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By Tom Evelyn
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Following a careful restoration of its historic building, the Barnes & Noble at Bucknell University bookstore — featuring 29,500 square feet of assorted books and other merchandise displayed among artifacts from the building's past — will open on Saturday, June 26, at 2 p.m., after the Fourth of July Parade in downtown Lewisburg.
The new bookstore, which occupies the former C. Dreisbach's Sons Hardware Store on the northwest corner of Fourth and Market streets, will include a large inventory of books, magazines and sportswear, as well as a Starbucks café. Following its "soft" opening, the store regularly will be open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
A grand opening, including special events to celebrate the bookstore and its downtown partnership, is scheduled for Aug. 27, during the first week of fall classes.
"The adaptive reuse of this historic building grew from the close relationship between Bucknell and downtown Lewisburg, which have evolved together since the University's founding," said Bucknell President Brian C. Mitchell, who has led the effort to connect the campus and community through a series of economic development projects, including the bookstore. "As a result of a great collaborative effort, the bookstore is beautiful, and we look forward to its opening so that students and the campus and regional communities can enjoy it."
Parts of the bookstore building date to circa-1900. To preserve its historical value and significance to the downtown streetscape, the building was rehabilitated during construction of the bookstore in accordance with the provisions of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and federal standards.
It features a 68-foot-long skylight over a three-story atrium, the first escalators ever installed in Union County, and the building's original Otis freight elevator, the footprint of which has been re-imagined as a children's reading area.
In addition to the café, the store will include seating on all floors where students and other customers may study or read. The store will have Wi-Fi access throughout.
The back of the store, above where horse-drawn carriages once made deliveries, includes space for small gatherings, including literary and artistic performances as well as community meetings.
Throughout the store, stylized photographs feature the history of Bucknell and Lewisburg.
"Great care has been taken to ensure the atmosphere reflects pride in Bucknell, Lewisburg and the Central Susquehanna Valley, and to create the warm ambience and relaxing environment that have made Barnes & Noble stores successful across the country," bookstore Director Vicki Benion said.
Many of the building's architectural elements have been carefully restored by hand, including much of the brickwork, woodwork, and steel casement and wood double-hung windows.
Several other features of the original Dreisbach's building have been preserved and are on display, including an ornate black steel safe, which workers discovered inside an interior wall. The safe contained bank records and the building's architectural blueprints.
Much of the original building was rebuilt after a fire in 1941, during which two firefighters lost their lives. A commemorative plaque honoring the firefighters from the William Cameron Engine Company of Lewisburg will hang outside the building. After Dreisbach's closed in 1965, the building housed various businesses and offices through 2008, when work on the bookstore began.
Shuttle, text books
The new bookstore replaces a campus bookstore that had been located in the Elaine Langone Center. The move will free up more than 12,500 square feet in that building for other University uses.
A shuttle service for students looping campus and the downtown bookstore is scheduled to begin in mid-August. The schedule and route details will be announced soon. Students also will have the option to order textbooks online and have them delivered to the Bucknell post office for pickup on campus.
The majority of the funding for the $10 million bookstore project came from state and federal grants and incentives for small-town economic development projects.
Other projects being pursued with the support of the commonwealth include the renovation of the historic Campus Theatre; conversion of the historic Dewitt Building to include retail space and the new Bucknell University Innovation Center; renovation of the federal post office building at Market and Third streets to accommodate offices for Bucknell employees; and a 10-mile rails-to-trails project that will connect Lewisburg and Mifflinburg with a bike and walking path.
Bucknell is partnering with Barnes & Noble College Booksellers and the developer, Radnor Property Group of Wayne, Pa., to design, construct and manage the bookstore. Bucknell will retain control and ownership of the property, which will pay municipal and county taxes.
About Barnes & Noble College Booksellers: Based out of Basking Ridge, N.J., Barnes & Noble College Booksellers is a privately-held sister company to Barnes & Noble Inc., the nation's largest bookseller. Currently, they operate nearly 700 college bookstores across America with more than 30 in Pennsylvania, including at the University of Pennsylvania, Penn State, Franklin and Marshall, Lehigh, Wilkes University and King's College.
Contact: Division of Communications