Friday, September 30, 2011

Hill Avenue Branch Library

Confession: although the Hill Avenue Branch of the Pasadena library is my favorite, I've never been inside. I've judged this book by its cover.

The building, designed by Marston, Van Pelt & Maybury, is the oldest in the Pasadena Public Library system. It opened May 6, 1925, thirteen days before construction began on the Central Library, which opened nearly two years later.

I don't know if Sylvanus Marston was a star architect at the time but he's the one from the partnership we remember most now. He designed the Fenyes Mansion and the Curtin House (and many other fine buildings I haven't taken pictures of yet).

From the website:
"Located directly across the street from Pasadena City College, Hill Avenue Branch library is home to the system's Asian language collection. The collection features Chinese books, newspapers and magazines, as well as a fiction and non-fiction collection for adults and children in Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese. The Hill Avenue Branch serves three elementary schools and eight preschools in the area. Hill Avenue Branch is also used by students and faculty from Pasadena City College and Caltech."

They've got a lot more going on that I don't have room for here, so I promise if you'll check out the website I'll actually go inside the library next time I'm over there nosing around with my camera.

I hope you're enjoying Banned Books Week. Maybe we'll visit one more branch library tomorrow, what do you say?

Update: Thanks go to Diana for sending me this gentle correction: [Sylvanus Marston] "didn't design the Fenyes Mansion...; that honor goes to Robert D. Farquhar. He did quite a few amazing buildings around Los Angeles, as well; nice survey of them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_D._Farquhar"

23 comments:

dive said...

Now that's what I call a real library door!
Only trouble is you're going to look silly coming out of there unless you're toting Virgil or Plato … some dumb teen vampire book just isn't going to cut it. Perhaps they provide brown bags for the non-classical readers.

Steven said...

WOW ! They don't make 'em like this anymore. I can see why this is your favorite. It would be my favorite too.

Petrea Burchard said...

Gorgeous, isn't it? It's a small building, but the door makes it grand. I'll go there next time I need a classic and save the vampire books for the less impressive branches.

Bellis said...

You'll love it when you go inside - wooden beams, old-fashioned lighting, the lot. It's always busy, which is nice to see.

Speedway said...

Such a beautiful building, and that door looks impressively heavy, guarding/opening to the treasures within. No vampire books or "Enquirer"-like pubs.

There's no telling the treasures one will find at a used book sale. Years ago, I found a stack of horse stories by C.W. Anderson, who wrote and illustrated a long list of horse books. I read the first, "Billy and Blaze" when I was little, then quickly progressed through the entire series. Some books, mostly about Thoroughbreds were in the adult sections. Looking back on them, you could see how Anderson's drawing skills improved over the years, particularly the horses whose muzzles looked velvety soft and coats dappled and shiney.

And here's an area Carnegie library building, repurposed as a restaurant:

http://carnegiesrestaurant.blogspot.com/

Petrea Burchard said...

A debate goes on about buying used books because the author doesn't get a cut. But I say it's great for several reasons:
not everyone can afford $25 or $30 for a hardback and it gets people reading;
an author I'm hesitant to try at $30 looks good at $2, and I might just fall in love with that author's works and shell out $30 for the next one;
giving used books spreads an author's works around and that's free publicity.

Any other good reasons?

Petrea Burchard said...

By the way, did you see the link Julie gave us yesterday? If you like libraries, this will make you drool.


http://tinyurl.com/5ucpk47

Pasadena Adjacent said...

This is one of those situations where close proximity breeds indifference. Having spent much time parked in the church parking lot south of the library compounded with years and years attending PCC, I've never entered this library. To find out it' the oldest in the system is a surprise.

Susan Campisi said...

How is it possible that I've driven down Hill countless times and never noticed this library? It's gorgeous. I'll have to walk a dog or two in the neighborhood to see that door up close.

Thal Armathura said...

Petrea,
The Hill Street Library has the most wonderful painting hung over its fireplace by famous local artist Alson Clark. The painting is of a gypsy woman, very colorful, probably set in Spain, from the 1930's and I believe it was donated by Mr. Clark's widow to the Pasadena Library System. Alson Clark is a very famous Pasadena artist and his murals of life in Southern California can be seen today in the bank lobby located on the NE corner of Colorado and Madison. His studio was and is located on Pasadena Avenue NW of the Lincoln Main Post Office. Here is some information on Alson Clark at Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alson_S._Clark
We hope to do a thematic historic preservation nomination on him with Pasadena Heritage in the near future. He deserves it!

Petrea Burchard said...

I did an image search for Clark and now I'm excited. Thank you, Thal!

altadenahiker said...

I was just there yesterday! Pasadena Central didn't have a book I needed and offered to order it from their Hill branch.

No way, sez I. I finally have a reason to visit this charming place. Reminds me of those sweet small town libraries in the mid west.

Thal Armathura said...

By the way, 790 North Pasadena Avenue - This was Alson Clark's studio and may date to an original construction date of circa 1880's as a barn. We know it definitely was a later studio of Alson Clark, but we have not researched when this was built, large windows appear added later when it was converted into a studio, board and batten construction. There are many early homes in this neighborhood, as I'm sure you are well aware, but I thought this particular structure was of interest as a potential landmark due to its association with Alson Clark. Also, apparently this studio, in its present form, was designed by Alson Clark friend and famous Pasadena architect Wallace Neff for Mr. Clark. Be sure to swing by and see the interesting architecture, barn like, perfect for a painter of Southern California scenes.

Steve Scauzillo said...

I didn't know that about the Hill Avenue branch. I always thought the Central Library was the oldest. Great post.

Petrea Burchard said...

Hiker, you got to explore a new place and save the library a buck in the process. Hero!

Speaking of heroes, I have to start an Armathura file with all the info you've given me, Thal. I don't know if I'll ever be able to follow up on everything.

Thank you, Steve. I had never known or questioned, but the Pasadena Library website has all the branches listed with a lot of information about each of them.

Laura said...

When my kids were little, I would pick through the used book rack at Catalina Library (across from Longfellow Elementary). Since these are often books that are removed from the library shelves to make room for new ones, I was able to introduce them to many more picture books than I would have been able to without it. Picture books lead to juvenile chapter books, juvenile chapter books lead to novels and histories, and those lead to future bookbuyers. And future college students, who spend more on books in a semester than they will in years after they graduate!

Laura said...

I just checked Julie's link. I was so pleased to see the Beinecke Rare Book Library at Yale included! This amazing library has two public floors with several displays in glass cabinets, but no public shelves. The public portion is really just a shell made of inch-thick translucent marble "windows" to protect the books, which are on 8 to 10 stacks up the middle in a glass-enclosed capsule.

Julie said...

What a gorgeous building! The inside must be lovely.

Glad you enjoyed the link!

Petrea Burchard said...

I just took pictures at Catalina today, Laura. The workers are there, the renovation underway.

Julie, I hope everyone looks at your link. It's spectacular. I only wish I could make the pictures bigger. A world library tour would be a dream vacation, albeit a little bit painful because one can never read them all.

Bellis said...

The saddest library I've seen is the one at Pergamon in Turkey. It was the best library in the world, but the besotted Mark Anthony gave the contents to Cleopatra. They were kept in the Library of Alexandria, but it was later burnt down. Why do people burn down libraries?

Petrea Burchard said...

If you want to defeat a population, take away its history and its knowledge.

Ms M said...

What a wonderful building!

Vanda said...

Beautiful!!