News / Community Treasure

Long Beach's Rancho Los Alamitos Wins L.A. Conservancy Project Preservation Award

Melloby Joe Mello Community Correspondent

(July 12, 2014, 8:55 a.m.) -- The Barns Area and Rancho Center of Rancho Los Alamitos will be one of eight 2014 Project Awards being awarded on July 31, 2014 at the 33rd Annual Los Angeles Conservancy Preservation Awards.

The awards honor "outstanding achievement in the field of historic preservation". Of the eight 2014 Project Awards, only two -- Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach and the Forum in Inglewood -- are outside the City of Los Angeles.

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The Project Award for Rancho Los Alamitos honors the completion of the relocation, restoration, landscape and adaptive reuse of five original historic barns. The two phase project completed the original Rancho Los Alamitos Master Plan approved by the Long Beach City Council in 1990.

Excavation work. Photo by Rancho Los Alamitos

Photo by Rancho Los Alamitos

Restored barn. Photo by: Joe Mello

New Education Center. Photo by: Joe Mello

When the Bixby family donated the 7.5 acre Rancho Los Alamitos to the City of Long Beach in 1968, the city demolished many smaller agriculture support buildings and relocated the larger structures into a circular arrangement. The Master Plan restoration called for a relocation of the buildings into a grid-like pattern as seen in a 1948 aerial photograph of Rancho Los Alamitos.

Photo by: Rancho Los Alamitos

The first phase of complete restoration that included fire and seismic upgrades was completed with a California Cultural and Historic Endowment (CCHE) grant. The CCHE is a state entity that awards grants to preserve and protect California's cultural and historic resources and sites.

The second phase was the completion of the Rancho Center with a new excavated basement under the original Horse Barn for administration offices, meeting and restrooms and the addition of architecturally matched new construction for a visitors center and a multipurpose education center. The second phase was paid for by contributions from the Rancho Los Alamitos Foundation as well as corporate and individual donors.

Photo by: Rancho Los Alamitos

Included in the restoration (as visible in the 1948 aerial photograph above) is an on site gas station. Four newly planted pepper trees were also added to two original trees to complete the original grove of six pepper trees also seen in the photograph.

Photo by: Joe Mello

The preservation project has also been lauded for being one of the first to use geothermal temperature control technology in the Los Angeles area. Geothermal technology was selected for the Rancho Center to have the least sound and visual impact on the site.

The restored Barns Area and Rancho Center opened to the public in June of 2012.

Basement administration center. Photo by: Joe Mello

In addition to the Long Beach Rancho Los Alamitos and the Inglewood Forum, the other 2014 Los Angeles Conservancy Project Awards in the City of Los Angeles are: the Ace Hotel and Theater; the Bob Hope Patriotic Hall; the CDI Early Learning Center; the Dunbar Hotel; the Hercules Campus; and the Joseph L. Starr Dairy Farmhouse. The Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angles is being honored with the 2014 Los Angeles Conservancy President's Award.

Long Beach's Rancho Los Alamitos is located at 6400 E. Bixby Hill Rd., a bit southeast of CSULB. The site is [Rancho website text] "twice listed on the National Register of Historic Places - once as the sacred Tongva village of Povuu'ngna, the traditional birthplace of the native people of the Los Angeles Basin and, second, for the evolution of its significant historic landscape over time. The site includes traces of the ancestral village, an adobe-core ranch house ca.1800, four acres of lush historic gardens developed during the 1920s and 30s, and the restored working ranch barnyard of the early-mid 20th century. With the opening of the Rancho Center, the film, new exhibits and room environments feature the landscape, the people and the place over time and within the context of the development of the region and the state."

The Rancho website indicates it's open to the public Wednesday - Sunday 1-5 p.m.

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