Helen Hunt Jackson Branch Library

Helen Hunt Jackson Branch Library

The Helen Hunt Jackson Branch Library is a former branch library of the Los Angeles Public Library system. It was named after the 19th Century American author Helen Hunt Jackson, born Helen Fiske — an American poet and writer, an activist on behalf of improved treatment of Native Americans by the U.S. government. An outgrowth of the Central Avenue Branch, the branch began operations in rented rooms at 2701 Central Avenue. Eventually, the Central Avenue Branch was divided into two branches, the Helen Hunt Jackson Branch and the Bret Harte Branch. The new building for the Jackson Branch was built at 2330 Naomi Avenue and was opened for general public in November 1925. The one-story Spanish-Mediterranean Revival style building was designed by architect C.E. Noerenberg with an L-plan and featured an inset tower with a hip tile roof rising above the flat roof of the building. The recessed entry was through this tower and the entrance doors were multipane. The side elevation featured a set of casement windows with inset twisting columns. Above the entry was a panel with a row of dentils which once had the name of the library. The smooth stucco walls and the parapeted roof were typical features of early 1920s buildings. At the time of the opening, the Los Angeles Times wrote: "Noerenberg, the architect, ... has succeeded in combining in this new library ample window lighting with sufficient wall and shelving space together with an attractive exterior. There is a main reading room 26 x 25, a children's room 22 x 23, a delightful clubroom for the neighborhood gatherings and kitchen and workroom for the staff" (Los Angeles Times, 1925-11-01).

In 1940, the Board of Library Commissioners announced that the Helen Hunt Jackson Branch would be converted from a branch library to a station, open only 21 hours per week (Los Angeles Times, 1940-09-10). In 1952, the library temporarily stored a collection owned by another branch,the Henry Adam Branch — 111 boxes of books, and furniture — when the latter was evicted from their rental property by owner H. W. Medin to make room for a meat market and delicatessen. Subsequently, the City decided to close the Helen Hunt Jackson Branch Library and substitute traveling branch service for the children in the library neighborhood.

It was the Helen Hunt Jackson Branch Library where the first African American librarian worked for the Los Angeles Public Library — Miriam Matthews (1905-2003). Ms. Matthews received her Certificate of Librarianship from the University of California in 1927. She worked at the Los Angeles Public Library from 1927 until her retirement in 1960.

In 1987, along with several other branch libraries in Los Angeles, the Helen Hunt Jackson Branch Library building was placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in a thematic group submission. By the time of the application in 1987, the building had already been converted to use as a church. As of May 2008, the building was used as a church operated by the "Asamblea Apostolica de la Fe in Cristo Jesus".

Address: 2330 Naomi Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90011

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Helen-Hunt-Jackson-Branch/103114993061955

Status: The branch library is closed. The site is now used by a church "Asamblea Apostolica de la Fe in Cristo Jesus."

Additional Resources

Los Angeles Times. (1925, November 1). Branch of Library to Open Soon: Public Admitted Tuesday to New Building at Naomi and Twenty-Fifth Streets. Los Angeles Times.

Los Angeles Times. (1940, September 10). City Library Will Curtail Service; Economies Forced by Reduced Tax Budget, Board Announces.

McGrew, P., & Julian, R. (1994). Landmarks of Los Angeles. New York, NY: H.N. Abrams.

Little Known Black Librarian Facts website. Miriam Matthews and the Los Angeles Public Library.

Soter, B. D., Muench, J., & Library Foundation of Los Angeles. (1993). The light of learning: An illustrated history of the Los Angeles Public Library. Los Angeles, CA: Library Foundation of Los Angeles.

Valenzuela, R., The Historical Society of Southern California. (2010, December 8). Helen Hunt Jackson: Biography.