Wilshire Branch Library

Wilshire Branch Library

The Wilshire Branch Library is a branch library in the Los Angeles Public Library system. It is located in the Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles, CA. The branch opened December 6, 1920, in a storefront building on Second and Hobart Streets, across from the Cahuenga School. It was the smallest building ever occupied by any of the city’s branch libraries — a 12-by-24 foot space, with shelf space for only 1000 books. In 1922, the Board of Library Commissioners approved a motion to purchase a lot on the southwest corner of St. Andrews Place and Council Street at a cost of $7,350 for a new facility. Passage of the 1925 Library Bond measure provided $500,000 to build facilities for fourteen new libraries, including the Wilshire Branch.

Architect Allen Ruoff designed the new facility in the Italian Renaissance style. It is a one-story structure loosely L-shaped in plan, made of concrete tile, brick, stucco sheathing, and carved tufa stone trim and decoration. The building is surmounted by a low-raking mission-tile hip roof. The windows, balcony, balustrade and entrance details are the primary decorative elements on the exterior. The doorway is the most noteworthy feature of this facade. It is Lombardic Romanesque in spirit, and is based on the design of the Portal of Constanzo, Perugia Cathedral. The new Wilshire Branch was opened on August 1, 1927, at a cost of $56,000.

In 1987, along with several other branch libraries in Los Angeles, the Wilshire Branch Library was placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in a thematic group submission. It was designated a Historic-Cultural Monument (No.415) by the Los Angeles Cultural Heritage Commission in 1989.

Through changing neighborhood demographics, the Wilshire Branch continued to serve the community at its St. Andrews Place location until October 1, 1987, when it was closed as a result of the Whittier Narrows earthquake. On July 28, 1988, the branch moved to temporary quarters at 316 N. Western Avenue. Proposition 1, the 1989 bond issue, and grants from the Community Development Department have provided funding for renovation of the historic St. Andrews facility. The renovations, designed by Barton Choy Associates, brought the building up to code, and ensured that the facility has the capabilities to meet the demands of a new century. The renovated historic structure reopened on August 8, 1996.

Address: 149 N. Saint Andrews Pl, Los Angeles, CA 90004

Website: http://www.lapl.org/branches/wilshire

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wilshirelibraryLAPL

Branch History: http://www.lapl.org/branches/wilshire/history

Status: Active

Additional Resources

Architectural analysis of Wilshire Branch Library, designed by architect Allen Kelly Ruoff and completed in 1927.

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 the Wilshire Branch Library, ca. 1930s.

Hyers, F. H. (1947, March 27). Wilshire libraries serve as community centers and boosters of good citizenship. Wilshire Press.

Los Angeles Public Library. (1996, August 8). Grand opening celebration for the Wilshire Branch, Los Angeles Public Library, Thursday, August 8, 1996.

Maxtone-Graham, G. (1988, July 28). New chapter : 3 branch libraries shut by quake to reopen. Los Angeles Times.

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

Mearl, J. (2014, January 11). Nine Los Angeles libraries to resume Sunday hours. 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.

Staff-written brief history of Wilshire Branch Library.

Wilshire Branch Library: Summary (1936-1949).