Brainy Cultural Paradise

Most beautiful libraries focus on what’s inside. Our downtown library both in Pasadena and in Los Angeles are just that. I love a vaulted ceilings and overflowing bookshelves, but I’d have to say for me, the grounds and the facades are just as important. From structures steeped in design history, libraries prove that free books and internet access aren’t the only reason to visit an architectural gem. But the one I love going to the most is a short drive away. Having discovered it when I lived in Los Feliz, it’s still as wonderful now as it was then. There aren’t many things that can claim that sort of history.

Front of Bldg. taken at angle

The Brand Library in Glendale, is unique, most likely because it was a home. Leslie Coombs Brand built his residence on a lot at the base of the Verdugo Mountains. His beloved Miradero—a Spanish word meaning “a high place overlooking an extensive view.” is a 5,000 square foot Moorish mansion. Its design interest lies in a Saracenic inspired exterior with minarets and repeating scalloped arches.  And it’s contrasting late-Victorian style interior gives it warmth. Together these two elements denote a rare sort of beauty and grandeur.  When Brand died in 1925 he left his home and adjacent land to the City for use as a public park and library.


As an Art and Music Library, The Brand Library has  Galleries and a Recital Hall, where art exhibitions are hosted and classical concert performances are given. The setting is surrounded by a magnificent verdant park, hiking trails, and a Japanese garden. So not only does it foster beauty and literacy but it inspires intellectual curiosity and stimulates the imagination. My, oh my, a treasure for my heart and mind!


  1. The specialized art and music collection of the Brand Library is also worth the drive. The gallery regularly gives exposure to young and new artists. I have hiked the trail into the Verdugo Hills above the Brand Library several times. It has several quite steep parts to the trail and is definitely in rattlesnake country, so I would only recommend it to experienced hikers. It has a lovely view of Burbank and Griffith Park off to the west and south. If you go high enough, up to the crest, you can look off to east across the valley of the 210 freeway to the San Gabriel Mountains. Also, a little known interesting feature of the area is the private family cemetery where Mr. Brand and his family members and pets are buried. Mr. Brand’s grave is a small, stone pyramid. It is unusual because Los Angeles for some reason does not have many small private cemeteries. It is located off the main access road, up a little canyon, and spreads across a small knoll.

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