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Rancho Los Cerritos reveals design plans for three new exhibits

Remodel will provide more space throughout the premises

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Photos by David Moore
During a special event June 14, Rancho Los Cerritos unveiled its plans for an upcoming restoration that will include the addition of three new exhibit rooms.

To most, the unveiling of the new restoration plans at the Ranchos Los Cerritos on Thursday, June 14 was just as it seemed, but for resident Jodi Miller Whitaker, the day was personal.

Whitaker explained in an interview with the Signal Tribune that her grandparents, Manuel Lieras and Concepcion Coronado, lived on the rancho together in 1921 after getting married and having their wedding reception in the adobe’s living room.

“The Coronados lived on one side of the adobe, and the Lieras lived on the other side,” she said. “My grandmother was about almost 10 years younger than my grandpa, so he courted her. She was here. He chased after her a little bit, and she finally got permission to marry him, but this is where it all started.”

From the 1840s to 1866, the adobe was an open cattle ranch. However, in 1866, the Jotham Bixby Company bought the land and updated the adobe rooms a bit. Whitaker’s grandparents lived on the rancho just before the historic remodel, which took place in the 1930s.

Bixby descendant Llewellyn Bixby II purchased the land from the company for one dollar and began remodeling the adobe to fit the current 1930s style.

The newest renovation plans include the addition of three new exhibit rooms, and , according to a rancho press release, the purpose of the restoration is “to illustrate what the rancho looked like in the early 1930s after Llewellyn Bixby II and his wife Avis purchased and restored the historic home.”

The rooms include the bedroom of Llewellyn Bixby II’s son, a living room and sleeping patio. A f ew bathrooms and closets will be remodeled to fit the 1930s style as well.

Rancho Los Cerritos Executive Director Alison Bruesehoff discussed how beneficial the restoration will be.

“The first big change brings me to archives,” Bruesehoff said. “As you can tell from the archives, the adobe is currently acting as a storage space. Administration offices are also taking up the closed north wing of the home. Currently, the adobe is only 36 – percent open to the public. Over the next three years, we will nearly double public access by opening up and renovating the rooms you saw this morning.”

Kim Bewowski, a volunteer with Rancho Los Cerritos’s Living History program, provides information about an upcoming restoration to guests during a special event at the rancho on June 14.

A new caretaker’s cottage was also constructed, in addition to the three exhibit rooms, to open up more space in the rancho by relocating administrative offices to the cottage and temporarily moving archives to the closed north wing.

“Only when this space is cleared out will we be able to see what it can become,” Bruesehoff said. “And that’s when the renovation works begins.”

Eighth District Councilmember Al Austin attended the unveiling and thanked those who voted for Measure A in 2016.

Measure A, Austin explained, is a sales tax to help fund public infrastructure.

“I worked with my colleagues to earmark one million dollars for the first two years of Measure A for capital improvements right here in Rancho Los Cerritos,” he said.

Austin stated that the funding will go towards upgrading the historic adobe and parking lot.

“The work is right before you,” Austin said. “Right before your eyes.”

However, the work does not stop there.

“This is your national, state and local historical landmark,” Bruesehoff said. “We want each of you to share in this cultural asset with the hope that it can continue to inspire learning, reflection, celebration and research as it has done for the past two centuries.”

The rancho has not only developed into a place where those in the community can indulge in local history, but it has also become a piece of Whitaker’s story.

“It’s a hidden gem,” Bruesehoff said. “It’s a hidden treasure, and a lot of people do not know about it. When the word gets out, and you tell people to come, it’s beautiful. You want to come back.”

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Rancho Los Cerritos reveals design plans for three new exhibits