Posted by: mbhcity | September 21, 2008

Brand Park; A Jewel in the Jewel City.

The Brand Library, formerly known as the El Miradero, home to L.C. Brand.

The Brand Library, formerly known as the El Miradero, home to L.C. Brand.

It is a quiet Saturday Afternoon as Southern Californians seek respite from the weekday hustle and bustle of traffic jams and homework.

Many go in search of the Southern California lifestyle Charles Nordhoff often touted in his writings.

There are many parks in the many counties that make up the metropolis, but none perhaps tell a tale of Southern California quite like Brand Park in Glendale.

Situated in the picturesque Verdugo Mountains, just north of downtown Glendale, Brand Park encompasses 31 acres in the Jewel City perfected with a studio, Japanese garden, a museum and a library.

Much of the park’s attention is focused on the hillsides, where the library is situated aside with picnic grounds, lush green lawns, a baseball and soccer field, and a playground where on most weekends, families gather to enjoy the Southern California lifestyle.

But what sets this park apart from most is that it once all belonged to a local businessman.

Leslie Coombs Brand, regarded by historians as the father of Glendale, lived in a home there called “El Miradero.” Brand is best remembered for building the first electric railroad in the city.

Built by Brand’s nephew Nathaniel Dryden in 1893, “El Miradero” is a Mediterranean palace inspired by Rand McNally’s East Indian Pavilion at the 1893 Columbian World Exposition in Chicago.

The name “El Miradero” is Spanish for a high place overlooking a far view, a book on the Brand family revealed.

Brand died in the home in 1925 and was buried on a hill nearby. Fifty years ago, the home was converted into what is now a public arts library, serving as the centerpiece of the park.

“I’ve worked in the library for three years and I think the community is wonderful,” said art librarian Cathy Billings. “The city has maintained the park quite well over the years and with all the people who come here to play sports, take a tour, or escape, the beauty really shows.”

It is a mystery how what once was a mansion in the hills became a library and its surroundings became a park, yet the setting seems near perfect for a library, Billing said.

“He had nothing to do with the artistry of the library, but when he gave it to city after his wife died, he wanted it to become a library,” Billings said. “He did not specify what kind of library, but since the house is on a remote hill, the city decided to turn it into an art library, in a way adding to the natural aura of the park.”

Mrs. Brand passed away in 1945. It is believed that the ghost of Brand remains there, because he loved it too much to read, park information guides read.

Adjacent to the library is the Doctors House, built in 1888 and once home to three prominent physicians and a chemist. For a time famed silent actor Nell Shipman lived in that home.

In 1979, the Doctors House was moved to Brand Park brick by brick from its original location at 921 E. Wilson Ave.

There are $1 tours of the Doctors House held every Sunday afternoon, except on holidays and in July, by docents of Glendale’s Historic Society, where visitors can relive some of Glendale’s history.

The park also features a studio which holds various events ranging from art lessons to birthday parties.

There is also a Japanese tea garden, built in 1974 through Glendale’s sister-city partnership with Higashi-Osaka, Japan and powered by reclaimed water. The garden is open to the public Monday through Thursday and is available for various events such as weddings.

The park is open year round, closed on holidays, with various events and tours of several facilities throughout the year. More information on the park, the library and the city’s history can be found at http://www.brandlibrary.org.

More information on Brand Park

www.ci.glendale.ca.us/brand

http://www.lamountains.com/parks_listing.asp

http://www.ci.glendale.ca.us/parks/brand_park.asp

www.brandlibrary.org

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