History of Brand
Brand Library & Art Center is the former home of Glendale pioneer Leslie Coombs Brand. L.C. Brand, often called the “father of Glendale”, built his beloved Miradero estate in 1904, here at the base of the Verdugo Mountains, with views of orange groves and undeveloped land all the way to Griffith Park in the distance. Its Moorish inspired exterior was modeled after the East India Pavilion at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, which Mr. Brand visited. The mansion’s striking towers, minarets, and repeating scalloped arches soon caused locals to nickname it Brand’s Castle. In a generous civic-minded gesture, Brand left his home and adjacent land to the City for use as a public park and library when he died in 1925. After Mrs. Brand’s death in 1945, the City converted the building from home to library, which opened for business in 1956. In the conversion, many original interior architectural
elements were removed or obscured, including exterior and interior windows and doors, light fixtures, and fireplaces. In 1969 an addition was built, which included a large art gallery and recital hall. In March 2012 the Brand Library building closed for a highly anticipated renovation, which would restore historic features of the mansion, as well as address seismic, accessibility, and infrastructure issues. Brand Library & Art Center reopened on March 27, 2014.
A collection of online photographs that depict Leslie C. Brand and his family while he was still living in Miradero, images of the rooms within the mansion, and scenic views of the property are available online as part of The Online Archive of California (OAC). The collection includes photographs and documentation related to Mr. and Mrs. Brand's funeral, the Brand family cemetery, the Brand Lodge, Brand's 1921 fly-in party, his airfield and airplanes, his automobiles, and his camp in Mono Lake. The collection also includes photographs of the Brand Library and Park that was created from his home and property deeded to the City of Glendale.
The Brand Family
Leslie Brand is called the father of Glendale due to the role he played in the development of the City in the early 1900s. He partnered with Henry Huntington and Edgar Goode to bring the electric rail to connect Glendale to Los Angeles. At the railroad dedication celebration on July 2, 1904 Mr. Brand spoke of “his early dreams coming true, in which he pictured a country home in close proximity to the city.” At the time the tracks ran up Brand Boulevard to Casa Verdugo between Stocker and Randolph where the company established a restaurant under the management of Mrs. Piedad Yorba de Sowl, which quickly became very popular. At one time he owned Glendale Light & Power Company, the Miradero Water Company and the Consolidated Water Company. He sold the power and water companies to the City of Glendale to provide municipal services to the community. He also established the San Fernando Valley Home Telephone Company providing phone services.
Brand explored the idea of building a residence in the foothills above Glendale where he had purchased land. He hired architect Nathaniel Dryden, his brother in law, to design and build a mansion based on the East Indian Pavilion he had seen at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Between 1903 and 1904 the house was built and named "El Miradero" by Brand, meaning a high place overlooking an extensive view. The grounds included a greenhouse, stables, swimming pool, tennis court and beautiful gardens—all perfect for entertaining, which Mr. Brand and his wife Mary Louise loved to do. A contemporary, John C. Sherer recalled that “…the doors of ‘Miradero’ were frequently thrown open to the people of Glendale where they found themselves treated with cordial and liberal hospitality by Mr. and Mrs. Brand.”
By 1915, Leslie Brand had divested most of his financial interests in Glendale, and turned more of his attention to enjoying life. He loved his friends and family, including his sisters and nieces and nephew, his dogs and his horses, his cars and airplanes, and his lodge at Mono Lake. In his later years he built an airstrip and hangar on his property, bought many airplanes and indulged his love of aviation. His sensational “fly-in” parties, where all guests had to arrive by plane, were covered in the press near and far. In the summer of 1924 Leslie Brand was diagnosed with terminal cancer. By February of 1925 he was confined to his bed, where according to the newspaper, “he derived pleasure from the roaring of the airplane motors as the ships pass over his residence” as pilots paid their last respects.
In the summer of 1924, Leslie Brand was diagnosed with terminal cancer and he convalesced at home. He decided to donate his home and acreage to the City of Glendale to be used exclusively as a Public Library and Public Park. Mayor Spencer Robinson said “I am at a loss for words to show my feelings at this time. Mr. Brand is the father of Glendale. He gave this city its start and has done much in its growth, and now for him to give this wonderful piece of ground shows the wonderful heart in the man.”
Mr. Brand died on April 10, 1925 at the age of 65. Upon the death of Mary Louise Brand in 1945, El Miradero, its gardens and parkland became the property of the City of Glendale. The home would be used for cultural purposes until the opening of the Brand Library and Art Center in 1956.