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History Day at the John Rains House

Families are invited to try life as early Californians lived it–beating rugs, making candles, playing with old-time toys, making butter, washing clothes, and other activities common in the 1800s. Children can even make an authentic adobe brick to take home. These activities will be taking place at the John Rains House in Rancho Cucamonga on Saturday, March 3, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This event is free is charge.

The day will include tours of the fired brick John Rains House led by members of the Rancho Cucamonga Historical Society, and family activities that reflect the life of the early Southern California settlers. Activities are suitable for children ages 3 and older.

The Mission San Gabriel established the Cucamonga Rancho as a site for grazing cattle in the 1820s. In 1839, the Mexican governor of California granted the 13,000-acre rancho to Tiburcio Tapia. In 1858 Tapia’s daughter and her husband sold the rancho to John Rains for $16,500.

In 1860 Rains constructed a brick home on the property at a cost of about $18,000. John Rains and his wife Maria Merced moved from Chino to the new brick house with their three children in the spring of 1861. By that time, Rains (a former cattle driver) was recognized as a rich and politically influential man, generous and well-liked, who provided abundant hospitality at his strategically-located Cucamonga home.

John Rains planted 160 acres of vines in 1859. Wine and brandy made at Cucamonga gained wide popularity. An earlier small vineyard and winery is said to have been planted by Tapia in 1839, thus establishing the claim that Cucamonga has the oldest commercial winery in the state.

Rains died in November 1862. In 1864, Maria Merced married José Carrillo and they continued to live in Cucamonga. The Rains House passed through several owners between 1871 and 1971 when it was purchased by the County of San Bernardino and became a San Bernardino County Museum Historic Site. The Rains House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The John Rains House is at 8810 Hemlock Street in Rancho Cucamonga. To reach the site, take Vineyard Avenue north from Interstate 10. Turn right on Hemlock, just north of Foothill Boulevard.  No admission fee is charged; donations of $2 (adult) and $1 (child) will go toward the preservation and maintenance of the historic site. For more information call (909) 307-2669 ext. 271, or visit


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