Relocated Marcy Branch Library opens

Relocated Marcy Branch Library opens

2011 - New Marcy Branch, 6927 Magnolia Avenue

2011 – New Marcy Branch, 6927 Magnolia Avenue

After about three years of planning, renovation and moving, Riverside’s Marcy Branch Library has reopened. The new location, near the intersection of Magnolia and Arlington avenues, is about 1 mile from its former spot on Central Avenue near the Riverside Plaza.

The relocated Marcy Branch occupies the bottom floor of an 18,000 sq. ft., two-story building on Magnolia Avenue (with the city’s Parks, Recreation and Community Services taking the top floor). The building was built in 1972 to house district offices for the Automobile Club of Southern California. The architect was well-known Riverside architectural firm, Ruhnau, Evans & Steinmann.

2011 - Interior of new Marcy Branch

2011 – Interior of new Marcy Branch

The Auto Club remained in the building until 1998 when a new office building opened at 3700 Central Avenue on the site of the former Southern California Gas Co. district headquarters. (Ironically, the new Auto Club building sits directly across the street from the old Marcy Branch library.) Prior to becoming the new Marcy Branch, the former Auto Club building housed offices for Realty Executives (until about 2009).

Completely refurbished to the tune of $7.9 million, the new Marcy Branch comprises 9,000 square feet of space (about double the previous location). The roomier location includes over 30 computer stations, WiFi access, a study room, self-checkout stations — and indoor restrooms (which were located outside at the old branch).

2011 - Interactive tree

2011 – Children’s section

The expanded children’s section contains an environmentally-themed mural, a story-time gathering area, children’s computers, and a life-size “interactive tree” that houses a memory game and puppet theater.

Adjacent to the building is a small outdoor area with a bench, grass and shade trees. Directly across the street is tiny, but inviting, Low Park.

Still unclear is the fate of the former Marcy Branch, which originally began in 1951 as the Magnolia Center Branch located at Palm School (now Riverside Adult School).

Former Marcy Branch, 3723 Central Avenue (Ruhnau, Ruhnau, Clarke)

Former Marcy Branch, 3723 Central Avenue
(Ruhnau, Ruhnau, Clarke)

In 1958, the branch moved into a newly-constructed building on Central Avenue. The branch was renamed Marcy Branch in honor of longtime Riverside resident Charles F. Marcy whose bequest helped provide funding for the building. Its fanciful, mid-century design by noted Riverside architect Herman O. Ruhnau (of Ruhnau, Evans & Steinmann) includes elements of post and beam construction that was popular during the 1950s and 1960s.

At least one proposal calls for the nearby Lucky Greek fast food restaurant — impacted by the Magnolia Avenue railroad underpass project — to take up residence in the old Central Avenue library building.

Reuse plans may have stalled recently, but whatever the outcome, we hope a viable reuse — one that doesn’t overly damage the original character of the mid-century building — can be found for the old Marcy Branch.

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B&W photo of Marcy Library courtesy of Ruhnau, Ruhnau, Clarke

Sources: The Press-Enterprise, City of Riverside, Riverside Public Library

Comments on “Relocated Marcy Branch Library opens

  1. holiday park October 25, 2011 at 10:34 PM

    People who helped in the renovation of the Riverside’s Marcy Branch Library did a great job. The library looks awesome.

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