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UPDATED: Old West Hollywood Library Demolished Without Notice

The original city library is demolished Tuesday without advance notice given to residents. Designed by renowned architect Edward H Fickett, a movement has been underway to save the building.

UPDATED: Assistant City Manager Joan English reports the demolition of the library took place midday on Tuesday.  As for why the city did not give residents any notice regarding the demolition, English said, "We don't give notice of phases of construction projects."

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On the eve of the , the old library has been torn down. 

The original library, built in 1960, was slated for demolition as part of a redesign of West Hollywood Park. However, no date for that demolition was scheduled. According to a park employee, the library was torn down on Monday.

San Vicente Boulevard, between Melrose and Santa Monica Boulevard, where the original library was located, was closed to traffic from Monday at 6 a.m. until Tuesday at noon. Since the Sheriff’s station is also located in that block, for security operations during President Obama’s fundraising visit on Monday afternoon.

However, the Sherriff’s office never confirmed that the area was being used as a command post. In fact, in the press release the city sent out regarding road closures during the president’s visit, the closure of San Vicente was listed separately from the other streets about town.

The original library was considered small and dated, no longer meeting the needs of the residents of a thriving city. While it lacks any unique architectural features, it was designed by renowned architect Edward Fickett, who designed many buildings and public spaces in Los Angeles in the 1950s and 1960s, including the Port of Los Angeles.  

Because of the Fickett connection, there was a movement afoot to preserve the original library. Steve Ward, a member of the Los Angeles Conservancy Modern Committee, appeared before the City Council several times, pleading with the council to not to tear down the building. Ward about preserving the library and also had a Save West Hollywood Library Facebook page.

Weho Patch contacted Ward for comment about the library demolition, but he has not responded.

The area surrounding the original library, adjacent tennis courts and old baseball field (most recently used as a temporary parking lot) has been fenced off for about two weeks. When San Vicente reopened to traffic on Tuesday afternoon, a black tarp was up around the fenced area.  

Because the original library was a single-story building, its demolition behind the tarped 10-foot-high fence was not immediately noticed by residents.

Weho Patch received a tip Wednesday about 6 p.m. the building had been torn down. City Hall was already closed by that point, thus Patch was unable to get a comment from city officials.

Weho Patch will follow this story and update readers as more details become available.

Follow West Hollywood Patch on Twitter and Facebook for more updates, tips and news.

