Long Beach contains two adobe buildings that reflect the physical and cultural changes which took place in California from the Spanish colonial period, through the Mexican territorial era, and into the modern American period. Rancho Los Alamitos (Ranch of the Little Cottonwoods) began in the early 19th century as a simple adobe building serving as the center of a cattle ranch. Later owners, including Mexican governor José Figuero, American Abel Sterns (the first alcalde, or mayor, of Los Angeles during the Mexican period), and the Bixby family transformed the building into an elegant 18-room ranch house. In the early 20th century, the grounds were planted with extensive landscaped gardens. The Bixby family donated the ranch house and grounds to the city of Long Beach in the 1960s. Los Cerritos Ranch House, a National Historic Landmark, was constructed in 1844 and is an excellent example of the application of the Monterey Colonial style to the traditional Spanish-Mexican adobe ranch house. The building was the largest and most impressive adobe residence built in Southern California during the Mexican period.
Rancho Los Alamitos is located at 6400 Bixby Hill Rd. and Los Cerritos Ranch House (known as Rancho Los Cerritos) at 4600 Virginia Rd., in Long Beach. Both sites are open Wednessday-Sunday, 1:00pm to 5:00pm. For more information on Rancho Los Alamitos Historic Ranch and Gardens call 562-431-3541 or visit the museum's website; for more information on Rancho Los Cerritos call at 562-570-1755 or visit the musuem's website.
Rancho Los Alamitos is the subject of an online-lesson plan produced by Teaching with Historic Places, a National Register program that offers classroom-ready lesson plans on properties listed in the National Register. To learn more, visit the Teaching with Historic Places home page. Other travel itineraries in the National Park Service's ongoing series include many historic destinations that you can visit online or in person. Each Discover Our Shared Heritage itinerary spotlights a different geographic region, community, or theme.