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Rancho Los Cerritos Is Looking For Volunteers

If you have ever wondered about the history of the Cerritos/Artesia area, you really should visit Rancho Los Cerritos.

Brothers Thomas and Benjamin Flint and their cousin Lewellyn Bixby founded Flint, Bixby & Co. and began raising sheep in Northern California in 1854. In 1866 the company selected Lewellyn’s brother Jotham to manage their southern ranch, and three years later Jotham bought into the property, moving his family to the Cerritos adobe.

Toward the late 1870s when the sheep industry in Southern California was on the decline, Jotham Bixby chose to lease or sell portions of the property. By this time the town of Long Beach occupied the southwest corner of the Rancho. Eventually Bellflower, Paramount, Signal Hill and Lakewood were founded as well on Los Cerritos lands. Through a succession of tenants, the Rancho fell into disrepair through general neglect.

In 1930, Bixby’s son chose to remodel Rancho Los Cerritos for his family. Although the renovation was extensive, the original configuration of Temple’s adobe remained intact. Ralph Cornell redesigned the grounds for the family, incorporating the trees that survived from the Temple era. Eventually the family sold the house and remaining acreage to the City of Long Beach. In 1955 the site opened as a public museum dedicated to the history of the Rancho and the surrounding area.

“It takes considerable, time, money and resources to continue to care for this beautiful piece of local history,” said Laura Willbanks, Volunteer Coordinator,” We are currently accepting volunteers to help out.” The Rancho accepts volunteers only twice year, once for adult volunteers and once for high school and college aged interns.

Currently the Rancho has about 150 people that volunteer in the gardens, in the curatorial exhibits and inventory, volunteers for the general public called ‘house’ volunteers and as education interns.

Garden volunteers gather on Tuesday mornings at 8am to work on garden projects, including pruning, planting and getting grubby for the good of the RLC grounds. Curatorial volunteers work on inventory of the objects in exhibit rooms and Education Interns interact with schools in the new ‘Long Ago Long Beach’ program. Of course there are docent positions available that lead the public on tours, Living History volunteers that dress up in period clothing to entertain visitors and behind the scenes researchers who help find, set up and exhibit new areas. “It is amazing that we are only showing 37 percent of the Rancho, “stated Jennifer Rice Epstein, of Public Relations and Marketing,” We have introduced new activities such as the Craft Beer Fest, and then we have our very popular Mud Mania every summer.”

To become a volunteer does require training and commitment, however the Rancho is where the climate and culture of Southern California began, and is intrinsic to our heritage. For more information contact Willbanks through email at [email protected] or call the administration offices at 562.206.2040.

 

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