Monday, July 28, 2014

Alamitos Beach Library

When you travel down Third Street, few realize that the Spanish looking building located between residences is actually a library, and the most important legacy of a town that once was---Alamitos Beach.  It was on July 6, 1895, that residents of the community which would eventually join Long Beach in 1909, held a hay ride and dime social to raise money for a library.  Nearly 40 people turned out with wagons, carts, carriages and bicycles and rode to the Thornberg’s residence where Humphrey Taylor played piano, Miss Willard recited poetry, and general conversation ensued.  Later that year a masquerade ball was held, with $16 raised for the building fund.  The new structure was to be more than just a library; it was to become the community center for the entire town in which plays, meetings, lectures and any and all gatherings could be held.  It wouldn’t be restricted to any sect or clique, according to the February 28, 1897 Los Angeles Herald, it would be perfectly free and open to all.  That historic site still houses a library today--the Alamitos branch library at 1836 East Third Street (called Bishop Street in earlier days). 
The original library
On April 9, 1897, the library was formally dedicated. Every cent of the cost of the building was raised by the efforts of the people themselves, the land donated by the Alamitos Land Company, headed by Jotham Bixby. The building cost about $500, with most of the construction done by civic minded citizens. That Friday evening, the April l1, 1897 Los Angeles Herald reported, the Library association turned the building over to E.S. Fortune, chairman of the building committee, clear of all debt.  The community turned out in force for the dedication, paying 25 cents admission, which also entitled them to a chicken supper and entertainment which consisted of: a piano solo, by Prof. Humphrey Taylor; address of welcome, ex-President Mrs. D.S. Shaw; vocal solo, “Twas April,” (encore, “In the Lovely Month of May”) by Miss Ada Dillon; report of the chairman of the building committee, E.S. Fortune; remarks by Mrs. A.M. Dunn, president of the Library association; report of the secretary of the Library association, A.M. Dunn; a wand drill by 14 young girls, pupils of Miss Ella Nevell’s school, led by Miss Ada Wingard; violin solo, A. Clever; intermission of half an hour, during which refreshments of ice cream, cake and lemonade were served; piano solo, Prof. H. Taylor; vocal solo, O.S. Taylor; mandolin solo, A. Cleaver; vocal solo, “Holy City,” Clifford Smith; “Advertising for a Wife,” Pantomime company. 
Library association members had met at the homes of its members until the library was built.  They had collected a number of books before the building was erected and took later took turns acting as librarian.  When the library was given to the City of Long Beach on February 3, 1910, it housed 500 volumes and Mrs. Violet Gresham was hired as librarian.  It was turned over to the City of Long Beach with the stipulation that the ladies of the Alamitos Library Association would always have use of rooms for social and literary meetings.

The one-story frame structure stood on the site until 1928, when a beautiful Spanish style building

with painted ceiling beams, tiled staircases and iconic, iron-decorated front windows replaced the one-story frame structure in January 1929---a glowing tribute to the town that once was---Alamitos Beach.

To learn more about the early history of this area of Long Beach click Alamitos Subdivisions