Wednesday, April 27, 2016



     The Coronado Public Library (640 Orange Ave.) is one of the most beautiful libraries around. It was designed over 108 years ago in a classic revival style by architect Harrison Albright. Although it has been renovated on many occasions, the simplicity of the  large white columns and front portico have prevailed.
      The grounds are beautifully landscaped with huge old trees, including a rare Torrey pine and colorful blooming roses. The whimsical 14-foot-high sculpture of a sea dragon called “Imagine” is located near the front sidewalk and is on loan from Lemon Grove artist, Ken Kraber. It is one of many pieces of artwork that can be enjoyed here.
      The building, as well as the spacious block of surrounding park area, was a gift to the citizens of Coronado by sugar and shipping magnate John D. Spreckels in 1909. The library is directly across the street from Spreckels Park, also donated by Spreckels, who owned much of Coronado in the early 1900s, including the Hotel Del Coronado. The John D. Spreckels Center, which replaces the former Senior Center, is currently under construction to the west of the library.
When entering the library lobby, the first thing you will notice is an impressive 48-foot-long mural by Alfred Ramos Martinez called “El Dia del Mercado.” This fresco masterpiece was painted in 1938 for the walls of the popular, La Avenida Cafe, that closed in 1990. After careful transport and restoration, that involved cutting it into five separate sections and loading it into a crate before it was sent to storage. It was acquired and installed at the newly renovated and expanded Coronado Public Library in 2005. 

       A second painting by Martinez, “Canasta de Flores,” is attractively installed in the main section of the library. This colorful floral mural, which was covered by wallpaper and paint in the old cafe's cocktail lounge, was discovered by accident because it was covered with wallpaper. It was also restored, and then purchased by the Friends of the Library when the library was renovated.

The original charm of this building is still evident when you enter the Spreckels Reading Room, located in the older section of the building. It is now a comfortable and peaceful area with leather chairs, work tables, wooden bookcases, artwork, large windows, white walls, and a skylight high above.

      I have a special appreciation for the scenes from the Wizard of Oz, by artist Brenda Smith, that are printed on glass, and installed as suspended panels as you enter the children's library. I also enjoy the display case that changes with the season and is currently a Fairytale Tea Party. It reminds me of the Christmas windows we used to enjoy at Dayton's in downtown Minneapolis when I was young. I like to bring my granddaughter, Mila, here for the popular storytimes. Afterwards, she especially likes to watch the model train that circles above the bookcases in the children's section.

       Also of interest to visitors are the rotating exhibits to view in the gallery as you enter the main library. They change every six to eight weeks; currently on display is The Art of Album Covers. Recent exhibits have included: Designed by Edith Head, the Art of Folk Costume; and World War II in Words and Pictures.

      The Coronado Public Library is open every day of the week, including four weekday evenings until 9 p.m. It offers a wide range of services, databases, lectures, and special programs that are provided free of charge. Information can be found on its website.

      The annual Friends of the Library Book Sale is held annually on the third weekend of April; raising $33,000 for the library in 2016.  It is one of the largest in the country with thousands of books, CDs, and DVDs for sale. It is held in tents located directly across the street from the library in Spreckels Park on the same weekend as the popular Coronado Flower Show.

The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.” -Albert Einstein
Revised July 15, 2017

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