From 1909 until 1924 as part of the original Little Landers settlement, a church and library had been housed in a building within the designated park area. In May of 1924, Frank Beyer, described as “a capitalist of San Ysidro and Tijuana, Mexico with a long list of benefactions in his community, offered to give $8,000 for the construction of a permanent library branch.
Beyer owned considerable property in San Ysidro and the Gold Room Casino and Restaurant in Tijuana. In addition to owning a large dairy, Rancho Lechuza located west of the study area, Beyer built and owned a home on Hall, donated money for the construction of the community church and the civic center. A major street in San Ysidro is currently named after him. Local residents nicknamed him “Booze Beyer”‘.
In making the offer to fund the construction of a library, Beyer stipulated that the building had to be located on the Boulevard, that it have a smoking room for men, that no gambling occurred inside its walls, and that his and his wife’s pictures would appear on a wall inside.
A library board headed by Mr. Goetz of the San Yisdro Irrigation District was formed with the idea that once completed, the building would be deeded over to the county. Mrs. Eleanor Hitt, County Librarian, wrote to Milton Ferguson, State Libraries, in May of 1924 requesting: “pictures and plans of some of the branch buildings costing $7-8,000… including furniture.”
The library was formally opened on October 16, 1924. The building had the unique distinction of being the first branch building owned by the county and the only library in the country to have a smoking room for men; Beyers insisting: “that most men wish to smoke while they read.”
The following passage describes the results of Beyer’s “public spirited generosity””
….”On the evening of October 16, the new library at San Ysidro was opened with a delightful reception given by the people of the community in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Beyer, the donor of the building… The library which was erected and finished by Mr. and Mrs. Beyer at a cost of about $12,000 has several unique features. Besides the usual library furniture are 8 or so large upholstered chairs and an attractive floor lamp. When these comfortable chairs are drawn up by the readers around the fireplace in the evenings the atmosphere is more like that of a home than like that of a public library. The gift of Mr. Beyer was wholly unsolicited and was most graciously bestowed. In addition to the building and furniture, Mr. Beyer bought over $500 worth of books selected by the County Library to form a permanent reference collection for the library. He has also provided for the upkeep of the grounds for a long period of years. The only requests made by Mr. Beyer in connection with his gift are that the library shall be open every evening except Sundays and holidays, that smoking shall be allowed in the room provided for that purpose, and that the Police Gazette be kept on the reading table.”
Final clarification of the title to the library building was achieved as a result of a title suit against the San Ysidro Irrigation District by the County of San Diego.
The county’s title to the building was finalized on May 22, 1957.
In 1983, the library was closed for remodeling and expansion, including the addition of an atrium. When it re-opened in 1984, the sign was changed to read: Biblioteca Publica.
San Ysidro Historic Resources Survey, Conducted for: City of San Diego Planning Department, Conducted by: Roth and Associates, Linda Roth & Judy Berryman, 14 August 1989.