|Spending a warm sunny afternoon touring the Jensen-Alvarado Historic Ranch and Museum was a trip back in time. Situated in the middle of Riverside, California you would never know you were in the city. At one time the ranch was over 500 acres but in 1862 when the family first settled in the area it was much smaller and Mr. Jensen continued to purchase land, it is now only 35 acres. He was a Danish Sea Captain and built his home from bricks like homes were designed in his homeland which in itself was unique for the area as most homes in southern California at that time were adobe homes. The home was completed in 1870 and is the oldest non-adobe home in Riverside County. The house is still in amazing shape and all the furnishings in it except the cook stove in the kitchen are pieces that the family had shipped in from around the world. The original wallpaper needs repair and 2 years ago the county spent $263,000 to clean and refurbish a portion of the wallpaper on the ceiling in the formal sitting room. There were only 3 bedrooms in the house, one for the couple, a nursery and the guest room. The girls all slept on the floor in the sitting room while the boys slept in the attic. He and his wife raised 10 children in the house. General Sherman stayed with the family in the guest room twice in the 1800's and as a gift gave the family the climbing rose bush (still living)you can see on the front porch. The acreage was covered with vineyards and citrus trees and was the 2nd largest and most profitable ranch at that time in what was San Bernardino County (now Riverside County). Mr. Jensen had 17 ranch hands and they were never allowed in the house but would come to the front door to receive their pay. Because the family was wealthy and kept a lot of money on hand, they knew they were targets for robbers. Mr. Jensen created a false step on the way to the attic and would lower one of the little boys down in a deep hole he had dug to keep his valuables. Today the Ranch is open to the public part-time and is mainly used as a place to teach children about the way life was back in those days. Interpreters in period clothing guide kids back in time helping them churn butter, cook tortillas on a wood burning stove and making ice cream with an old hand crank machine. Of course the kids get to eat the things they make. The day we were there we did not realize it was not open to the public and there were 3 groups of school children there. Lisa and Sally were so kind and showed us around and gave us a private tour after the kids had left. Getting a private tour from them was delightful and Sally even let me make my our tortilla which she then cooked and Mike and I ate with homemade butter. They were both such sweet gals and we really appreciated them taking time to show us around.