Tuesday, April 01, 2014

A Tour Through the Renovated Brand Library, One of Glendale's Crown Jewels

Brand library

Glendale's Brand Library & Art Center re-opened this weekend after a two-year renovation that gave the old mansion-turned-library a beautiful and much-needed makeover. One of Glendale's founders, Leslie Brand, called it home -- and now it's one of Glendale's classiest attractions. Some history:

The Brand Library is housed in the mansion Brand built in 1904 named El Miradero. A gallery and recital hall was added in 1969. Located in Brand Park, high in the foothills overlooking Glendale and the San Fernando Valley, the Library serves an ever-widening public interested in the arts.

The design of El Miradero is similar to the East Indian Pavilion built for the 1893 Columbian World Exposition held in Chicago and visited by Brand. The architecture is considered Saracenic, with crenellated arches, bulbous domes and minars combining characteristics of Spanish, Moorish, and Indian styles.

Brand died in the house in 1925. He bequeathed El Miradero to the city and Mrs. Brand lived in the house until her death in 1945. The will provided that the property be used exclusively for a public park and library. By 1956 the mansion had been converted into Brand Library. Years later, in response to the need for more arts space, the City Council allocated funds to construct an addition to Brand Library that would include facilities for art exhibitions, lectures and concerts, as well as art and craft studios. The new addition was dedicated in October 1969.

Brand library

Some pics I took while touring the Brand during its grand re-opening celebration this weekend:

Brand library
Paintings of Leslie Brand and his wife hang on opposite sides of the front door (which is actually no longer used as the Brand Library entrance).

Brand library
Before the renovation, these rooms were filled with books. Now they've been restored to sitting areas and a bit more reminiscent of how the house once was.

Brand library
A replica of the fireplace that once sat here, facing the front door. Prior to the renovation, the checkout table sat here.

Brand library
These pocket doors were restored as part of the renovation.

Brand library
The well-lit center of the house/library.

Brand library
Workers found this tapestry rolled up and collecting dust in the basement, where it sat there for decades.

Brand library
Light fixtures that are close replicas to the originals.

Brand library
No, this is not Leslie Brand, and library officials aren't quite sure who it was, but perhaps the original painters adorned this portrait on the ceiling in honor of someone. But who?

Brand library
Above the entrance fireplace, Brand's initials "LB" are restored on the ceiling. Brand's wife had them removed after his death -- perhaps she wasn't too thrilled to discover that her husband had several illegitimate children.

Brand library
Ceiling detail. Unfortunately, this is a replica, rather than the original restored. Unfortunately, the original ceiling -- hidden for decades behind a 1950s-era popcorn ceiling -- was damaged far beyond repair. But it's quite a nice replica.

Brand library
This fireplace, in one of the sitting rooms, is indeed the original, and nicely restored.

Brand library
Staircase to the upstairs. But because it's not ADA compliant, it's off limits to patrons.

Brand library
Paintings in the Brand Gallery.

Brand library
Also in the Brand Gallery.

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