Return 'Home': She Dedicates Park at Site of Childhood on Coast", The New York Times, 6 September 1969, page 18.
- Cerritos Senior Center on the City of Cerritos web site