Monday, April 20, 2009

Huntington Beach library, Fullerton & Norton Simon

There is a plan afoot in Huntington Beach to tear out the Main Street Branch Library (1951) and the surrounding park area and replace it with a bunch more buildings. Last week, the City's Historic Resources Board decided to send a letter to their City Council laisons asking that the site be studied more to assess its historical value. The Huntington Beach Downtown Residents Association encouraged this action and presented their own historical research to the Board.
The building clearly meets the age requirements for a historic structure, and it has certainly played a significant role in the community. I've even heard rumors that it may be the second tilt-up concrete construction building in California. However the facts of the case shake out, I'm sure there will be a battle.
With or without historical significance, it would be a crying shame to lose a very functional and attractive library as well as the only green spot or open space between Lake Park and the ocean.
Travis K. writes, "...One of our writers put up an interesting piece on how Norton Simon was ready to build his museum in Fullerton and how we lost it back in 1974. It would have been at the Hunt Library, which was designed by the famous William Pereira."


Bulldog 24 said...

From the "and so it goes" file...
The urban myths have long stated the City of Fullerton turned down
1.Mr. Disney (no "trashy Amusement Park" in our back yard)
2. Norton Simon Museum
3. Huge Sears Mall concept in the 70's which ended up in the city north of fullerton - "Brea Mall"
4. A college that ended up west of Fullerton in "Westwood"
5. A Charles Chapman planned Downtown that went to West Los Angeles about a "Mile" long in length.
Don't know how many of the above are true BUT I have heard of them repeated the entire 35 years I have lived in Fullerton.

Kanani said...

I made a personal trip to the archives in the library AND city hall. The plans for the museum are there AND it's also the delays are well documented in Norton Simon's biography "Odd Man In" by Suzanna Muchnic.

Sorry that in the 35 years you've lived in Fullerton, you haven't had the time to go check these out yourself.

Kanani said...

Here's the bio:

Norton Simon: Odd Man In, by Suzanne Muchnic

deann mcdaniel said...

so, what do we do now regarding the hb library? what kind of action can we take? thanks, deann

Kanani said...

There are lots of players: the city, the Norton Simon Foundation, and whomever owns the other Pereira designed properties now used by Grace Korean Ministries.

I think the first thing to do is raise awareness (as Chris has made a career doing) of the vision had by both Simon and Pereira. Without this understanding, doing anything is very difficult. The city has maintained the building as a library --part of the stipulation of Norton Simon when he died.

But the more people who voice an appreciation for the design --the better, in case anything in the future comes up that would alter it.

hillaryhildebrand said...

I followed your link here from Flickr. Don't think I'm a stalker, it's just that I've just moved to Texas and I find myself feeling awfully nostalgic for images of Huntington Beach...

This is terribly upsetting about the library. I grew up living on Main Street my whole life (740 Main, the big and weird old house) and this library was like my second home from my infancy to my college days! It's a fantastic building, so unique and magical, unlike newer structures. I also mourn the loss of that pretty greenery amidst all the pink stucco. My friends and I used to sit in it and make daisy chains! Keep us updated.


Chris Jepsen said...

Hillary: I'm glad you found the blog. Hope it brings back some happy memories in addition to any anger it may have stirred up.

I'm especially glad to have a fellow student of Bill McGehee as a reader. I did my best to spend most of junior and senior year working in the darkroom, painting with Jerry Nicholson, doing political campaign work, and hanging out with my friends. What a wonderful chapter of my life that was!