When Chevalier’s Bookstore had their grand re-opening last month, Chevalier family members from San Diego and Ventura counties returned to LA to be a part of the celebration marking 64 years of bookselling on Larchmont Boulevard. Along with some fond memories, Edwin and Kathy Chevalier, nephew and niece to founder Joe Chevalier, brought along photos of the store’s origins to share.
“I always wanted to work at the bookstore but was too young,” Kathy Chevalier told the Larchmont Buzz at the bookstore. “But it just so happened that on my 16th birthday my uncle desperately needed someone to work the store and he called me in! I was thrilled. I don’t think he really even knew it was my birthday, but it was certainly a big day for me.” Kathy and her brother Edwin grew up on Arden Boulevard.
According to the Chevalier siblings, the store began as a lending library in 1939 and became a bookstore in 1940, when it also began to sell greeting cards and many knickknacks. It moved through a few locations on the boulevard. Edwin thinks the first location may have been on Beverly where the current Larchmont Deli stands, and moved to one other Larchmont location before settling into 126 N. Larchmont in a former bank building, as noted by the large steel bank vault door still present in the back room.
Joseph Chevalier soon became a leader in the bookselling industry and through his work with the Southern California Booksellers Association, met celebrities and promoted bookselling throughout the region.
In 1986, Joseph Chevalier was awarded a certificate by the Los Angeles City Council that recognized Chevalier’s 45 years of business in Los Angeles that gives us other tidbits of information about Chevalier, including the celebrities who frequented the store, and the tough times an independent bookstore faced during the 1980’s rush of large chain stores:
~Whereas the noted fixture in the community had its beginnings as a rental library in 1939 when Joe Chevalier and his wife moved into the building and renamed the existing rental store; and
~Whereas Joe came into business in 1945 and it began to grow steadily expanding to include books for sale, stationery and greeting cards and an art gallery featuring one-man shows; and
~Whereas Joe Chevalier truly has the interest of the community at heart as a native of Los Angeles born just two miles from Larchmont, graduated from Loyola High School and Los Angeles City College; and
~Whereas the neighborhood bookstore has felt the impact of the discount booksellers, Chevalier’s offers something special – personalized service and a willingness to spend time tracking down hard-to-find books; and;
~Whereas over the years, many famous customers have frequented Chevalier’s including Howard Hughes, author Aldous Huxley, Dame Edith Sitwell, Nelson Eddy and Nat King Cole;
~ Whereas Joe Chevalier has offered service to his community as a Director of the Larchmont Boulevard Association and writing a book review column for the Larchmont Chronicle for ten years;
~Now, therefore, be it resolved the Los Angeles City Council by adoption of this resolution, congratulates Joe Chevalier for 45 years of operating an outstanding community bookstore, we are grateful for the service he so faithfully extends.
Learn about the revived Chevalier’s Books and its new owners:
Larchmont Buzz: Chevalier’s Opens Anew