TwHP Lessons

Californio to American: A Study in Cultural Change

[Cover photo] Rancho Los Alamitos.
(Photo by Beth Boland)

[Cover photo] Rancho Los Alamitos garden.
(Photo by Beth Boland)


urrounded today by all the bustle of a metropolitan area, Rancho Los Alamitos (Ranch of the Little Cottonwoods) began as an outpost shelter for vaqueros (cowhands) away from the main ranch property. The rudimentary structure was situated on a small hill overlooking thousands of acres of open space. The land, with its natural spring, was once part of the Indian village area of Puvungna. Later, Californios, Spanish settlers in what is now the state of California, erected several small adobe dwellings in the midst of their cattle ranges. Successive owners made changes to one of these adobes until it was transformed into an elegant 18-room ranch house. Today, Rancho Los Alamitos provides a tangible example of the physical and cultural change that took place in the region from the Spanish colonial days through the Mexican territorial era to the modern American period.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. California
 2. Southern Los Angeles area

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. The History of Rancho Los Alamitos
 2. The Construction of Rancho Los Alamitos

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. Aerial view of Rancho Los Alamitos, 1936
 2. Site plan of Rancho Los Alamitos
 3. Floor plan of Rancho Los Alamitos
 4. Exterior views of Rancho Los Alamitos
 5. Interior view of Rancho Los Alamitos

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. The Ranch House
 2. Imagining Life at Rancho Los Alamitos
 3. Determining National Register Eligibility
 4. Locating Significant Local Properties

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This lesson is based on Rancho Los Alamitos, one of the thousands of properties and districts listed in the National Register of Historic Places.



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