Todd Bianco September 29, 2011 at 06:01 PM
It's supposed to be a park, right? But the new council chambers, new library and a grand wedding cake facade attached to a giant parking structure is what we got for the first phase. Fair enough, the city does need the parking. The old library building and the multipurpose room that was used as chambers could easily have been repurposed and incorporated into the rest of the property which is a public park (or so it's supposed to be). Historic preservation can take place at the same time as new development. It takes a talented architect to weave things together, but this is the "Creative City" right?
west hollywould September 29, 2011 at 06:10 PM
You may not like the design, but the LA Times just called the new library one of the seven or eight best public buildings to be built in all of Southern California in the past decade. They were not just talking about its appearance but how it interacts with its environment and serves the community. Now that the library is built, the city is turning most of the rest of the park into open, green space. So, we have an acclaimed new building replacing two outdated eyesores; which will also allow for 2.5 more acres of open space. What, exactly, are you complaining about?
me September 29, 2011 at 06:15 PM
the writer is a FOH, btw....."friend of heilman".....its a great "planted" piece
Todd Bianco September 29, 2011 at 06:41 PM
I was quite surprised at the excellent review the building received from the LA Times architecture critic. From what I could tell, the best thing about the building was the sweeping floor-to-ceiling glass front with the unbelievable view of the PDC, Hollywood Hills, Griffith Park Observatory, Hollywood sign, etc. However, the PDC is such a stunning array of world-class buildings and grounds from a world-renowned architect that the library building feels somehow out of place across from such striking buildings. The new Red Building is absolutely fantastic and unique. Maybe it's just seeing the new library next to the the entire PDC complex that curbs my enthusiasm. I'm grateful that our city has the money to invest in public projects, infrastructure, parks, etc. We are lucky to live in WeHo. However, the old buildings you refer to are only dilapidated because they were allowed to deteriorate so it would be "easier" for people to agree to get rid of them. Neglect isn't a reason for demolition. So many landlords do that to their buildings on purpose so when they are sold to a condo developer, we are all "happy" to get rid of an eyesore. A rehabilitated old building can be very "green" too. History can coexist with new, but only if the people have the will to make it happen. I'm not sure our city leaders have that will.
db September 29, 2011 at 08:42 PM
This stinks, but I would expect no more from these corporate lackeys. They have taken the promise of what weho could have been and smashed it to bits.
Paul September 30, 2011 at 06:09 AM
I just hope the renovations to the old dated park include more cement areas so people can roller blade. I like what they have done to the park adjacent to the new library with the cement area and grassy area in the center. I know the basket ball courts are quite popular. I hope whoever does the design will do something all residents can enjoy. Not an easy task.
me September 30, 2011 at 07:16 AM
paul, i think i am in love with you....will you marry me?
Cathy September 30, 2011 at 02:44 PM
This is a DIRECT quote from one of our past mayor's: "We have a strong commitment to protecting the City's character and historic buildings, and we will continue to work hard to preserve the historic and scenic assets of West Hollywood" REALLY?! By the way, the exact same fate is awaiting the ONLY WPA buildings in West Hollywood. Great Hall/Long Hall at Plummer Park. Due for demolition this January, UNLESS protect plummer park succeeds in STOPPING this current master plan for the park. You can go to change.org & search plummer park to sign our petition & have your voice heard! We have a chance to actually make a difference.....
db September 30, 2011 at 06:15 PM
Disgusting.
db September 30, 2011 at 06:19 PM
I cannot agree with you. The building could have been used for any number of things. This is just one more example of the destruction of this city by the permanent cadre of morons who run this place. The arrogance of these people is unbelievable. They gotat go!
Stephanie September 30, 2011 at 07:12 PM
This current council and the designers and developers they select have no respect for the past. For them time began in 1984. This same band of cronies is hovering over Plummer Park like vultures waiting to swoop down and pick at the flesh and bones of historic buildings and 100 year old trees until there is absolutely nothing left of Eugenio Plummer's legacy except a small, cold, hard plaque attached to the side of a cold, white, monolith forced upon a charming, historic neighborhood against the people's will. Change.org. Sign the Plummer Park petition...or the fate of the Fickett Library will be the same in the park starting in Jan 2012...12 short weeks.
Paul September 30, 2011 at 07:51 PM
The old library was not worth saving. I could see if it had some historic value but it was a plain ugly, brick building that served it's use. Now hopefully the city council members will select and landscaper or developer who can make the park more useful as well as attractive so West Hollywood can have a nice park for once. That is a big piece of property and a lot of it is waited. They have restrooms in the center of the park that have been locked since 1984. I guess they use them for storage or something? That area needs to be taken away. They should also put all the swings and children's slides etc..... together. More grassy area with benches & a few table and cement area around so people can skate board, bike ride or roller blade around the perimeter of the park. Might be difficult with the pool being in the middle but a good architect should be able to come up with something.
Brian September 30, 2011 at 07:59 PM
This has just gotten out of control. The BS cronyism in West Hollywood's "government" is disgusting. Each of these city council members need to be termed out, and not heard from for a VERY long time. John Duran and his ilk should take their meth-induced. leather daddy trip far from my hometown. HE is everything that is wrong with the supposed gay movement. Who cares whether or not the library was worth saving. The fact remains that these a-holes DO NOT have the best interest of residents in their hearts-they have big business and their own pocket-lining as their worries. DISGUSTING.
Lynn Russell September 30, 2011 at 08:23 PM
The future of Plummer Park is typified by this strange You-Tube piece highlighting John Chase. The Community center, while looking like a serviceable structure has the appearance of a temporary quonset hut with all the coziness of a refrigerator, IMHO. If this was a suggestion of what is to follow it should be obvious that we are in trouble. Disparate architectural voices will continue to unknit what was once a harmonious enclave of structures and landscape that appeared to belong to the community around it. No matter how one tries to assemble this potentially grand other worldly scheme it is destined for failure. We better hope this nutty idea doesn't somehow take up root in Central Park in Manhattan. It would be laughable if it wasn't so serious. Ah the tragic human comedy. WE HAVE A CHANCE TO REDIRECT THE FUTURE AT PLUMMER PARK SO ITS TORN FABRIC CAN BE PROPERLY CONSERVED AND PERHAPS MODIFIED IN BEAUTY AND HARMONY ACCORDING TO THE ORIGINAL INSPIRATION.
