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Updated Aug. 30, 2010
By Tom Evelyn
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Hundreds of students, faculty, staff and members of the local community turned out this past weekend for a ribbon-cutting ceremony, festive street fair and children's activities to mark the grand opening of the Barnes & Noble at Bucknell University bookstore in downtown Lewisburg. || Photo gallery, renderings
During the ribbon-cutting on Friday, speakers representing Bucknell, the Borough of Lewisburg, the Commonwealth and Barnes & Noble thanked all those involved and talked about the strong partnership between the University and Lewisburg and how this collaboration resulted in a bookstore that will serve as an anchor to support a vibrant downtown community.
"I've been in many incarnations of this building. This is the best. It's an amazing place to be," said Lewisburg Mayor Judy Wagner, who proclaimed Friday, Aug. 27, "Barnes & Noble at Bucknell University Bookstore Day."
"The restoration of this historic building is a stunning example of how the past may guide the future," Wagner said, citing the proclamation. "It has given Market Street a renewed vitality for which we are really grateful."
Bucknell President John Bravman thanked Gov. Ed Rendell for his support of the bookstore and joined others in thanking past Bucknell President Brian Mitchell for his leadership in pursuing and guiding the project from an idea to reality.
President Bravman also recognized Barnes & Noble and others involved in the project for appreciating that the "people at Bucknell, Lewisburg, Union County, the Central Susquehanna Valley and other places actually still love books."
"People who know me, know I'm a total gear-head techno geek," Bravman said. "But the people who know me also know that I love books. I'm here to tell you that print media, the world of ideas as expressed in books, is not dead. In fact, it's not going away at all." || || Bravman audio clip
Austin Burke, the Pennsylvania secretary of Community and Economic Development, congratulated the mayor and borough council for their work in promoting and protecting the vitality of downtown Lewisburg, calling the bookstore a "crowning glory" in this effort.
Burke cited a Brookings Institution study that pointed to the partnerships of "anchor" institutions like Bucknell and the borough as the driving force behind successful, thriving small town communities. "You as a community, together, are carrying out the game plan that they recommended in the study, and that is to get the investments pulled together so that you can optimize the economic impacts of both institutions."
Bucknell Student Government President Charlie Kreitler thanked all of those involved on behalf of the student body and said the bookstore served as a great connection between the students and the borough.
"The downtown Bucknell bookstore could not have been the tremendous success we see here today had it not been for the collaborative effort of Bucknellians and the people of Lewisburg," Kreitler said. "From the preservation of the building's historical background, sprinkled throughout each level, to the Bucknell blue walls and rich orange finish in the floors, together, the spirit of Lewisburg and the spirit of Bucknell University have been combined like never before."
Street fair, movie, more
Later Friday, a street fair, featuring free food and entertainment, including musicians, jugglers, a caricature artist and more, was held on North Fourth Street next to the bookstore. Hundreds packed the block as others visited the bookstore and nearby businesses.
The weekend-long celebration continued Saturday with a series of children's events that included appearances by Dr. Seuss characters at the Campus Theatre and a free showing of the film, "Horton Hears a Who!" That was followed by reading of children's books at the bookstore.
Bookstore employees also handed out coupons and selected 30 gift card winners throughout the weekend.
Lewisburg resident Bucky Buxton, who was shopping Friday during the grand opening ceremony, called the bookstore "absolutely awesome" and said it is a great addition to downtown.
"It's wonderful having a bookstore in Lewisburg," he said. "It's much more convenient. It is more spread out than the old bookstore, and I love the skylight. I also love how they kept the old building that was here."
Abby Flackman, a Bucknell junior neuroscience major, has been to the bookstore five times since she returned to campus. "I think it's really nice," she said. "I love it. It is really organized and beautiful inside. I have been here every day so far. I think this will be a great way for students to come downtown and have more community involvement."
Toby Davis, a junior economics major, was at the bookstore for the second time Friday. "I think it's great. It's huge and has many more books and apparel and all the things you need, much more than when it was in the (Elaine Langone Center). It's marvelous."
Barnes & Noble at Bucknell University
The Barnes & Noble at Bucknell University bookstore opened this past summer following a yearlong restoration of its historic building, parts of which date to circa-1900. The bookstore features 29,500 square feet of assorted books and merchandise displayed among artifacts from the building's past and photographs showcasing the history of Bucknell and Lewisburg.
Occupying the former C. Dreisbach's Sons Hardware Store, the bookstore has a Starbucks café and a separate space for small gatherings, including literary and artistic performances as well as community meetings.
The bookstore 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, which has been re-imagined as a children's reading area on the bottom floor.
In addition to inside the café, the bookstore has seating on all floors where students and other customers may study or read. Wi-Fi access is available throughout.
The store's regular hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Many of the bookstore's architectural elements were carefully restored by hand, including much of the original 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.
New shuttle service, 'hearth space'
A free shuttle service for students loops campus, the downtown bookstore and other locations. It runs from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Students also have the option to order textbooks online and have them delivered to the Bucknell post office for pickup on campus.
The new bookstore replaces the campus bookstore that had been located in the Elaine Langone Center. The move frees up more than 12,500 square feet, which will be renovated to create a large gathering and "hearth space" for students. The space also will house various student leadership and activities offices when the renovations are completed.
Contact: Division of Communications