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Life and Arts

Verdugo Views: Brand organization to celebrate 50th anniversary with 1960s-themed event

Representatives from the City of Glendale, the Glendale Public Library, the architectural firm of Ch
Representatives from the City of Glendale, the Glendale Public Library, the architectural firm of Charles Walton Associates, and many others, gathered at Brand Park to celebrate the beginning of construction of the city’s cultural arts center.
(Courtesy of Brand Library)

The local organization called Associates of Brand Cultural Arts Center was formed 50 years ago this month, during the final stages of an expansion of Brand Library in 1969.

The library had opened its doors to the public 13 years before, in 1956, in a house constructed for Leslie and Mary Louise Brand.

Inspired by the East Indian Pavilion during an 1893 visit to the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the Brands commissioned local architect Nathaniel Dryden to build their home in a somewhat similar style.

It was completed in 1904 and named “El Miradero.”

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Brand later deeded nearly 500 acres of his northwest Glendale property to the city for a public park. He also gifted the house, upon the death of his widow, with the stipulation that it be used as a library.

Mary Louise Brand died in 1945 and, four years later — after a lot of legal wrangling — the city appropriated funds to develop the library and the park, according to the Oct. 3, 1969, edition of the Glendale News-Press.

By 1956, the mansion had been converted into a library.

Designated as the art and music section of the Glendale Public Library, it opened with 824 books, 15 periodicals, 196 art prints and 45 frames, along with 1,294 phonograph records, as noted in a Brand Library leaflet found in a scrapbook maintained by the associates.

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The leaflet also stated that both the park and the library were immediately popular, and that it “quickly became obvious to city administration and civic-minded residents that the library was too small to quell the cultural thirst in Glendale.”

In 1965, the city allocated funds to construct a 21,000-square-foot addition to provide art galleries, an assembly room and studios, also according to the Oct. 3, 1969, News-Press.

A local architectural firm, Charles Walton Associates, was hired for the addition.

Early in 1969, anticipating a spring opening, Jack Ramsey, chief librarian, asked several prominent citizens to plan the opening festivities.

Committee members were Mrs. Donald P. Hunter, Mrs. Charles Walton, Mrs. Robert Hull, Mrs. Charles Reinhart, the Elliot House, Eric Schneirsohn and Paul Galleher.

Soon realizing that interest in the new facility was great and that all residents should have the opportunity to share in the excitement, the committee proposed forming themselves into a nonprofit group to raise money.

“Funds would be used for activities and equipment for the Library and art center,’’ according to the June 18, 1969, edition of the News-Press.

The City Council ratified formation of the Associates of Brand Cultural Arts Center on June 17 of that year.

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To kick off the library’s opening, the associates planned a glamorous black-tie affair with a $5 per-person donation.

Delays pushed the dedication date to the fall and, on Oct. 4, the associates celebrated their formation and the opening of the new art center with a series of events.

The Associates of Brand Library & Art Center (as the organization is now known) will celebrate 50 years with several events highlighting the group’s role in developing the Brand into a significant regional resource.

A public event called “Party Like It’s 1969” will be held on Oct. 4, with a commemorative $5 per-person donation to enter the retro-1960s celebration — 1960s-style clothing is optional.

In an email, Arlene Vidor, president of Brand Associates, wrote, “We’ll have music of that era, and it’ll just be a fun and free-wheeling evening at Brand, appreciating what a jewel of a cultural landmark we are so fortunate to have in Glendale.”

Readers Write:

Marilyn Chrisman emailed to say that she enjoyed the column about the Los Angeles Breakfast Club that ran on April 20.

“It brought back a lot of memories. The family had been members since its beginning and used to take me along sometimes when I was just young, and I went later as well,” she wrote.

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“I would sit with the grown-up ladies by ourselves, while the men would be at the ‘Rooster’ table. The ‘Ham and Egg’ song was always a favorite with me,” she added.

Diane Dixon, who provided information about her great-grandfather, L.E. Behymer, for the above-mentioned story, said in an email that she had given me the wrong date for her parent’s wedding.

“If there were one date I should get right, it would be the wedding date,” she wrote.

It was not on Nov. 27 as printed, but on Nov. 28. She added that four generations of her family have been married on Nov. 28 — her father’s parents in 1900, her parents in 1947, Dixon and her husband in 1980 and their younger daughter in 2013.

Glendale News-Press columnist Joylene Wagner emailed that she enjoyed the column about Diane Dixon’s family.

“Everybody has history, and we know so little of it,” she wrote.

Katherine Yamada can be reached at katherineyamada@gmail.com. or by mail at Verdugo Views, c/o Glendale News-Press, 453 S. Spring St., Suite 308, Los Angeles, CA 90013. Please include your name, address and phone number.

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