Malabar Branch Library

Malabar Branch Library

The Malabar Branch Library is a branch library of the Los Angeles Public Library system located in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA. The Malabar Branch began in 1914 as a book depository in a Sunday school room at the Brooklyn Heights Methodist Church on the corner of Evergreen Avenue and Malabar Street. The original collection consisted of approximately 900 books that were checked out on the honor system. In 1925, a bond issue was passed by Los Angeles voters providing funds for the construction of 14 new branch libraries, including the current Malabar Branch. Construction on the new Mediterranean Revival-Spanish Colonial Revival building started in 1926, and the new library was opened in May 1927.

The building was designed by architect William Lee Woollett. Stylistically recalling masonry buildings of rural Latin America, fieldstones were used in the foundations and the threshold, in a waiving pattern with untroweled joints. The building is set back from the street and has a side-gable plan with a prominent gabled tile roof. Leading to the recessed entry are two sets of steps separated by a scored concrete walkway. The steps have wrought-iron railings and are flanked by coarse fieldstone planters. On the building's facade are six multi-paned metal-sash casement windows with extended concrete lintels with a decorative motif. Above each window is a medallion and just east of the entry is an identification plaque. Inside the wood paneled double doors is a small brick vestibule. A fireplace is on the west side and a hand-hewn wooden truss ceiling completes the interior.

The Malabar Branch was designated a Historic-Cultural Monument (No.304) 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 Malabar Branch was damaged in the 1987 Whittier narrows earthquake and was closed. The branch was extensively renovated and reopened in 1992 with separate reading rooms for adults and children, a multipurpose room and a patron services room.

Address: 2801 Wabash Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90033



Branch History:

Status: Active

Additional Resources

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

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.

History of Malabar Branch, 1936-1949.

History of Malabar Branch, 1949, written by the staff of the branch.

History of Malabar Branch, 1949-1959.

History of Malabar Branch, 1959-1969.

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

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.