Washington Irving Branch Library


Washington Irving Branch Library

The Washington Irving Branch Library is a branch in the Los Angeles Public Library system. It is located west of downtown Los Angeles, CA. The original library building was designed by architect firm Allison and Allison in Mediterranean style. It has a rectangular plan with side-facing gables, a symmetrical front elevation, a tiled roof and a bay window on the east side. The exterior treatment is a combination of brick and plaster with the brick banding extending between the windows reminiscent of a treatment frequently seen in the brickwork of Lombardy and Tuscany. The long paved terrace with its metal railing extends the entire length of the building giving entrance from both streets. The brick on the front terrace is laid in a herringbone pattern. The cost of building, equipment and furniture was $37,063; two lots of land were purchased, at the total cost of $13,750. The library was open for service on December 13, 1926, but the formal opening program was given on January 10, 1927.


The library quickly became a vital part of the local community. The greatest monthly circulation in the prewar period was 20,064, in August 1932, at the peak of depression, when more people had more time to read. The Washington Irving Branch was designated a Historic-Cultural Monument (No.307) 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.


In June 1990, the Los Angeles Library Commission voted to close the old library and re-open the Washington Irving Branch in a different location. The library commission agreed in 1991 not to move the Irving branch from its historic Mid-City home of 65 years until a new tenant could be found to take over the building. Despite the promises, a new tenant or use was not found. The new Washington Irving Branch opened in 2000, and the old branch on Arlington Avenue has been vacant, boarded up, and fenced for many years.


Address: 1802 Arlington Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019


Website: http://www.lapl.org/branches/washington-irving


Facebook (landmark): https://www.facebook.com/pages/Washington-Irving-Branch/107698799260150


Status: Relocated to 4117 W. Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90018. The original site is now vacant and closed.


Additional Resources

Branch History (1959-1969).

Brooks, M.D., Branch Librarian, Los Angeles Public Library. (1977). Washington Irving Branch celebrates 50th anniversary.

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

De Vereaux, A. (1990, May 8). Washington Irving Branch Library. Los Angeles Times.

Feldman, P. (1990, March 21). Extending a shelf life : Mid-City library's patrons would rather see branch upgraded than replaced. Los Angeles Times.

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 Washington Irving Branch Library, prepared June 30, 1936.

Los Angeles Public Library. Branch building questionnaire. Annual report 1939/40 (Information sheet on construction of original Washington Irving Branch).

Los Angeles Public Library. (1997, August 9). Groundbreaking festivities. Washington Irving Branch, Saturday, August 9, 1997.

Los Angeles Times. (1990, April 27). The Little Library That Could.

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

Mitchell, J. L. (1991, June 7). Tenant will be sought for library architecture: The Washington Irving branch won't move until someone can be found to take over the historic building. Los Angeles Times.

Ramos, G. (1990, June 1). Panel decides to move Irving Branch Library culture: Despite protest, facility will be moved from historic location to a site occupied by a carwash. Commissioners call action `emotional and heartwrenching. 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.

Wagner, J. D. (1990, June 6). Library board OKs second site for branch amid public outcry. Wave Newspapers.