Pio Pico State Historic Park to Stay Open Through 2012

This just in from the LA Times: The adobe mansion of California’s last governor under Mexican rule will remain open through the end of the year with $40,000 from the city of Whittier and private donors.

You’ll recall Pio Pico from Krissy Clark’s feature on the California Report in March.

Volunteers Kathy Rabago and Leo Fernandez help bring the past to life at Pio Pico. (Image credit: Krissy Clark/KQED)

Once upon a time in California, when the state was still a dusty backwater, the Fandango was the latest dance craze, and the official language was Spanish, there lived a man named Pio de Jesus Pico, the last governor of the state under Mexican rule.

Pico … was born in 1801, just down the road at Mission San Gabriel. His parents had walked there from Sonora, Mexico, with the Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza. Pico bought this land, what he called “El Ranchito” or “the little ranch,” in the 1840s.

Now it’s a few acres of grass and gardens surrounding his old adobe mansion, wedged in among a freeway, a working-class Latino neighborhood and various strip malls. But back then it was part of an 8,000-acre cattle ranch on land that was, in the course of Pico’s life, part of Spain, then Mexico and finally the U.S.

The Times says efforts to get L.A. County and surrounding cities to step in to operate the Pio Pico adobe failed earlier this year, so supporters launched a campaign to raise $80,000. They held an Easter egg hunt and collected bottles and cans for the recycling fees.

According to the deal with the state approved Tuesday by Whittier’s City Council, the city will add $30,000 to the $10,000 raised by Friends of Pio Pico, allowing the 41/2-acre site to operate through December. California State Parks Director Ruth Coleman is expected to sign off on the deal shortly.

hdpublicplaces-modSo that’s Pio Pico good for 2012. Now the park’s lovers have to raise another $40,000 to keep the site open through July 2013.

Coleman and I will be on KQED’s Forum this morning to talk about what happens next for all of California’s state parks. Be sure to tune in.

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Rachael Myrow

From KQED’s Bureau in San Jose, Rachael Myrow’s mandate is to cover politics, economics, technology and culture in a region that stretches from Burlingame to Edenvale to Fremont. She also covers food and blogs for Bay Area Bites. Her posting as Silicon Valley Correspondent follows more than seven years as the daily host of KQED's California Report, broadcast on NPR affiliates throughout the state. She continues to guest host The California Report Magazine and Forum, and files as a freelancer for NPR and PRI’s The World. Before KQED, she worked for Marketplace and KPCC in Los Angeles.

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