Hollywood Library history

The Library Association of Portland’s 1917 annual report states, “On January 24th, at the earnest request of the people of the neighborhood, a branch was opened in the Rose City Park district at a point within easy reach of the residents of Laurelhurst and Beaumont. From the beginning this branch was well patronized. It now ranks third among the small branches.” This branch was located in a leased building at 1236 Sandy Road. Rose City Park Library users checked out 29,119 books that year.

By 1921, circulation had risen to more than 48,000 books. That year’s annual report noted, “The gain of 8,187 [in circulation] is almost as amazing as that at Arleta (library) when one realizes that we have but one room with no possibility of doing any kind of special work.” Neighborhood residents lobbied for and raised funds for a new, larger library in the Rose City Park area. The 1923 annual report states:

Perhaps the most significant fact of the entire year is the distinct and remarkable library interest which has sprung up in two communities—in the Sunnyside district, which for years the Library has wished to serve, and in the Rose City Park district where the library has outgrown its quarters. As the Library Association has no building fund, and as the Carnegie Corporation which has provided all of our permanent branches has ceased giving money for libraries, and it was felt that the County could not at this time be called upon for a special levy, the problem before the Library was how to provide adequate library facilities for these two districts…The Rose City Park district, much larger in extent, was not long in organizing its campaign and at the present date has pledges for about $15,000 towards a fine branch to replace the small and inadequate rented quarters in a store building. When communities feel so keenly the need and importance of libraries as have their two districts, it speaks most hopefully for the intelligence and soundness of the citizens of Portland.

In 1924, the Library Association board recommended to the Rose City Park Library committee the purchase of a lot on N.E. Broadway Avenue, near 42nd Street. Rose City Park Library closed in July 1925, with the hope that the new building would be ready to open later that year.

In January 1926, the Library Association voted to contract with architect Jamieson Parker to create building plans for Rose City Park Library at a design cost not to exceed $250. (Jamieson Parker also designed Belmont Library.) In February, the Library Association authorized a five-year lease with the Rose City Park Library Association for the new building, to begin in August, when the new library was scheduled to open.

The new library, located at 1170 N.E. Hancock Street, opened in August 1926. Mary K. Murphy was the first librarian. The annual report for that year notes:

The new branch in the Rose City Park district was opened and work there has started with a vigor which promises to make this branch a strong one in our branch system. The building and real property for this branch were provided through the generosity of citizens in that section, who organized an association and solicited the funds and credit which have made possible the branch building…

The Rose City Park branch, which had existed for many years in a store building, was closed because it was inadequate to the fast growing community, and the community set about to build a branch which should be more fitting. It took some time to do it, but was completed last August, and the library moved into one of its most attractive homes. The building is of brick in the Georgian style… The building was financed by the community at a cost of about $17,000, and furnished by the library for $2,500. The Library Association rents it from the local corporation.

In February 1928, the Rose City Park Library Association deeded the new library to the Library Association of Portland. According to that year’s annual report, the property had a fair approximate value of $24,000.

In the 1950s, a new long-range plan for library development throughout Multnomah County was completed. The plan included “main branches” in six areas of the county, including Rose City Park.

In January 1959, the library board directed the firm of Stewart and Richardson, Architects, to prepare plans for a new building of 6,000 to 7,500 square feet, with cost estimates for each size. In June, the Library Association of Portland changed the name of Rose City Park Library to Hollywood Library to be more representative of the neighborhood the library would serve at its new location of 3930 N.E. Hancock Street. Hollywood Library opened on April 1, 1959. According to that year’s annual report:

The new building represents significant departures in the design of branch libraries and these have proved themselves in a few months of operation. Despite the high level of activity in the old building, the new one has seen a phenomenal rise, attesting to the ability of good physical facilities and book stock to serve a larger area under modern conditions of urban mobility.

In the following years, use of Hollywood Library continued to increase. By 1996, circulation averaged 47,000 per month — more than double what it had been when the library opened. In May, voters passed a bond measure to improve county library branches. Hollywood Library was one of four libraries specifically named on the ballot to receive special attention.

After the successful passage of the ballot measure, physical and functional assessments of each branch were performed; the analysis confirmed Hollywood Library’s existing location was too small.

In 1997 and 1998, Multnomah County Library held a series of community meetings to involve citizens in siting a new library of 13,000 square feet. By fall of 1998, properties on N.E. Tillamook Street between N.E. 40th and 41st Avenues had been selected and purchased.

In 1999, a study regarding the feasibility of developing a mixed-use building comprised of the library, mixed-income housing and possibly retail space showed that a mixed-use project was possible on the new site. Multnomah County Library issued a request for proposals from prospective developers, and Sockeye Hollywood, L.L.C., a subsidiary of Shiels Obletz Johnsen, was selected.

Multnomah County Library and Sockeye Hollywood, L.L.C. worked with architect Thomas Hacker and Associates, Inc. to design a 13,000-square-foot library combined with 47 mixed-income apartments and 815 square feet of ground floor retail space. This innovative, public transit-oriented project was the first-of-its-kind joint venture between the public and private sectors in Oregon. The condominium building features two-party ownership, with Multnomah County Library owning the library and Sockeye Hollywood, L.L.C. owning the residential and retail spaces.

The $3.45 million library was funded with a portion of the $29 million general obligation bond approved by voters in May 1996. The housing and retail portions of the project were budgeted at about $6.5 million and financed with 4 percent low-income housing tax credits administered by Oregon Housing and Community Services; tax-exempt bonds privately placed with U.S. Bank; a Portland Development Commission loan; and developer equity.

The groundbreaking ceremony for Hollywood Library’s new location took place on April 25, 2001, and the building was completed in 2002. A “Little Red Wagon Brigade” moved bags of books from the old library to the new one on April 20, the last day of operation in the old building. The new library opened on May 7, 2002.

Fact Sheet

  • Area: 13,000 square feet
  • Book capacity: 75,000 volumes
  • Architect: Thomas Hacker and Associates Architects, Inc.
  • General contractor: Walsh Construction
  • Developer: Sockeye Hollywood L.L.C.
  • First librarian: Mary Goldie
  • Opening: May 2, 2002

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