Magnolia Branch : About the Branch

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Magnolia Branch

About the Magnolia Branch

The Magnolia Branch of The Seattle Public Library has:




The Magnolia Branch at 2801 34th Ave. W. reopened July 12, 2008. The $4.3 million expansion and renovation was the last of the 27 projects completed under the "Libraries for All" building program. (See the Magnolia Branch Building Facts for more information.)


The expansion was built by Graham Contracting Ltd. and designed by Snyder Hartung Kane Strauss Architects.


The original branch, designed by noted Seattle architect Paul Hayden Kirk, is recognized as a quintessential example of Northwest design with distinct influences of Japan. The library has been designated as a landmark building by Seattle's Landmarks Preservation Board.


Clerestory windows let in plenty of natural light. The ceiling, built at various heights, lends a spacious feel to the interior. Book-lined alcoves frame large windows.


The addition, which was built onto the west side of the existing branch, was designed to respect the architecture of the existing building. Trees and plants form a grove-like setting for the addition.


Furniture designed by master craftsman George Nakashima was refinished as part of the project. Meyer Wells, a Magnolia furniture shop, made a table and bench for the branch from a salvaged walnut tree, a casualty of the 2006 winter storms.


Outside, invasive and weedy plants were removed to help restore the landscape to the original design envisioned by distinguished Seattle landscape architect Richard Haag, which enhanced the strong relationship between the landscape and the building. Several strawberry trees (Arbutus marina) were planted to replace madrona trees lost in the late 1960s.


The children's area is named for Dean and Mary Thornton. Dean Thornton was the former president of the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group. (See Donors to the Magnolia Branch: Named Spaces for more information.)


Bainbridge Island artist Kristin Tollefson designed a pair of site-specific sculptures called "Catch + Release" for the building - a branch suspended from the meeting room above the south window and a basket outside the south window. In addition, artwork on display in the original building will return to the expanded branch. The Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs manages the Library's public art program.



Aside from sporadic bookmobile service, library service in Magnolia dates back to 1943 when determined residents raised money for a rental space. The Library provided books and part-time librarian help and eventually took over the other expenses.


The Magnolia Bluff Station moved several times and became a full branch in the late 1940s, but still needed a permanent location.


In 1956, Seattle voters passed a $5 million bond issue to replace the Central Library and to use leftover money to build new branches, including in Magnolia.


The Library bought property on 34th Avenue West and West Armour Street. The new branch opened July 17, 1964.



In 1998, voters approved the $196.4 million "Libraries for All" (LFA) bond measure and The Seattle Public Library Foundation pledged to contribute privately raised money to improve the Library system. The measure included a $6 million Opportunity Fund for new or unanticipated neighborhood library capital needs.


The Magnolia Branch was slated to be renovated only, but in 2000 the Magnolia Community Club successfully proposed using money from the Opportunity Fund to expand the branch.


Construction began in May 2007. The expanded branch reopened July 12, 2008.

Safe Place

Magnolia Branch
2801 34th Ave. W.
Seattle, WA 98199



1 pm - 8 pm


1 pm - 8 pm


11 am - 6 pm


11 am - 6 pm




11 am - 6 pm


1 pm - 5 pm

Regional Manager:
Kip Roberson

Nearest branches open every day:

Libraries for All: Investing in Experiences