The original library building, erected in 1950, was the chapel for the Villa Cabrini Academy, a school for girls founded by Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini. Mother Cabrini was the first American canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church. She lived and performed some of her work in the Verdugo Mountains above Burbank at a "preventorium" she started for poor girls. She died in 1917, was beatified in 1938, and in 1946 was canonized as the Patron Saint of Immigrants.
In 1906 Mother Cabrini bought 120 acres of Burbank land dotted with olive trees and grape vines. Over the years, structures have come and gone according to the needs of the various entities occupying the property, such as the Villa Cabrini Academy, The Lutheran High School Association of Southern California, Chiropractic Associated Practices Educational Foundation, and California Institute of the Arts.
Woodbury University purchased 22 acres of the property in 1986, and renovated the former chapel to house the library. The dark wood ceiling was sandblasted and stained white to lighten the room. As you enter the library from the circulation area, the closets to the left and right were originally confessionals. The rooms on either side of the chapel housed the ranks of pipes for the organ. These rooms are now used to store microfilm and archive materials. The upstairs loft area of the library, now used as a study area, was the choir area. Left in place during the renovation were the original Italian chandeliers which were refinished to their original brass and steel, the terrazzo tile flooring and the upper level stained glass windows.
The annex, formerly used as a dormitory for elder nuns and candidates entering the convent, was converted into offices and stacks to house the library collection. Alumni Carlos and Darryl de Falla of de Falla and Dawson Design Group donated their time to design the new interior, including the glass enclosed corridor connecting the chapel and the annex.
Donations made available through the Library Associates (friends of the library) group have helped fund the remodeling of the front entrance lobby, provided new carpet, and the remodel of the annex building which included the creation of the electronic classroom/study hall.