Our History

129 Years of Service

VeteransParkLibraryx_1 MBLibraryPhoto2
               1909 City Hall West Wing                         1931 Veterans Park                       1995 Civic Center

Redondo Beach established its first library in 1895 when the city assumed responsibility for a reading room which had started two years earlier on Wharf No. 1 by the Women's Christian Temperance Union.
In this photograph from the California State Library (ca. 1895) the reading room is the small white frame building in the very center, dwarfed by the massive Bracewell and Rosecrans Warehouse on the commercially busy pier. The street going uphill behind the reading room is Emerald.

In November of 1908, Redondo's City Trustees organized a five-member Library Commission. On January 2, 1909, the library moved to Room 5 in the west wing of the new City Hall (pictured above, left) at 301 Emerald Street. Mrs. N.F. Allison became the new librarian. 

The Library proved to be popular and successful, and by 1917 the growing collection filled the entire west wing of the City Hall. By 1928 the need for additional space could no longer be ignored, and the Chamber of Commerce suggested a new building be constructed on the site of the old Hotel Redondo, which had been demolished in 1925 after a rather short career of 35 years as a seaside resort.

Designed by the noted architect Lovel Bearse Pemberton, the new Spanish/Dutch colonial building in Veterans Park on the Esplanade (above, center) was dedicated on July 2, 1930, and this iconic structure served as the main library for the city for sixty years. In 1981 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  An account of the opening day was published in the July 4, 1930 Redondo Reflex.

Toward the end of the 20th Century earthquake concerns prompted a consideration of the building's safety, and on July 5, 1991 the City closed the Main Library in Veterans Park and reopened in temporary quarters in the Redondo Shores Shopping Center. On July 20, 1993 ground was broken for construction of a permanent library adjacent to City Hall, and two years later on July 8, 1995 the new Redondo Beach Main Library (above, right) opened at 303 N. Pacific Coast Highway.

The Veterans Park Library was internally remodeled, seismically retrofitted, and re-opened in 1996 as a venue for special events. 

The Story of the North Branch

Back in 1930 when the Veterans Park Library was new, a branch library was opened in North Redondo at the Grant Community Hall in the Redondo Villa Tract. In 1949 this "North Branch" was moved to larger quarters on Vanderbilt Avenue, on the same lot as Fire Station No. 2, which faced Redondo Beach (later renamed Artesia) Boulevard. In 1959 the Fire Station moved to its present quarters on Grant Avenue, the Library was remodeled, and it took over the "2000" address. After many years of hard use that building was closed for demolition in February 2009, and a new building was constructed on the same lot. The new Library opened to the public on September 28, 2010. It is the first City owned Green building and was awarded an excellence in environmental design (LEED) certification.

More about the history of Redondo Beach can be found in the Local History Collection in our Reference Department.