Susanna Bixby Bryant Museum and Botanic Garden
The 2,500 square foot Susanna Bixby House was built on the former Rancho Santa Ana between the years 1911 and 1916 and the surrounding botanic garden was completed by 1927. The house has since been converted into a museum and period home by the Yorba Linda Heritage Museum and Historical Society. The museum and grounds are open for docent led tours every Sunday from 12:00 to 4:00. The house was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.
Backstory and Context
Rancho Santa Ana began when Susanna’s father, John Bixby, purchased almost 6,000 acres from the widow of Bernardo Yorba in 1875. He used the land to primarily raise cattle and sheep and passed in 1887. The land was then divided between his business partners and his widow, Susan Hathaway Bixby. When she passed in 1906 the land was then inherited by Susanna, who had married Dr. Ernest Bryant in 1904, and her brother Fred. As Susanna spent more and more time at the ranch, she decided to have a permanent home built, which was completed in 1916. She then devoted much of her time to the creation of a 200-acre botanic garden to be dedicated to her father.
Susanna died in 1946 and the home remained vacant for years. In 1978, the land was purchased for residential development. However, the city of Yorba Linda acquired the house and some of the surrounding land and placed them in the care of the Yorba Linda Heritage Museum and Historic Society, which refurbished the home and returned the decedents of the original plants which had been moved to Claremont College after Susanna’s death.
Five rooms within the house have been converted into a museum that are dedicated to the history of ranching, citrus farming, water wars and bee industry of the area, among other things. The museum also displays Yorba family artifacts and mementos, baby mastodon jaws, Native American artifacts, and features a mini-medical museum. The rest of the home has been furnished to reveal what life was like on the ranch during the late 1800s through 1930.