In the midst of planning an expansion for the downtown branch, news surfaced recently regarding the future of another branch within Riverside’s library system, this time involving the possible relocation of the tiny, but unique, Marcy Branch.
Located on Central Avenue just west of the Riverside Plaza, the Marcy Branch opened in 1958 replacing the temporary Magnolia Center Branch established nearby in late 1951. The branch was named after longtime Riverside resident Charles F. Marcy, whose bequest helped provide funding for the new building.
The fanciful design of the circular, single-story library includes elements of post and beam construction that was popular at the time and is yet another fine example of mid-century architecture by noted Riverside architect Herman O. Ruhnau. The interior looks to be mostly intact, including what appears to be original lighting above the central reference desk.
The relocation proposal shifts the contents of the Marcy Branch into the former Auto Club building located about a mile away near the intersection of Magnolia and Arlington avenues. The plan calls for the library to occupy the first floor of the two-story, 18,000 sq. ft. building while city officials say offices for the city’s Parks Department could occupy the second level.
Overall, we like the relocation plan. There’s no doubt the Marcy Branch is severely cramped. The proposed move would nearly double the floor space over the existing Central Avenue location and even allow the possibility for future expansion upstairs.
But what’s to become of the current Marcy building? That’s a question not yet answered.
Although easy to overlook and under appreciate in its current setting, we feel the existing Marcy building deserves to be preserved. Surely, the city can find an internal use for it, one that doesn’t entail significant modification or costs. In fact, one such possibility comes from our friend Tanya at ModernRiverside.com. She has an excellent idea for reusing the Marcy building to house the library’s Local History Resource Center, which is currently located in the basement of the downtown branch. Not only would this save the iconic Ruhnau-designed building, it would also allow greater access to more of the library’s extensive local history collection.
- Riverside Press-Enterprise – Purchase approved for library branch (June 5)
- Riverside Press-Enterprise – Plan would give Riverside’s Marcy Branch Library room to grow
- City of Riverside – Riverside Public Library
Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library, The Press-Enterprise, ModernRiverside.com