Saturday: Celebrate at the Bernal Heights Library’s Gala 75th Anniversary Party

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Bernal Heights Library Dedication, October 20, 1940

Bernal Heights Library Dedication, October 20, 1940

Its not hyperbole to say that the Bernal Heights Branch Library is a pillar of our community, and we are incredibly lucky to have it. The building is lovely, the role it plays is invaluable, and the library staff work hard to make it all happen.

Our library turns 75 this weekend, and Bernal branch manager Valerie Reichert wants you to come to the birthday party:

We are having our 75th Anniversary on Saturday!

Celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Bernal Heights Branch!
Saturday, October 10th 1:30- 4:00 pm

The Bernal Heights Branch is 75 years old. Come share stories and help celebrate our beautiful WPA branch built in 1940. Activities include : San Francisco Mandolin Orchestra, crafts making in the Children’s Room, refreshments and history slide shows. Volunteers and staff will invite you to record your “Hot Bernal Minute” which will be captured on iPads.

Fun! But let’s back up. Where did our glamorous library come from?

Here’s the basic history:

The Bernal Branch as a “library deposit station” was established in 1920 at 303 Cortland Avenue. As the neighborhood and library grew, it was moved, in 1936, to 324 Cortland. When that proved inadequate the neighbors lobbied for a new building.

The one floor branch library at 500 Cortland, was the 21st in the system and built on the site of the original Bernal School at a cost of $94,600. It was designed by Frederick H. Meyer, one of the most prolific and versatile architects in San Francisco at the turn of the 20th century, funded by the Work Projects Administration and dedicated on October 21, 1940.

After 68 years of use, the branch closed for renovation, as part of the Branch Library Improvement Project, in February 2008. The renovation, with a budget of $5.7 million, was designed by staff of the City’s Bureau of Architecture under the supervision of Andrew Maloney. His design is an intelligent and elegant response to Meyer’s building which originally devoted only the upper level to library purposes, and incorporates such modernizations as ADA accessibility, and seismic and technological upgrades.

Thank you, FDR! See you on Saturday.

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PHOTOS: Top, Bernal library, circa 1940, via SFPL Online Historical Photo Archive. Below, parade on Cortland for the Bernal Heights Library, October 20, 1940. Via Living New Deal

3 thoughts on “Saturday: Celebrate at the Bernal Heights Library’s Gala 75th Anniversary Party

  1. Thanks for sharing this invitation with us, Todd, and for recognizing the important role our library and its staff play in the Bernal community. Happy Birthday Bernal Library … and many more!

  2. Todd, thank you so much for this lovely shout-out. Bernal staff is very appreciative of the time you took to do this posting and for uploading the wonderful pictures of opening day. Many of us had never seen them! Bernalwood is truly a living archive! Valerie

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