Bixby Knolls History – Rancho Los Cerritos

4600 Virginia Road Long Beach, CA 90807
Phone: (562) 570-1755

On the outskirts of Bixby Knolls, in the exclusive Virginia Country Club, lies Rancho Los Cerritos. It’s a little known, sprawling 27,000 acre historic rancho left over from the 18th century. Originating as a Spanish land grant held by Manuel Nieto, the last 200 years have seen the land parceled, sold, and developed into the many small communities that make up Southern California.

History of Ranch Los Cerritos Historic Site

Originally part of the 167,000-acre Rancho Los Nietos land grant issued to Manuel Nieto, the property was eventually divided into six parcels and sold off. In 1843, Jonathan Temple purchased a parcel and built the adobe house in 1844 as headquarters for his cattle operations. In 1866, Temple sold the rancho to the company Flint, Bixby & Co., which converted the ranch from cattle to sheep. Jotham Bixby, the brother of one of the company’s founders, managed and resided at the ranch from the 1860s to the 1870s and began leasing or selling portions of the 167,000 acres, which eventually became the cities of Downey, Paramount and Lakewood.

In the 1880′s, Jotham Bixby eventually purchased the rancho property for himself and raised his seven children in the Monterey -style adobe. Then in 1929, Llewellyn Bixby purchased the property from his uncle and made extensive renovations to the house, including a new red-tiled roof, electricity, plumbing, fireplaces, a sun porch, new floors and  landscaping. When Llewellyn Bixby died in 1942, the Bixby family sold the house to the City of Long Beach.

Tours & The California History Research Library

Today, the Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site is a public museum dedicated to educating the public about California’s rancho period.  The California History Research Library, a 3,000+ book collection on California history cataloged through the Long Beach Public Library. The library contain original historical documents, maps, blueprints, photographs and audio and image recordings directly associated with the rancho and its owners, occupants and workers. Plus, when you wander the site you’ll see more than 1,000 clothing and textiles artifacts from the 1830s to 1930s, and many rooms decorated with Bixby family furniture and antiques.

Rich History Inside & Out

Outside on the Rancho grounds are lush gardens and old growth trees offering not only shade, but a glimpse into early life in Bixby Knolls. And the earth under and surrounding the adobe is rich in historical archaeological materials with trash pits dating back to the 1840s-50s and cogged stones that are over 7,000 years old.

In the spring and summer, you can take tours of the site and facilities guided by trained volunteers and Rancho Los Cerritos historians.

Just don’t forget to visit the gift store before you leave.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the history of Bixby Knolls, I highly recommend visiting the museum at the Rancho Los Cerritos Historic Site.


Mark Shandrow
REO Broker-Associate
Shandrow Group

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