The history of early Los Angeles settlers is preserved in a network of historic Missions and Ranchos, which, in addition to providing background on the Spanish settlement of California and a look into the way of life of ranchers and early politicians, provide some information on the original Tongva and Tataviam people of the Los Angeles basin. There is some overlap, but there are separate lists for LA Local History Museums and LA Historic Home Museums.
- Top Los Angeles History Museums
- Los Angeles Museums Overview by Category
- LA Museums A to Z
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428 S. Mission Drive
San Gabriel, CA 91776
The San Gabriel Mission is in the city of San Gabriel just north of Los Angeles in the San Gabriel Valley. Mission San Gabriel Arcángel was the fourth mission built by Junipero Serra in 1771 and is one of the best-preserved in the California mission system. Eleven families from Mission San Gabriel walked the nine miles to found El Pueblo de de Nuestra la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula, also known as Los Angeles. San Gabriel Mission is an active Catholic church with a history museum on site.
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10 E Olvera St
Los Angeles, CA
The Avila Adobe at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Site at Olvera Street is the oldest house in Los Angeles, built in 1818 by Francisco José Avila, who was Mayor of Los Angeles in 1910. The house is a museum furnished as it might have been in the 1940s. It is free to visit.
More on El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Site
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San Fernando Mission15151 San Fernando Mission Blvd.
Mission Hills, CA
The San Fernando Mission, built in 1797 is in the Mission Hills district of Los Angeles in the East San Fernando Valley. Mission San Fernando Rey de España was the 17th mission in the California Mission system. It is an active Catholic church with a museum on site.
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16756 Moorpark St.
Encino CA 91436
Los Encinos State Historic Park includes the last parcel of land of what used to be an Indian Village of the Tongva and Tataviam Indians known in this area as Fernandeno and the 1849 rancho buildings from the de La Osa Rancho which occupied this area after the San Fernando Mission was built.Continue to 5 of 20 below.
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23537 Calabasas Road
Calabasas, CA 91302
The Leonis Adobe is the original 2-story adobe home of Miguel Leonis, known as the King of Calabasas with period livestock, gardens and a vineyard. The site also includes the Plummer House, an 1870 Victorian home relocated from Hollywood and a wild west jail.
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18127 S. Alameda St
Rancho Dominguez, CA 90220
The Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum at Rancho San Pedro is the site of a Spanish land grant of 75,000 acres from King Carlos III to Juan Jose Dominguez in 1784. Dominguez was a retired Spanish soldier who came to California with the Portola expedition and later with Father Junipero Serra. The Rancho included the entire Los Angeles harbor. The land remains in the Dominguez family, which in a couple generations resulted in all daughters who continued the real estate legacy under their married names including Del Amo, Carson and Watson. The Museum offers free tours of the Adobe residence on every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday and also on the first Thursday an Friday of the month.
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4600 Virginia Road
Long Beach, California 90807
In 1784 when the Spanish were settling California, Manuel Nieto was given the southern half of the Los Angeles Basin as land grant. The land was divided into six parcels in 1834, one of which, Rancho Los Cerritos, was given to his daughter Manuela Cota. The original ranch house, later remodeled by the Bixby family, is now a free museum.
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6400 Bixby Hill Road (Enter through residential security gate at the intersection of Anaheim and Palo Verde)
Long Beach, CA 90815
Rancho Los Alamitos was another subdivision of the original Nieto land grant. It is located on the site of the ancient Tongva village of Povuu'nga, which is now in the middle of a gated community adjacent to California State University Long Beach. The site originally had a clear view to the ocean. There are traces of the original village in addition to the 1800 adobe, a 1948 horse barn and a new exhibit center. The museum is free.Continue to 9 of 20 below.
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Andres Pico Adobe
10940 Sepulveda Blvd
Mission Hills, CA 91346
The Andres Pico Adobe, built in 1834 in what is now the Mission Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley, is one of the oldest houses in the city. It was originally built for Andres Pico, general of the Mexican-California armed forces. It now houses a museum of San Fernando Valley history operated by the San Fernando Valley Historical Society.
