John Muir Branch Library

John Muir Branch Library

The John Muir Branch Library is a branch library of the Los Angeles Public Library system in Los Angeles, CA. It was built in South-Central Los Angeles in 1930 based on a design by architect Henry F. Withey. The John Muir Branch Library was named after the Scottish-American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. It is a one-story brick structure with a symmetrical facade designed in the Italian Renaissance style. The central entry made of Indiana limestone has an arched opening surrounded by quions and flanked by engaged Doric columns. Set above the columns are triglyphs and metopes and a narrow cornice. The entry terminates in a broken pediment with a large cartouche of an open book surrounded by acanthus leaves. On each side of the entry are three sets of paired metal-sash casement windows set beneath limestone lintels with a floral pattern. Below the tile roof the brick is laid at an angle forming a narrow cornice. The side facades have full-length paired metal-sash casement windows which are recessed into arches. An engaged Levanto marble Corinthian column separates the windows, above which are limestone panels with floral patterns. A marble medallion appears above the arches which are outlined by decorative surrounds.

The John Muir Branch was designated a Historic-Cultural Monument (No.305) by the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission in 1986. In 1987, along with several other branch libraries in Los Angeles it was placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in a thematic group submission.

The historic building of the John Muir Branch Library was burned to the ground following the announcement of the verdict in the Rodney King beating trial. In 1992, it received funds awarded by The J. Paul Getty Trust — a $350,000 matching grant to the Los Angeles Public Library to replace books at two branch libraries destroyed in the riots. Arson at the John Muir Branch Library, 6001 S. Vermont Ave., and the Junipero Serra Branch Library, 4301 S. Figueroa St., destroyed more than $700,000 worth of books and other library materials, library officials said. Because their original sites did not meet earthquake standards, John Muir and Junipero Serra had been operating in leased mini-mall locations. The John Muir Branch returned to its historic site upon completion of the renovation project in 1997.

Address: 1005 W 64th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90044



Status: Active

Additional Resources

City of Los Angeles, Department of City Planning (2007, September 7). Historic-Cultural Monuments (HCM) Listing: City Declared Monuments.

Front entrance to the John Muir Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library, 1930. USC Digital Library. USC Libraries Special Collections.

Figenshow, S., Morris McNeill, Inc., & Los Angeles (Calif.). (1990). Historic cultural monuments: A review of historical monuments to identify potential cultural facilities. Los Angeles, CA.: City of Los Angeles, Cultural Affairs Dept.

Los Angeles Times. (June 18, 1992). After the Riots: Rebuilding grant awarded to library branches.

Los Angeles Times (1929, May 2). Library Branch Site Bought and Plans Ordered

Los Angeles Times (1997, November 6). South-Central; Historic Library Branch to Open After Renovation

Martin, H. (1998, November 3). Library rewrites L.A. history. Learning: Branch that was shut down by Whittier quake and again by riots reopens with state-of-the-art facilities. Los Angeles Times.

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

Shippey, L. (1930, August 18). Lee Side O'L.A. Los Angeles Times

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.