A Place to Call Home: Local library and school contribute to Cardiff’s greatness

Cardiff-by-the-Sea was founded in 1911 so it was only 2 years old when forward thinking people knew they needed a library. It was Christmas Eve, 1913 when 38 residents gathered in S.M. (Solomon) Holbrooks grocery to make application for a library.

It read, “We the undersigned respectfully make application for the establishment of a Free Circulating Library at this place, the books to be placed in S. M. Holbrooks store”. That grocery was in the Mercantile Building, Cullen’s playground hotel, at the NE corner of San Elijo and Chesterfield where Patagonia is today.

There you could pick up your molasses, corn meal and library books; a real one-stop shop. The library traveled east on Chesterfield to a real estate/insurance building, then south on Orinda to the Scout House in Glen Park. From there, it went back to Chesterfield to Mauldin’s Variety Store. There, Mrs. Sidney Mauldin, stepmother of World War II Cartoonist Bill Mauldin, served as “librarian.”

From 1950 to 1960 there was no home available so Cardiff-by-the-Sea was served by a book mobile. Then, with the opening of the Jepson complex on Newcastle in 1961, the library moved to a small, dark space under the stairs. But that proved unsatisfactory so they relocated to the front of the building at 2143, one block south of our present location.

It was there in 1982 that I became a card-carrying member when the late Betty Grevelding was the Branch Manager.

The quarters were cramped, newspapers hung on poles and had to be moved out on the sidewalk when they had Saturday morning story time.

In 1984 there had been many threats of closure and, consequently, the Friends of the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Library support group was founded in April of that year.

We not only wanted to keep our dear library open, we wanted to move it to the new Cardiff Town Center. In December of that year we were successful in making the move.

In 1990, City of Encinitas funding allowed us to expand, creating a larger children’s area, a community room and a small area where we could sell used books.

It was tucked in a corner and thus was baptized the Book Nook a name we still hold dear.

Because of rental conditions, the threat of closing always hovered so we started to search for a permanent residence.

The Red Brick building on the corner of San Elijo and Montgomery was considered, as was the old Methodist Church, but with the support of Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, the Hamilton-White Foundation and many interested residents, we were able to build the gorgeous facility we opened in 2003.

On March 22, at 11 a.m. we will celebrate our 100th anniversary of library service to the community and hope you can join us to meet county and city officials as well as many Friends.

There will be a half-price book sale In progress 10 a.m to 4 p.m. in our Book Nook. Refreshments and entertainment will round out the day.

On Feb. 6 Cardiff Elementary School celebrated their 100th birthday.

The school started in Hector McKinnon’s barn and now has a facility with an unbelievable view of the Pacific Ocean.

The Cullen School bell tolled 100 times to commemorate the event.

A gorgeous library and a beautiful school are only two reasons why Cardiff-by-the-Sea is the greatest place to call home.

A founding and life member as well as past president and current board member of the of the Friends of the Cardiff-by-the-Sea Library, Irene has lived here since 1982.


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