The Enchanted Tiki Library

Since they've been desperately trying to pitch themselves as "Surf City" for the past decade or so, you'd think Huntington Beach would be more proud of what may be the world's only "Enchanted Tiki Library." The photo above shows the 2,400-square-foot Banning Branch Library, which began life in 1962 as the tract office for the housing developments being built all around it. Several of those tracts, including Newport West, featured some Polynesian-themed roof lines and street names, and the tract office was built to echo that theme. It was located at 22171 Bushard Ave.

On March 26, 1968 the whole building was moved just down the road and around the corner to 9281 Banning Ave., and was turned into a neighborhood branch of the Huntington Beach Public Library. In 2007, the City hired an architectural firm to draw up plans for a new 12,500 square-foot building to replace the current one. The economy has stalled this plan for the time being, but the intent is still there.

I'm all in favor of libraries, and certainly I'm in favor of bigger, better libraries in my own backyard. But I do hope the new building pays some homage to the old one. It's a great example of 1960s Polynesian Pop Architecture and an extremely rare remaining example of the offices that were once such a central part of Orange County's historically important boom years. Maybe they could even find a way to incorporate some of the old building into the new one. I could definitely see playing up the theme more, with interiors by Oceanic Arts and subtropical plants for landscaping.

"Surf City" indeed!