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7643 Midfield Ave
Westchester, CA 90045
310-412-2812 or 310-649-6272
The Historical Society of Centinela Valley operates the Centinela Adobe Complex, which is owned by the City of Inglewood. It includes Ignacio Machado’s 1834 adobe, the first residence of the South Bay; the Daniel Freeman Land Office; and the Walter Haskell Research Center (also known as the Heritage Center) which includes vintage fashions, memorabilia and archives. Open Sundays 2-4.
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946 Adobe Ave
Montebello, CA 90640
The Montebello Historical Society operates the 1844 Sanchez Adobe museum, which was the home of Juan Matias Sanchez. the museum exhibits a collection of family photos and memorabilia as well as items related to the surrounding area and the First San Gabriel Mission.
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1120 Old Mill Road
San Marino, CA 91108
The Old Mill, or El Molino Viejo, is an 1816 2-story adobe grist mill that served the Mission San Gabriel. It was the first commercial building in Southern California. The museum houses artifacts from the mill, antique paintings and furnishings and an upstairs art gallery used by the California Art Club. Tuesday through Sunday 1-4 pm.Continue to 13 of 20 below.
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6003 Pioneer Boulevard
This adobe ranch house near the San Gabriel River, known as El Ranchito, was built by Pío de Jesus Pico IV in 1853 after serving two stints as governor of California in 1832 and again in 1846 before and during the Mexican-American War. It is operated as Pio Pico State Historic Park, open Saturday and Sunday 10 to 3:30 pm.
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2211 Bonita Drive
Glendale, CA 91208
The Catalina Verdugo Adobe is the oldest house in Glendale. It has been restored and furnished in the style of the 1800s. The grounds are open daily, but the house can only be seen on tours arranged by appointment with the head docent by calling (818) 244-2841.
The park is also home to the remnants of the “Oak of Peace,” where a meeting was held in 1847 that led, a few days later, to the signing of the Treaty of Cahuenga at Campo de Cahuenga (in what is now North Hollywood), that ended the Mexican-American War.
For scheduling weddings and events at the park, go to the park link above.
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Casa Adobe de San Rafael & Park
330 Dorothy Drive
Glendale, CA 91202
Casa Adobe de San Rafael was built in 1870 by Los Angeles County sheriff Tomas Sanchez. It has been restored and furnished with 19th century furnishings. It is open for tours every Sunday in July and August and the first Sunday of the month the rest of the year. The surrounding 1.6 acre park is open daily until dusk.
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15415 East Don Julian Road
City of Industry, California 91745
The Homestead Museum in the City of Industry includes a Victorian era house constructed around an 1840s adobe and a 1920's Spanish Colonial Revival mansion, La Casa Nueva. There is also El Campo Santo private cemetery, which houses the remains of Mexican California Governor Pio Pico and other pioneer families. The only way to visit the houses is on the free guided tours Wednesday through Sunday. The Museum Gallery and cemetery are open daily.Continue to 17 of 20 below.
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201 Camarillo Ranch Road
Camarillo, CA. 93012
The Camarillo Ranch was a land grant to Gabriel Ruiz in 1766 purchased by Juan Camarillo in 1875. The current three-story 14-room Victorian Queen Anne ranch house was built in 1892 to replace the original adobe that burned down. Tours are offered Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays for a fee, subject to availability.
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3919 Lankershim Blvd
North Hollywood, CA 91604
(818) 762-3998 ext: *2
Campo de Cahuenga is a historic site in North Hollywood, across from the Universal City Metro Station, managed by the City of Los Angeles Recreation and Parks. It is the location where the Treaty of Cahuenga was signed January 13, 1847 to end the Mexican-American war. The building is only open once a month on the first Saturday, but if you're interested in California history, there is some great information on their website. There is an annual commemoration event every January by the Campo de Cahuenga Historical Memorials Association.
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11901 East Florence Avenue
Santa Fe Springs, CA
Hathaway Ranch & Oil Museum is a combination of 5 generations of Hathaway family history and the history of the ranch and oil industry in the area on a 5 acre ranch at Heritage Park in Santa Fe Springs, south of Downtown LA. The campus also includes a Tongva Indian Village exhibit and a railroad exhibit.
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Adobe de Palomares in Pomona
491 E. Arrow Highway
The Adobe de Palomares was the home of Don Ygnacio Palomares, whose Rancho San Jose covered a large part of the eastern half of Los Angeles County. Most of the home has been restored and furnished as it was during the time of Palomares in the 1860s. Open Sundays from 2 to 5.