If members of a local historical group get their way, Universal City will have another major tourist attraction in the restored ranch of Campo de Cahuenga--site of the treaty signing that ended the Mexican-American War and paved the way for California to join the union.
Though overshadowed by the Universal Studios complex across the street, the site at 3919 Lankershim Blvd. was host to about 100 visitors Sunday who viewed a re-enactment of the treaty signing of Jan. 13, 1847.
"People don't know about this place," said Guy Weddington McCreary, president of the Campo de Cahuenga Memorial Assn. "We want to put it on the map."
Although the turnout for the event disappointed the sponsors, some visitors traveled from as far as Orange County to celebrate the histories of Mexico and California.
"The kids are learning about California history in school and we brought them here to reinforce what they've been learning," said Cathy and Steve Freeman of Anaheim, who brought their two children and three nieces and nephews.
The men who negotiated the treaty, U.S. Army Officer John C. Fremont and Gen. Andres Pico, the last Mexican governor of California--then a province of Mexico--were portrayed by actors wearing period costumes.
In 1847, Pico, in keeping with the Mexican tradition of celebrating after important events, held a fiesta. On Sunday, the Russek Spanish Fiesta Dancers performed Spanish and Mexican dances after the re-enactment to kick off the celebration.
The crowd was treated to refreshments and a tour of the house, which was restored in the 1950s.
A water fountain on the house lawn features a plaque honoring Donna Bernarda Ruiz, the bilingual interpreter who helped the Mexican and American generals write the treaty.
Though the association has held indoor celebrations each January for the past 44 years, McCreary said Sunday's festivities marked the beginning of spring and fall celebrations, complete with the re-enactment.
The association is soliciting funding from MCA Inc., a member of its board, to help update the exhibition hall, provide parking for the site and help turn it into a major tourist attraction.
"This is going to be a great struggle, but one that is way overdue," McCreary said.