Marcy Branch Library: Riverside City Landmark #124
Location: 3711 Central Avenue
Date Established: March 15, 1958
Date Visited: 6/14/14
According to the panel inside the new Marcy Branch library in “June of 1951, a committee representing the Parent-Teacher Association of Palm, Magnolia, and Jefferson Schools requested that the Riverside City and County Public Library (RCCPL) open a local branch to provide children’s material.” This would take time and money and so a temporary Magnolia Center Branch library was opened on December 10, 1951.
The Magnolia Center Branch Library was an instant hit and circulation soared, but there was still not enough money to build a permanent structure. Wanting to help Riverside’s youth, Charles Frances Marcy stepped in and made a very generous bequest to start construction of the library. More importantly, he lobbied on the library’s side and convinced city council to appropriate additional funds to finish the project.
The focus of the building would be on youth and would therefore require some new ideas. Undertaking the requirements, Herman O. Ruhnau was retained to draft the design of the building. Herman O. Ruhnau’s legacy comes from the many buildings he designed in Riverside. In addition to the Marcy Branch Library he designed the current city hall, the police department, La Sierra High School, and the County Administrative Center. For the Marcy Branch he chose a circular design that attracted national attention. From a design perspective it was genius because it allowed lots of light to go into the room, which saved on electricity. Also noted in the building was the use of beams, which was popular at the time.
In 2011, the City of Riverside decided to move the Marcy Branch library to it’s current address of 6927 Magnolia Avenue. The current building used to be a Automobile Association of America Office. The new building is two stories with about 18,000 square feet of space, which makes it vastly more expandable than the old library. There is no current occupant for the old Marcy Branch. It is hoped that in naming the building a city landmark the building will be preserved.
* Used by permission from the Ruhnau Ruhnau Clarke Architectural Firm.
** As seen in the New Marcy Branch Library.
Robinson, Alicia, RIVERSIDE: New Marcy library open for business, Press Enterprise, Riverside, 5/15/2011 http://www.pe.com/articles/library-612671-new-riverside.html (Accessed 6/12/14)
I lived in Riverside during my middle school years–’72 to ’75–on Carlsbad Way and, being a very bookish lad, I used the old Marcy Branch library on Central Ave with great frequency, to such an extent that it became a special place for me. It makes me sad to learn that it’s no longer a library, but I’m glad the building still stands and is evidently in use. I’ll definitely visit it the next time I’m in the area. (I live in Chicago now.)
If you have more old photos of the library, please do post them or send to me via email.
The old library was just recently reopened as a second hand store to benefit foster pets.