John Temple started building an adobe house in 1844 as headquarters for his 26,000-acre ranch near what eventually would become Long Beach.
That house is much larger today as the centerpiece of the historic site Rancho Los Cerritos. The connected property, though, is a touch smaller — about 5 acres.
That's plenty of room to host a 175th anniversary celebration, though, according to Alison Bruesehoff, rancho executive director. In fact, it will host two — a free public party this Saturday, Sept. 28, then a gala fundraiser on Oct. 20.
"About a year ago, we decided to celebrate the rancho's monumental dates," Bruesehoff said. "It doesn't get much more monumental than this. The house is one of, if not the, oldest building in Long Beach. It is appropriate to celebrate the roots of Long Beach, and that starts here."
Rancho Los Cerritos is one of two ranchos in Long Beach designated as historic sites — the other is Rancho Los Alamitos near the Cal State Long Beach campus. Rancho Los Cerritos borders the Virginia Country Club in northwest Long Beach, on the edge of Bixby Knolls.
People can experience both this Saturday as the start and finish of the 9.4-mile Rancho to Rancho Walk, which starts at 8 a.m. on the CSULB campus. Rancho Los Cerritos will be the finishing point, with a big party waiting for walkers.
Saturday's walk offers 6-mile and 3.5-mile routes as well. It is free to participate, as is the rancho anniversary party. For more information about the walk and to register, go to www.longbeach.gov/ranchoswalk.
Bruesehoff said the walk will be the perfect beginning to the celebration. Rancho Los Alamitos was turned over to a nonprofit foundation to operate and develop in 1985; the Rancho Los Cerritos Foundation started operating that site in 2013 and is the midst of checking off items on its master plan for restoration.
"We hope to open three more rooms (in the house) in 2020," Bruesehoff said. "With that, we'll be about 65 percent complete. Once we have the money and ability to build the barn, that's when it will get to 100 percent."
Even while the planning, work and fundraising moves forward, events and activities continue to bring people to Rancho Los Cerritos. Bruesehoff said it was apparent to her shortly after she arrived that involving all the people who developed the rancho — not just the Temple and Bixby families — was a key. That turned into multicultural exhibits and events.
"We've always recognized it wasn't just the Bixbys and the Temples," she said. "We continue to work to find ways to celebrate everyone. That's why we've carved out a space in the visitors' center for exhibitions. First it was the Chinese, then the Tongva and now it is the Mexican influence. We will continue that."
This Saturday will offer many ways to celebrate Long Beach's heritage. The party is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The ceremony and day's events will include a Brewery Knolls beer garden featuring Liberation Brewing, food vendors, a 175th birthday cake-cutting ceremony led by special guest, Eighth District City Councilman Al Austin, live music by Long Beach Poly High School Jazz Combo and Bernie Pearl Blues Band, a live painting of the adobe home by Copeland Holt, tours of the house, a children's craft area, and the "My Long Beach" Youth Art Contest (winners to be announced at this event).
There also will be a birthday banner for people to sign that will remain on display through the anniversary year.
Everything will begin to build to the 175th anniversary gala on Sunday. In fact, work already has begun on custom-made picnic tables for the Oct. 20 event; tables that will be for sale ($375) after the party.
Sponsorships still are available for the gala, ranging from $10,000 down to $175 for an individual ticket. Honorees that night will be Margie & Frank Newell, the Junior League of Long Beach and the Port of Long Beach. For more information and to become a sponsor contact Tessa at 562-206-2048, or TessaC@RanchoLosCerritos.org.
Harry Saltzgaver can be reached at email@example.com.