June 28, 2010

Plans are under way for a grand opening during the weekend of Aug. 27.

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By Tom Evelyn

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Following a yearlong 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 — opened this past weekend. || Photo gallery, renderings

The bookstore, which occupies the former C. Dreisbach's Sons Hardware Store on the northwest corner of Fourth and Market streets, includes a large inventory of books, magazines and sportswear, as well as a Starbucks café. Its regular hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

Plans are under way for a grand opening to celebrate the bookstore and its downtown partnership during the weekend of Aug. 27, following the beginning of the fall semester. Details, including information on specials and entertainment, will be posted here and in the store closer to the event.

Modern history
The design of the new bookstore includes a mix of the old and the new. 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.

To preserve its historical value and significance to the downtown streetscape, the building, parts of which date to circa-1900, was rehabilitated in accordance with the provisions of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and federal standards.

"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 led the effort to connect the campus and community through a series of economic development projects, including the bookstore.

Wi-Fi access
In addition to the café, the bookstore, which has Wi-Fi access throughout, includes seating on all floors where students and other customers may study or read.

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.

Restored by hand
Many of the building's architectural elements were 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 were 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 hangs outside the building. After Dreisbach's closed in 1965, the building housed various businesses and offices through 2008.

Shuttle, textbooks
The new bookstore replaces a campus bookstore that had been located in the Elaine Langone Center, freeing 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. Details of the schedule and route 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.

Campus Theatre
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; and renovation of the federal post office building at Market and Third streets to accommodate offices for Bucknell employees.

Bucknell partnered 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.

Contact: Division of Communications