Fate of Fullerton’s historic Hunt Branch Library remains uncertain

By Daniel Guerrero

The Hunt Branch Library in Fullerton, California, features classic design elements. (Daniel Guerrero/Inside Fullerton)

With its mid-20th century look, it’s no surprise the Hunt Branch library drew about 40 preservationists and others to a recent city meeting about its future.

Designed by noted architect William Pereira, Fullerton’s Hunt Branch Library was permanently shut down and has been leased to Grace Ministries International since 2014. That’s when the church’s permanent headquarters nearby underwent renovations, but it continues to use the facilities to this day. Its newest lease is up at the end of the year, leaving Fullerton residents wondering about the eventual fate of the library.

Part of the controversy about the library stems from the low rental price that has been paid by the church for the building and the 50 acres of land it sits on.

The Hunt Branch Library has been a landmark in Fullerton’s history since its opening. It has a special place in the heart of some Fullerton residents – some of whom refer to it as historic, beloved and as a treasure within the community.

“These places are community heirlooms,” said Jane Reifer at a meeting last month in the library. Reifer, who represents the group running savethehunt.com, has also worked on preserving the Fox Fullerton Theatre. “It means a lot to the fabric of the community to have community places to gather that allow you to interact with each other.”

Some speculation has residents wondering if the city will eventually sell the library to a private group, which brings into question where the sales revenue would go.

The money could go to the city’s library fund – or could end up in the general fund, according to Ryan Cantor, a member of the city’s Library Board of Trustees.

Cantor said it could “be a fight to ensure that,” if the library is sold.

Among the groups that support saving the library include homeless advocates who believe the location is an ideal spot for a shelter. “We just thought that this building would be nice to use as a shelter,” said Curt Johnston.

The board of trustees continue to look for answers for the Hunt Branch Library’s future.

“We’re working hard on this and we’re not giving up,” Cantor added.

It’s possible the that the board of trustees may reach out to other groups and organizations such as Fullerton College and Cal State Fullerton to help save the library from getting sold.

Photos of a recent peek into Fullerton’s historic Hunt Branch Library

Citizens address the board of trustees during the special Hunt Branch Library city council meeting on May 5, 2018. (Daniel Guerrero/Inside Fullerton)
The Hunt Branch Library’s book shelves are now filled with books belonging to Grace Prime Ministries the building’s current tenants. (Daniel Guerrero/Inside Fullerton)
Books belonging to Grace Ministries International now fill the book shelves of the Hunt Branch Library. (Daniel Guerrero/Inside Fullerton)
Among the bookshelves within the Hunt Branch Library, different multipurpose and conference rooms allow the existing library to be used in a variety of ways. (Daniel Guerrero/Inside Fullerton)
Resources, such as multipurpose rooms, lie within the Hunt Branch Library in Fullerton, California. (Daniel Guerrero/Inside Fullerton)
Inside the Hunt Branch Library, rows of book shelves are still filled with GMI’s books as they have leased the building for longer than expected. (Daniel Guerrero/Inside Fullerton)
Tables and computer desks are among the furniture that still give the Hunt Branch Library its mid-20th century look. (Daniel Guerrero/Inside Fullerton)
During a tour of the library, attendants were able to walk through the closed library. (Daniel Guerrero/Inside Fullerton)
Desks and furniture, just as the desk pictured, represent the mid-20th century look that the Hunt Branch Library emanates. (Daniel Guerrero/Inside Fullerton)

 

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