Lynn Russell September 30, 2011 at 08:26 PM
Oops the John Chase piece slipped away but here it is.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KgNTxfoeLQ
Lynn Russell September 30, 2011 at 08:40 PM
With all the empty available space in the PDC tri-colored structures, you would think the city just might have located some space somewhere in there for a library, council chambers and what not. It even has parking. Then instead of erecting this monument to what I don't know across from it which is nothing but an expensive, seemingly overpriced, glorified window to view the PDC, the Hollywood Hills, Griffith Observatory and beyond they could have paid rent and written it off as expense or cooked up some kind of a deal with the Cohens. The result might have been a real park that would have wrapped around the Fickett Library as Mr. Fickett may have intended giving WH a burnished jewel of a structure that most of his peers deemed exceptional. Fickett Library could have held the archives of WH history before and after city status in an authentic and respectful manner. Instead we seem to be running for our lives before the giant eraser reaches us and obliterates any resemblance of life.
Todd Bianco September 30, 2011 at 09:11 PM
The PDC could also easily be home to the David Barton Gym rather than that horrible proposal up on Sunset at Horn. Lots of available space at the PDC. If he's so keen on a West Hollywood location, it seems like the PDC offers prestige, parking and a much better flow of traffic.
Stephanie September 30, 2011 at 11:32 PM
Please help us save Plummer Park's historic buildings, heritage trees and appropriateness for the neighborhood. Sign the petition: go to CHANGE.ORG and search petitions for Plummer Park. Join Elliott Gould, Ed Asner, Mike Farrell, StanleyK. Sheinbaum and hundreds of your neighbors by signing the petition and adding your comments, Remember the Fickett Library. Stop the desgruction of history now.
Paul October 01, 2011 at 12:08 AM
Plummer Par is a dusty, dirty park. It needs some $$$ put into.
Stephanie October 01, 2011 at 12:22 AM
You are so right Paul. It desperately needs restoration. The city has let in run down hill into the ground while they and the outside designers licked their chops in anticipation of bull dozing it and installing an ultra modern spaceship in the middle of a Spanish Colonial Revival historic neighborhood...we have 7 landmarked buildings with in feet of the park...not one is modern. Restoration was an original alternative but the city turned their backs on all alternatives and went merrily on their way doing what they wanted to do and spending over $40 million dollars in e process.k
Lynn Russell October 01, 2011 at 03:07 AM
Imagine, if the city had done the right thing after speaking with informed folks, a burnished Fickett Library might have been included in the PACIFIC STANDARD TIME exhibit from LACMA, after viewing the interior of the Eames House. Sure would have raised the credibility of WH instead of planting so much city driven mindless and trivial art about. That would have been REALLY significant. I wonder what Bobbye Tigerman co-curator of the exhibit at LACMA thinks about the unnecessary destruction. I'll have to ask and get back to you.
me October 01, 2011 at 03:09 AM
i'm expecting the city to sell off (or give) part of the park to david cooley and the abbey to expand their bar since the abbey gets EVERYTHING they want from city hall anyway!!!
me October 01, 2011 at 03:20 AM
link doesnt work
me October 01, 2011 at 04:13 AM
huh, whats this have to do with the abbey???
joninla October 01, 2011 at 08:07 AM
Have you not realized that all the sincere but grassroots efforts to affect change for the betterment of the people of West Hollywood, will at best give you several opportunities (2min a pop) to try to explain your cause, followed by ABSOLUTELY NO CHANGES TO WHATEVER PLANS THE CITY COUNCIL HAS. The higher the price tag for a project that has been planned and approved, the more impossible it is to get any of the Council Members to make changes to a plan that has significant pay-back (in some form) to the Council Members and their own personal financial interests. Stephanie - the Fickett Library is the ultimate example. They planned to have it demolished under total secrecy and with the guise of 'security for the President' as the reason that nobody saw it coming or happening. Case closed on the Fickett - they will just fence the site, and start construction before you even get your petitions (not that they will be considered by the Council). Good luck ... but I think you need a much more drastic approach .... not that I think it will work. The Council is both corrupt and ego-maniacs who could not possibly let the opinion of other people change the decisions they made under the 'power of office'. It goes to their heads just like 'real' politicians wish significant state/federal elected office.
joninla October 01, 2011 at 08:12 AM
It seems too late now to grieve over the Fickett Library. To be frank (not that it would have made any difference) the people so interested in preserving the old library should have started much, much sooner and with a collective drive and action without fail, to have any real standing to be angry. The New Library was 99% done when I first heard of anyone wanting to preserve the old library. Let's move on to the next MISTAKE the Council has planned to do BEFORE ground is broken, or the City Has wasted so much money already, that change is impossible.
joninla October 01, 2011 at 09:44 PM
Since when does the City "NOT" give notice of project updates. That's just about all they ever do .... unless it is something that might bring negative impact .... to wit: this now dead issue.
Lynn Russell October 01, 2011 at 09:59 PM
It is entirely possible that no demo permit is required for structures on City property. Does this have some similarity to the planned development of what is now Laurel Park? That issue had to travel far and wide through long and expensive litigation and there is presumably a large burr under the saddle of some individuals who felt curtailed in their efforts to skirt their verbal agreement with Elsie Weisman and were just overcome with anger. Well now the faces appear interchangeable. Just substitute Mrs. Fickett, who had multiple verbal acknowledgements from the city to preserve the library ........for Mrs. Weisman who gifted her property to the city in a good faith agreement. Hmmmm.
joninla October 02, 2011 at 03:53 AM
I wasn't referring to specifc notice for permits by statutory regulation. I was just referring to the frequent need for City Hall to update the residents when there is an update that makes the City and City Council look good. The fact the issue was known to exist and they did not mention it was indictive of yet another instance of compromised interests of the entire City Council with that of the Residents who live in WeHo and vote. I think it is time for the Council to be formally investigated and removed to end the ongoing monpoly of power held by clearly self-serving Elected Officials.
Steve Ward October 02, 2011 at 09:10 AM
Check out my opinion piece that ran as well... Sort of a companion to it all. http://westhollywood.patch.com/blog_posts/got-a-problem-just-demolish-it

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